Author: refracted PM
He pulled the trigger of the gun. The gun that he swore he would never use. She could feel the sorrow swallowing her whole when he leaned forward, his face splattered with blood from the impact. "I promised that I would always protect you, Sakura."Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Crime - Sakura H. & Sasuke U. - Words: 10,044 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 58 - Follows: 6 - Published: 11-21-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7569220
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
And I could tell it was over
From the curtains that hung from your neck...
I realised that then you were perfect.
From the first second of landing onto American soil from Japan, the difference was felt.
I had first seen America as a country with so much opportunities. The country was the king of globalisation and everywhere I went, there were so much integration of products from all around the world. You could literally walk from China into Greece when it came to America. I knew my first impression was always going to be good anyway—after watching all of those Hollywood movies that entailed America as the place to be, what doubt could I have?
The year was 2000. The era was a new, fresh time for revolution. Technology was up on an exponential rise, the economy was blooming and everything seemed so fantastic.
What I didn't know was that America had changed very little with the turn of the century.
Being a talented student, I was enrolled for my first year into Harvard university.
I had also been accepted into Yale University, but Harvard University from first look always seemed home to me, and I thought it to be more beneficial for my medical career, anyway. My goal was to become a highly respected doctor who would save the lives of many. You can tell I was idealistic for most of my years because it was a hard job studying through all of the years to even become a doctor, and then to become highly respected? You could say that it was more of a dream than a goal, especially given the fact I had been lucky enough to experience death.
I was quick to make friends in the university, namely with two obnoxious and loud blondes that I had utterly no idea how they got into Harvard, and a brother and sister who both had unusual blue-lavender hair and white eyes. Then again, who was I to call that strange? I was the one with the peculiar pink hair. Nonetheless, I respected the two siblings from day one as they were exceedingly intelligent and it seemed they had a high status in not only the society of Harvard, but also in Cambridge.
However, despite the frequent entertainment that my friends provided me with their diverse personalities, there was one certain person who caught my eye. First, he was always by himself, secluded, and this was easy to point out with most of the students in Harvard either being in large groups or pairs (that was usually the young couples.) And I meant that. Everywhere that I saw him, he was alone. In the cafeteria he kept to himself, eating on a table, him being the only one sitting in it. Sometimes I would pass him in empty lecture rooms after the classes had long finished. Other times he would be in the Harvard Yard, no matter the weather.
I couldn't see why he wasn't... popular. I know that sounded shallow, but he was absolutely striking. I had seen other people gawking at him or plain ogling him, so I knew I wouldn't be that far off with my opinion. He had the oddest midnight hair, one that comprised of smooth bangs that lingered in front of his face and stuck up like spikes in the back – but it was unique in a good, artistic way. I had hardly caught his eyes, however when I did, he had the most piercing onyx eyes that I had ever encountered. They seemed so bottomless and dark compared to my open emerald eyes. His pale skin that was akin to the snow of the winters and strong facial bone structure only made him appear more hidden. And as if that wasn't enough – he also had a towering figure, firm physique and perfect leanness.
I decided that my best guess was to ask one of the obnoxious blondes I was talking about, being Yamanaka Ino. She always had a big mouth and a handful of gossip to add to the conversation during breaks, so I supposed she would know a bit about this eccentric boy. I acted casual while asking her about it, even if on the inside I was aching to know the answers.
Her reaction was priceless, though. Her eyes were as wide as a full moon and her mouth stuck open for a minute, and I would've been fooled that she looked like a fish with that expression. Then she closed her lips, opened them slowly, and closed them again. She seemed to be struggling with how to answer the question of who he was.
"That's Uchiha Sasuke," she muttered, sticking her fork stubbornly into her food, as if grimacing to the mention. "He's trouble. Don't get involved." Well, she was rather dismissive.
Nonetheless, I was always the persistent kind. "What happened to him? I mean, he seems to be alone all the time."
She twirled the spaghetti thoughtfully, leaning her head onto her hand. "I don't know. The Uchiha's always been gorgeous, and I think he knows that with how all the girls look at him," she rolled her eyes, pointing towards an example of her point. I followed her figure and saw a group of... provocatively dressed girls grouping around him. Sasuke didn't look like he even noticed them. After a few seconds, he turned to them with one of the deadliest looks in his eyes that I had ever seen in anyone. Immediately, the girls shuffled in apology and quickly hurried away. Ino chortled, but continued, leaning into my ear as if she was afraid of Sasuke hearing, "the word is that his brother was murdered in the Columbine High School massacre. He wasn't even a student there. That must've been rough."
