Author: Miyazaki A2 PM
Sakura and Lee go on a non-date and she discovers exactly what he means to her. Set during the time-skip. First person, present-tense. Inhale. Exhale. LeeSaku SakuLeeRated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Friendship - Sakura H. & Lee R. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,727 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 2 - Published: 05-29-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4287745
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The words burn in my ears for the length of two entire heartbeats before I feel a sharp jab in my spine, and blackness consumes me as my heart breaks.
I open my eyes slowly, calmly. This dream no longer makes me scream and/or cry. I just breathe. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Focus on nothing but pulling the oxygen into my lungs and pushing the carbon dioxide out. Do not think of that night; do not think of your loss. Just breathe.
The dream used to knock the wind out of me, leaving me breathless from the pain of my loss, the effort I would exert trying to hold on to false hope and denial. But no longer. After all, it's been two years. Life goes on. I keep breathing.
I roll out of bed and walk sullenly to my bathroom. As I let the hot water storm like a waterfall onto my freezing body, my mind drifts. My body goes mechanically goes through my everyday functions while my mind is miles away, asking pointless—but just as everyday—questions.
What day is it?
Well then, what day was it yesterday?
Why don't you pay attention to the date?
Why should I?
Answer the question.
Why don't you pay attention to the date?
Why do you want me to?!
Don't shout at me!
Leave me alone!
…Okay, I will…
I brush my pink hair—natural, if you must know—and stare at the pale face in the mirror, the lifeless green eyes.
What day isit?
I tie on my headband—just because my hair is already done—and walk back to my bedroom to find some clothes. As I walk, I look at my calendar, just because that internal argument is eating at me.
I am suddenly eager, excited even. Impatient, I grab the first outfit I can get my hands on and dress in a hurry. I throw an automatic glance at my clock, and then freeze.
Why the hell am I hurrying? I have two hours.
I hate to have to wait.
Angry and frustrated, I sit on my bed and try not to glance at the Squad Seven photo on my bedside table. The photo I can't get rid of. The photo I can't turn facedown. The photo I can't avoid.
Inhale-inhale-inhale. Try to exhale and fail. Inhale again. Fight the memories. Do not think of his name. Do not think of him!
The feelings I get when I think of him vary. Sometimes anger, sometimes grief. Sometimes confusion, sometimes guilt. Today it's relief. I haven't thought of him in weeks, save for the reoccurring nightmare, and obviously my heart didn't appreciate the withholding of his memory.
Relief? Okay. Fine. But just because I'm relieved today, don't think that I'll slip up again for a while. There's no reason I or my heart should feel relieved. He left. He left. I begged him not to leave me, and he walked away from Konoha and me anyway. I accepted this knowledge a long time ago, but that fact cannot stop the wetness in my eyes from brimming over and falling down my face, down to my lap. Ashamed of letting myself cry over the traitor, I wipe my eyes, turning the tears to icicles.
Inhaaaaale. Exxxhaaaaaale. Iiiiiiinhaaaaaale. Eeeexxxhaaaaaale.
Please. Just. Breathe.
What time is it?
Damn. An hour and fifty-six minutes of hell to go.
I need to distract myself. But I can't leave the house or I might be late on returning and miss him. That would be unbearable.
So I guess I'll stick around.
Sigh. Yawn. Sigh again because I yawned. Look out the window. Still dark.
I wonder if he's still asleep, or if he's waiting just as impatiently as I am.
And then I wonder what Sasuke-kun is doing right now.
Damn! I broke my promise already. I thought of him. Twice in one day. I've got to stop doing that.
Breathe deeply. Sigh loudly.
Keep breathing or perish—basic law of life.
It shouldn't be so difficult to live without him. I shouldn't have to remind myself to keep breathing.
But it is. And I do. The ice tears threaten to fall again. I dig the heels of my hands into my eyes, as if I have the power to eradicate the emotion they symbolize by sheer force of will.
I gasp from the sudden pain in my chest.