The news sounded like something bad, but I had no idea what that massacre was. "Columbine... High School...?"
Ino laughed loudly again, before shaking her head. "God forehead, I know you came from Japan like me, but you must have been living in a hole."
"Well...?" I hinted, not subtle at all.
Ino just patted me on my head and waved her hand, as if going away from the subject. "That doesn't matter what it is. It's better you don't know about it anyway. However, apparently his brother isn't the worst part about it. Sakura, my friend, Uchiha Sasuke was a survivor." The way she suggested it made the prospect of surviving the massacre sound like an absolute curse.
This time, I couldn't help to gape at Sasuke across the many cafeteria tables like countless others had done.
The thought of Uchiha Sasuke remained in my head for many days to come.
I had always been a helpless romantic and I honestly could never figure out whether or not I liked a boy, because I never before had to come to think of it. I found teenage relationships to be silly and useless as most of them didn't last, and I was the the person to be prude out of anyone. If I had a relationship, I wanted it to be long-term, and assured that it would stay that way.
All of those aspects were drawn from my mind when it came to Sasuke. All I could think of was learning more about him and helping him. He seemed like someone who just wanted a person who would understand. But what would I really know about him, after all? But it is said that though it's easier to get along with people who are similar to you, it's much more interesting with people who were different. And Sasuke was on the opposite spectrum from me.
I decided that when the right day came, I would talk to him. I didn't want to miss a chance of getting to know someone would could be potentially as brilliant that I assumed he was. It was a tad more brighter than the usual first impressions, but I normally wasn't wrong when it came to them. After all, after majoring medicine, I also had classes in psychology.
Such a day came when I was studying conditioning in psychology at the Harvard university library. I stayed there late after most of the students would have, but I was always interested when it came to psychology. I left the library at about five in the evening, walking out into the frosty and snow-coated Harvard Yard. Normally, not many students would have remained in the yard, and this was no different today. However, like any other cliché romance (as I dubbed), I found Sasuke leaning against a trunk of a tree, reading a book. He looked more content then I had seen him before.
The entire yard was empty and the only sound was the whistling of winter winds. I cautiously walked towards him, and he didn't notice my presence until I came right in front of him. I don't know what courage rippled inside of me, but however it came, the surge enabled me to stare at him right in the face. He looked up at me uninterestingly, scanning my appearance from head to toe. I immediately felt unconscious; straightening out my simple green T-shirt and hoping that my rosy hair wasn't completely unkept.
I felt like a giddy teenage girl in high school. I never felt like that.
He brought the book down from his eyes. "What do you want?" he drawled, his deep voice puncturing through the nervousness that I felt. I noticed that he always wore long-sleeved shirts – if not jackets – and a pair of withered jeans. It was appropriate today since it was of cold climate, but I had seen him wear the same attire for much warmer days. I took a long time to come up with an answer, mainly because his aura was so condescending and made everything you thought of saying sound stupid.
"I thought... that maybe you wanted to talk to someone?" Okay. That sounded stupid. I didn't even know this guy.
There was no amusement or enlightenment whatsoever in Sasuke's eyes. He almost seemed bitter. "What? Do you feel sorry for me or something?" His voice had transformed into something far more harsher. It held so much animosity. Like he knew I didn't understand him. Well, I didn't.
Nonetheless, I was offended by his change of tone. Sure, it may have been a huge chance that his brother was shot down in whatever massacre that was and he could've got injured too, but hey, I was just trying to talk to him. "I'm sorry?" I uttered, my own voice no longer bashful, but disdainful, "I don't even know you. What do I have to be sorry for? Humour me." Maybe that was a bit too much of an offload... anger management was something I needed for years. I had a short fuse; to put it simply.
However, despite the fact I believed I went too far down the track, a smirk broke onto his face. He put down his book, folding the page, and I saw that the book was One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey. I loved that book. It was completely and utterly twisted, but maybe me and Sasuke had a shared interest, after all. Sasuke folded his muscular arms in front of his chest, his eyes sparkling with a new light. I was taken back of how easily he had altered his expression, as if he was used to holding such a cold façade. As if that was really just a mask, ready to be pulled off if anyone had bothered to see behind it.
He suddenly didn't seem as icy as the weather around us anymore. The snow that pattered onto both of us like warm flakes and the wind was a fresh comfort. We stayed like that for quite a while, staring at each other, contemplating, wondering. I believe at that moment he saw something in me. I didn't know what he saw but something registered inside of him, and that something made him motion to the space next to him. I was too shocked to comprehend the action because this was Uchiha Sasuke and he was the asshole of the university and everyone knew him and I was being asked to sit next to him and—
Okay. Calm, Sakura. Deep breaths.
I smiled gently, taking my time to sit next to him. He shuffled across the trunk to give me some space to lean against it too, and I thought instantly that this boy wasn't as much trouble as people made him out to me. Nevertheless, I still felt obliged to show my gratitude. "Thank you," I murmured, my voice as soft as the falling of snowflakes. "For giving me a chance."
He raised his eyebrow, as if saying, I'm not that special. Maybe he wasn't, maybe he was, I honestly couldn't care at this moment. He just shook his head, like he was laughing at his own joke. He tilted his head to the side when he looked at me again. "You're annoying."
So, it may not have been a proclamation of love at first sight and it may have more been a jerk response, but I ended up beaming anyway.
The next few days, I spent my cafeteria breaks sitting with Sasuke on our lone table.
We often walked to the cafeteria together, and Sasuke had no problem ignoring all of the whispers and accusative stares, but I wasn't at all that used to it. I think Sasuke sensed my unease, because at times he would guide me through the university with his hand behind my back, somewhat pushing me forward through all the students—that even at twenty years or older and may I say at Harvard, were all fans of swallowing gossip.
Ino had too frequently commanded me to tell her what on Earth was going on, but I kept in secret. I didn't want anyone else interrupting in our business, and I knew Sasuke would respect that, being the type of person he was. Nonetheless, that didn't stop him in openly conversing with me on our said table in the cafeteria, even if it was just small talk. With every word we said, we were learning about each other. I had grown to find out that the only person who had gotten close to him was Uzumaki Naruto, the other blonde that I had mentioned, but that had happened before the Columbine tragedy. Then, Sasuke and Naruto had broke apart.
"What classes do you take?" Sasuke asked today, deciding on simpler topics.
I smiled sheepishly. "I major in medicine. Other than that, it's just literature, ancient history and psychology. You know, a little bit of a variety."
Sasuke seemed to consider what I had said rather thoroughly. "Medicine and psychology..." he murmured thoughtfully, looking down at his tomato soup, which was his favourite. He glanced up at me, curious, with a hint of a cynical smirk on his lips. "You like saving people?"
I shrugged. "I hope so." The reply was brushing off the question, but I guess I was embarrassed. I had never let anyone know how much it was a passion to know that I had saved somebody's life, even if I've never done it before.
Sasuke stared at me with intensity for a few seconds before resuming into reality. "I take psychology too, you know."
I piped up. "Really?" my voice was a pitch higher than what I had intended. I blushed quickly, hiding my face.
He chuckled, amused. "Yeah. What, you didn't notice?" I couldn't tell if he was teasing or not. There was a sense of expectancy in his tone.
I tapped my chin, thinking. "Should I have?" I was being honest, though. I didn't know if Sasuke wanted to be noticed or not. I believed that he didn't like being noticed at all, or socialising for that matter, which was why I was still surprised to be nearing as his friend.
Sasuke once again laughed to himself, like he had done previous days before. He had been performing this antic many times, hinting that he hid a lot of things from people, but perhaps that he was entertained by me more than I actually realised.
This time, when he gazed into my eyes, his own were far more serious, inferring meaning beyond the lines. "Suppose not."
Despite our time together, I hardly ever got close to unravelling personal information about him.
I respected his privacy, but at the same time, I wanted to know so much more about him, because I knew there was more than people had said about him. He appeared to be just a boy struck by tragedy, however with so much of how he hid himself and implied other messages within his words, I knew that he had created more for himself than just tragedy. He had learned from his experiences and developed his own unique personality, along with philosophies. I just didn't know how much to an extent this was.