Wait for relief. 6:06 A.M. An hour and fifty-four minutes to go. Count backwards in your head. Be patient. He's always right on time. Don't worry. Breathe. Wait.
I do as I say. I always do as I say. I've become strangely obedient in my days alone.
Alone. The word burns in my subconscious. Glance at the clock. Only thirty seconds have passed since I last looked at it. Why doesn't time ever speed up when I want it to?
God, I hate mornings.
Due to my hour and fifty-three minute service in hell, I might as well make it worth it. I think the most painful things possible. Questions.
Was there anything I could have done differently? Would it have changed anything? Was there any part of him that didn't want to go? When I begged him to stay, was there any part of him that wanted to honor that request? Was that part because of me? Did he care about me at all? If he had stayed, would we have been together by now? Do I still want that?
And what the hell does thank you mean?
Do I care anymore?
If I don't, why does it hurt so badly?
Did he know it would hurt so badly?
…Did he care…?
The hardest question is whether or not I care anymore. Sure, my body is just so used to the pain that I feel it whenever I think of him, but what about my heart? Does my heart care that he's gone anymore? I'm not sure. I guess I would have to see him again to know for sure, but that's never going to happen. He left. He's gone.
6:10 A.M. An hour and fifty minutes.
Inhale. Exhale. Eyes close. Breathing slows. Inhale…exhale. I sleep.
Eyes open. Breathing speeds up. I am awake. How long was I asleep? I look to the clock. 7:38 A.M. An hour and twenty-eight minutes. How much longer now? Twenty-two minutes.
I skip down my stairs to the front room, where my mother reads a book. Breakfast must be over already. She never rests until after breakfast.
She looks up at me and smiles. "Look who's so eager," she says, just like every Saturday morning.
"Eager? Who's eager?" I reply, just like every Saturday morning.
She looks at the clock as I sit beside her. "Twenty minutes," she says for my benefit.
"Thanks," I say, looking at the clock just for reassurance. Kaa-san's right.
"You look upset," she says hesitantly. She doesn't want me crying.
"I had the bad dream," I whisper.
"Ah," she says quietly, letting the subject drop. The first time I had that dream, I couldn't come out of my room for a few days. She doesn't want to have to see me like that again. That's why I hide in my room so much. I don't want her to see me.
How can I distract myself now? If I think too much about Sasuke-kun—flinch—there's no way I'll be in any shape for visitors. Unacceptable.
I decide to read over my mother's shoulder. She doesn't mind—she thinks I don't have enough literature in my life.
This might have been a mistake. Whatever she was reading was a romance, and the characters were just now declaring their mutual love for the other.
"But don't you understand," the woman said to the man, "how in love with you I am?"
"You're in love with me?" asked the man.
"Of course I am!" replied the female lead.
"Why didn't you say anything earlier?"
"Why would I?"
"Because it would've saved us both so much trouble!"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that I'm in love with you, too!"
And then he grabbed her and they kissed and I'm so sick of my mother's romance novels. I scowl at my mother's book and cross my arms over my chest, looking away before the couple could start talking again.
"You don't have to look so disgusted," Kaa-san says quietly. God, how does she know everything?
"Who's disgusted?" I say mechanically, indifferently.
"Fifteen minutes," she says, playing the peacemaker.
"Yeppers," I say in a monotone, again looking at the clock.
"It really is a good story. You'd like it."
"I already know what happens," I protest.
"I'm only in the middle—I don't even know what happens!"
"They fall in love," I say slowly.
"That's just part of the story," she objects.
"What if one of them dies? Or if one of them leaves the other?"
She frowns. "That'd be part of the story, too, Sakura-chan."
I cock my head to the side, and do not reply. How many times have we had this discussion about how many books? I've lost count. But my mother has a kind of bad luck picking books, so I refuse to risk it. Someone always dies or leaves. I don't think I can take that.
Twelve minutes. Hurry.
Inhale deeply. Exhale loudly. Not a sigh, just a burst of useless air from my lungs. Inhale. Exhale.
She looks at me until I look back, and then she turns away quickly, pretending she hadn't been staring.
I wonder if he's left his house yet, or if he plans to run over at the last second. I don't know how he does it. Maybe I'll ask.
Ten minutes. Time ticks away more slowly than ever. Time flies when you're having fun, and time stands still in anticipation. Time sure does have a hell of a sense of humor.
Pain creeps into my mind. Undeniable, inescapable. I can only wait for relief. Wait. Be patient. Breathe!
Don't be so bossy. Inhale. Exhale. Happy?
Not really. Not yet.
Why do I talk to myself?
Because no one else will. Duh. Why else?
I really have to get out more often.
He won't be late, but he won't be early. He doesn't want to catch me at a bad moment.
Inhale-inhale-inhale. Don't panic. Seven minutes isn't so long. You can survive seven minutes, can't you, you little wimp? It's not that hard. Distract yourself. Inhale-inhale-inhale. Pace if you have to.
I stand. Exhale.
"Where are you going?" Kaa-san asks as I jog into the kitchen.
"Nowhere," I shout behind me.
Where she can't see, I walk across the kitchen over and over again, letting my secret OCD get the best of me.
Step, step, step, step, step. About-face.
"Five minutes," Kaa-san calls, bless her.
Keep pacing. Keep breathing. Focus on nothing but each foot in front of the other, turning around without tripping, picking your foot up as soon as the other hits the floor. Allow nothing else enter your mind until—
"Oh my, I wonder who that could be," Kaa-san says dryly as I run to the door.
I wrench it open, impatient as ever.
The first think I see is green. Lots of green. Then a huge grin. And finally the big round eyes I've been waiting for all morning.
"Lee-kun," I breathe.
His grin gets wider at the sound on his name on my lips, especially with the newly adopted, adored suffix.
"Sakura-san! Ohayo," he says, as joyful as every Saturday morning.
I can't help but grin, too.
Where did the pain go? The agony of my loss?
What loss? All I see is Lee-kun. I haven't lost him.
I meant Sasuke-kun.
Oh, him? Right. About that…
How could there be any pain when anyone like Lee-kun could be so happy to see someone like me, Sakura, the broken one?
He stands with one hand behind his back, grinning as always. Just as I open my mouth to let him in, he pulls a bunch of flowers out from behind his back. He gives me a flower every Saturday, so I am not surprised at first. But the surprise comes when I realize how small and delicate the bell-shaped white flowers in his hands are. Usually Lee-kun just gives me daisies.
"Oh, Lee-kun! They're so beautiful!"
He blushes and hands them to me. "They're white heathers," he says as I press the delicate petals to my nostrils. A sweet, almost lilac-like scent fills my head, and I sigh. "It's the flower of protection…and wishes."
My face gets hot, and I'm sure I'm blushing, too. "Wishes?"
His face is as red as a tomato. "It's a good luck symbol that means wishes do come true."
I know Lee-kun's wish. What is mine? By the sense of rightness and completeness I feel with him on my doorstep, perhaps the gap between the two is not so large.
"Arigato, Lee-kun. They're lovely. Come inside so I can put them in a vase."
He grins at the invitation and quickly steps inside. Now that he is so near, I do not panic as I go back up to my room and nestle the white heathers in with the daisies. Ah, Lee-kun. Lee-kun and I have spent the day together nearly every Saturday since Naruto-kun left with Jiraiya-sama to train. At first, I would see no one, and no one bothered to try and see me. But after a month of solitude, Lee-kun came to see me. To see how I was coping. I didn't want to see him—anyone—at first, so I ignored him. But he kept coming back, every single Saturday, never letting my rejections faze him. He knew I was in pain, so he just waited. Finally, his patience paid off and I agreed to go with him. He kept it simple—not a date, just a walk-and-talk between friends. He kept coming, and I kept going with him, due to the sense of wholeness I felt in his presence.