In an effort to understand his character more, I researched about the Columbine High School massacre, which had only happened last year on the twentieth of April, 1999, which was ironically enough known to be Adolf Hitler's birthday. I was appalled by the perpetrators who were just young boys at the age of seventeen and eighteen, however I wouldn't dare find out what the motive was for their crimes. There were twelve deaths, one that included a teacher, and of course among that number would have been Sasuke's brother, whom I now knew to be Uchiha Itachi.
To most people, twelve deaths would've seen minimal, maybe just a statistic. But what made it more of a shock, I suppose, was the fact that two young boys committed this crime and got hold of the arms so easily. I didn't know much about America and its laws but I knew their constitution stated the right to bear arms, one of which I would never understand.
I do admit though, I found the massacre far more impacting to myself because Sasuke had been involved. I never acknowledged how much the incident may had affected Sasuke himself, though, until within a few weeks of knowing him. After another of our shared late nights, we decided we would venture out into Cambridge to find a convenience store to snack in. We would never have suspected that such an hour of early evening that another crime was going to occur.
Unaware, I sauntered through the chosen convenience store that only had me, Sasuke and the server in it. Sasuke seemed to be more on alert as he was quietly trailing behind me, keeping his eyes open to the environment. I would have thought him to be paranoid, but he was like this in a lot of outside places. I guessed it would have been because of the massacre, however I never questioned him about it. I was just reaching down to retrieve by collection of Cadbury chocolate bars before the shattering of glass interrupted the silent calm of the convenience store. Now that I look back of it, there was always an eeriness in the air.
Sasuke swerved immediately around to the front of the store to analyse the situation. The server had his arms up in the air and well... that wasn't a good sign. I began to panic with my usual self, but I didn't dare to move. I was frozen in my place, the confectionery in my hand now long forgotten. I gaped at the typically attired attacker, wearing a heavy wool jacket, tracksuit pants and a balaclava to top it off. The most intimidating feature of him wasn't the anonymity of the balaclava though. It was definitely the revolver in his hand.
I witnessed Sasuke's entire expression changing. He eyed the revolver like it was Satan itself. Okay, so I've never been a religious person, but I knew that for Christians that Satan was quite the adverse enemy—if not the greatest. Sasuke was looking at the revolver – not at all at the actual criminal – like victims of the Holocaust would've at pictures of Adolf Hitler. His jaw bone tightened and his eyes seemed to darken, as if he was arriving in a very different place in reality. His fists clenched and he shook with emerging fury. He stood backwards towards me, pushing out a hand, motioning for me to stay back. Slowly, but steadily enough, his stygian orbs trailed up to the criminal's face with unmissable wrath.
"Sasuke," I mumbled. I was more than scared. For him, or of him, I did not know. At the volume that my heart was thumping, I was assured that Sasuke would've been able to hear it, though.
He didn't turn my way. "Stay back," he hissed.
At this time, the criminal was taking the money out of the cashier, and the server had an expression of blood-curdling fear. Before I could stop him, Sasuke launched forward with incomparable speed, running towards the intruder like an arrow out of a bow.
Sasuke! I felt like screaming. The man has a damn gun, and you have nothing. But I couldn't get the words out of my mouth. I swallowed them back. I was too startled by the image of watching Sasuke surge forward with his own style of criminal genius, like he had done this a thousand times. Maybe he had. I still knew little about him. However, one thing I could conclude from this was that when Sasuke first saw the attacker, he was reminded of the two boys who committed the Columbine High School massacre. There was no doubt.
Unfortunately for the attacker, he had a slow response time, and only realised of Sasuke's movement when he came in a metre of him. As an instant response, he curled the revolver towards Sasuke, pulling the trigger. I couldn't help but to scream, but Sasuke had long evaded the bullet, as if expecting it all this time. The bullet swirled past his body and soared over my head, breaking into the glass cabinets and demolishing all of the drink bottles behind it. I watched the mixture of liquids splatter onto the ground, my expression aghast. I kept squatting and holding my hands to my head, as if trying to repel the event that was happening at this moment.
I turned back to Sasuke, who was preparing for the attacker to launch another bullet, but before he could, he grabbed his wrist, twisting it horribly. I shut my eyes as I heard the scream of the attacker, along with the sickening twist and crack of the bone. The server in the store had already called 911 and was watching the ordeal untangle, as shocked as I was.