At first, he came to comfort me in my loneliness, but it wasn't long before I started to look forward to Saturdays more than ever. For company, I assumed. All I wanted was company. But over time, it's become more about Lee-kun than anything else. I no longer seek anyone's company—I require Lee-kun's company. I can't live without our Saturdays. Maybe someday, it won't just be Saturdays. I know Lee-kun's wish. What's mine?
Maybe they're the same.
Lee-kun is more than just a friend. That much is apparent. I need him now.
I half-run down the stairs to see Lee-kun waiting impatiently near the front door. No, not impatient. Anxious. Eager. Just like every Saturday morning.
Now I race to his side, yank open the door, yell a quick ja to my mother, and hop onto the porch. Lee-kun, just as enthusiastic, if not more, takes a flying leap and lands by the road. I run to catch up with him, and then we laugh at each other's impatience.
"How was your week, Sakura-san?" he asks, starting to walk.
"Alright, I guess. I put a dog's broken leg back together in five seconds flat. That got me points with Tsunade-sama. I hope she might lay off soon—she works me like a pack mule."
"She wants you to be great," he says, and I guess his thoughts have drifted to his father-figure, Gai-sensei.
"How about you? How was your week?"
He blushes. "It was a little long. I thought today would never get here."
"I know what you mean," I say, smiling broadly. Where is the pain I wonder again. I can hardly remember what it felt like to be without him.
I walk so close to him that our arms nearly touch. If I would only flick my wrist, we could hold hands. That would make Lee-kun so happy. I want terribly to make him happy. Lately, my entire life seems to be about that smile on his face. After all, where would I be without him?
Huddled in your room with that damn picture of Sasuke-kun staring at you, pounding you with memories of your lost love. That's where you'd be, baka.
Ah, right. I should've known. Arigato.
Suddenly, a thought hits me.
My lost love.
Is it possible…could I have…maybe…gained a love because of my lost love?
I look at Lee-kun, his bright grin, his reassuring eyes. There is nothing about him I would change. There is not a single aspect of him that I can live without.
Is that love?
What was my love for Sasuke-kun based on, anyway? His look, his attitude, his cool demeanor. His strength.
But what about Lee-kun? He's taken care of me. He's protected me physically, mentally, and emotionally. He's been my friend, my very best friend, the one person I can always count on. He's strong, but in a way more than just physically. He can survive anything, and he never, evergives up. He wants strength, not for the sake of having strength, but for the sake of making the world a better place with that strength.
Sasuke-kun wanted strength to kill his brother. An avenger, that's what he always called himself. Nothing crossed his mind but revenge. Nothing.
Lee-kun would never consider revenge. Not like that. Not like Sasuke-kun. Rematches, sure, but he would never dedicate his life to ending someone else's. He's too good.
Perhaps the biggest—and potentially most important—difference between the two men is that Lee-kun actually loves me. He always has. He loves two people more than the rest of the world combined: Gai-sensei and me. From the first moment he met me, he promised to protect me until the day he died, and he's upheld that promise so far.
I hope Lee-kun is far away the next time someone is about to kill me—I couldn't bear to have him die for his love for me. If anything, I would rather throw myself in front of the fatal blow of hisattacker.
That's love, isn't it? Wanting someone's life to continue even if it means ending your own? Isn't it?
Maybe. Let's go through the tallies.
Do I love Sasuke-kun?
I'll always love Sasuke-kun. An automatic response.
But am I in love with Sasuke-kun?
I…I don't think so.
Alright, then, do I love Lee-kun?
Most definitely. Just as automatic.
But am I inlove with Lee-kun?
…Yes. I think I am…
A2 here. This is the first chapter of my first fic. I don't really know what to say about it, though. I like it, just because it's mine, but I'm not sure what other people would think of it. Sigh. Anyways, I'd love to hear what people think. It shouldn't take me long to update this fic, since most of it is already written.