The criminal fell onto the ground in agony, grasping his wrist and breathing heavily. The revolver had fell to the ground, the metal clunking against the smooth surface of the tile floor. Sasuke bent down to pick up the gun, observing it as if it was a dead animal. After that, he leant towards the attacker and pulled off his balaclava, revealing his unruffled hair, inflamed red cheeks and eyes cementing with fear.
Sasuke smirked, a different one that I had seen ever before. It was a fusion of rage and serenity. Huffing, he took a firm hold of the revolver and turned it onto the attacker, aiming at his head. If he pulled the trigger now, he would be dead. For security purposes, Sasuke stomped his foot onto the criminal's knee, making him grunt more in suffering. Sasuke's smirk crept further onto his lips, like a snake slithering through the grass to its prey. I gasped, and held my hand to my mouth, abruptly feeling nauseous.
Who was Sasuke?
He pursed his lips, staring down at the petrified man. "You know," Sasuke murmured, surprisingly calm for the situation, and he only laughed when he heard the sound of police alarms in the distance. He twirled the gun around easily in his hand, gazing at it with the same animosity as he had previously before bracing it again and leaning down on his own knee, putting it against the criminal's head.
My eyes further widened in fear, if that was even possible. Everything was silence. The police alarms seemed to drift into the distance even if in reality, they were becoming closer. I scattered into the broken glass, trying to get away as far as I could.
Sasuke got so close to the attacker that he was whispering into his ear. The phrase was barely heard, but momentous. "I hate guns."
Afterwards, the gun clattered again onto the ground, remaining there as Sasuke delivered a swift kick to the man's face, rendering him unconscious.
The next time I saw him was later in the night.
He was sitting on the shore of the Charles River, one that bordered Harvard University. As it was winter, the river was partially frozen, with portions of sleet hovering on the surface, acquainted by a slight mist. He was staring out to the river, and I thought that the state of the river mirrored the mood of Sasuke very well. I couldn't even begin to imagine, though, what he would be thinking. The police had let him off with no charges, but that was no relief. His response to someone with a gun just revealed to me how many horrors of his past that he hid from everyone.
I walked close enough to him to be heard, but far away enough to not be lashed at. "Sasuke," I whispered, unsure of how he would react, however really, at the moment I was unsure of everything.
He flinched visibly a the mention of his name. I sighed and threw away all of the fear, changing the decision to stay far away from him but instead be close to him. I sat next to him in the soft snow, and I don't know what propelled me to do it, but I wrapped my arms around him, leaning into his shoulder. Like a mantra, I repetitively told him that it was okay, though we both knew that it wasn't. After I few minutes, I let go to brush the locks of his hair from his eyes. His hair was icy from the snow, and despite this, it felt as light as a feather. He looked at me with unreadable eyes, and clenched and unclenched his teeth several times as a calming mechanism.
He chuckled throatily out of the blue, gazing to the river again. "You must think I'm a monster." There was a certain emptiness to his words.
I shook my head, even if he missed it. "What you did there was saving us, Sasuke." I admit that he may have done it brutally but he got it done, and I admired him doing it without having to pull a trigger.
He shrugged, as if it was nothing. "It's still not enough," he mutters.
I continued to be gentle with my words. "Why is it not enough?"
The new few minutes were spent in silence. I could tell that he was pondering with how to answer the question, unsure whether or not he should reply to me or not. I felt the anticipation that this was something deeply held inside of him, dug so far that nobody had ever found what it was. I was patient. I didn't want to push him because this was something he had to do at his own pace, and most importantly, for himself. It wouldn't even matter how much I wanted to gather information from the darkest crevices of his heart.
Slowly, he gripped the ends of his shirt, and with each passing second, more of his back was revealed. I was going to question what he was doing, but he looked at me knowingly. This was the answer. I soon saw how pale his skin really was, and how the pure white was blemished by the blue of the multiple bruises on his back. I traced the bruises with my fingers and dared not to ask how they came about. However, I knew how they did the second I stared closer to his back and saw the gun wounds that were indented into his skin. I pulled back immediately, appalled.
He flexed his back muscles and I saw how his bruises became more accentuated with the movement, but most of all, how the gun wounds were highlighted. They bulged out of his skin and the horror in my eyes accelerated. Noticing my expression, he smirked—with an edge of sadness this time.
"You were shot." I stated, even if there was so much to the phrase than that. You were shot in the Columbine High School massacre, and you were left to live with the scars.
His eyes dulled. "I was saved."
I didn't need to ask to know who, but I did anyway, just because of the shock of the situation. I couldn't stop the words from forming. "Your brother..." I trailed off. I didn't need to say anything more. He knew, more than anything.
I frowned, touching his shoulder and rubbing it in comfort. "Why was he there?" I asked quietly.
There was a flash of pain in his eyes, but he answered anyway. "He was here to pick me up at midday for a doctor's appointment... so he went into the school..." he mumbled, his fists clenching now, "...but I never made it. He never made it." I wasn't going to ask anything more because I could put the puzzle pieces together for myself now. Sasuke must have been shot multiple times earlier, and just with the knack of irony and timing, his brother would have came in—and saved him from dying.
"They killed him with a 12-gauge shotgun," he continued, as if remembering it like it was yesterday, "I never knew anything much about guns. But that day, I learnt a lot about them, especially shotguns. And the worst thing about shotguns was the damage it does at close, blank range... and how when they killed my brother with the ammunition, his blood splattered all around him... my sight was blinded by his blood."
He swallowed and his eyes were filled with so much regret, anguish and blame on himself. He closed his eyes before speaking again, and I knew that he was replaying the scene over and over again. "And now I realise," he murmured, his shoulders sagging, "no matter how many people I save, I can never bring my brother back again. I can never redeem myself enough." I can never redeem myself until I die saving someone else, just like he did for me.
I blinked away the tears, smiling amongst all of the revelations. I returned to hugging him closer to me. "Don't you see, though, Sasuke?" I whispered into his hair, and he shook his head. Usually, he would have pulled away from the physical contact, but I had to take into note that he was far too broken in this moment to even move. "What your brother did... was beautiful."
He turned to me with unlimited questions in his eyes, but I nodded, the tears toppling over onto my cheeks. "The people who killed him may have been horrible criminals, but that never could stain what your brother did. He saved you, because he loved you. This may be the best way anyone could ever die, and I know that you wish it never happened, however he wanted to do it for you."
I took another breath in. "And when someone does something for you on the own will, it is never your fault, Sasuke."
Another period of silence. Heavy breathing. Trembling bodies. Slowing heartbeats. Falling tears. Unsaid words.
Then a smirk appeared on his face like the day when I first talked to him. The smirk reminded me of rejuvenation, like how the snow around us provided the river which such new freshness, such new life. His smirk was acceptance, and gradually, he was forgiving himself.
His eyes relit with the warmth of a sunrise, but the tranquillity of a sunset. "I told you that you were annoying, Sakura."
After that night, I began to learn much more about Sasuke.
Despite the massacre, he was able to graduate from the same high school with flying colours, and he had no problem with enrolling into a university the year after, being this year. He was more than exceedingly gifted and intelligent; I could tell that he had a great intuitive grasp on everything, meaning that he would learn and adapt to things at a much faster pace than others. This would explain his talents, ranging from being multilingual from being able to fist-fight rather well, even for such a young age.
I knew that Sasuke's hand-to-hand combat was how he did fight with others when it came down to it, as was represented before. He told me that he would never want to use guns, but he did have a collection of them – because he states that to hate something, you have to know all about it first. I suppose it was plausible given that hatred was a loss of love, and in situations with people, you usually hated someone that you knew a lot about, otherwise it would simply just be prejudice.
I wondered if he was always suited to be this heroic persona. He chuckled when I asked him about that, and he just explained simply that it began after his parents' deaths at a young age, and he would have to know how to protect himself as his brother was the only person left in his life. Soon, Sasuke's self-defence had flourished into a sense of justice and protection of other people. My friendship with Sasuke was beginning to be much closer than it used to be, and no longer did I spend much time with the friends that I had first found.
Nonetheless, Sasuke and Naruto did somewhat get reacquainted after Naruto acknowledged that Sasuke was slowly making his way to change back to his usual self. Despite this, Naruto still kept his distance because he admitted that I had long taken his place now, and perhaps even obtained something more. Saying that confused me more than ever because I believed that Sasuke didn't feel for me romantically, though I began to very much so for him. He was the most unique person I had ever met. He was multifaceted with all the aspects of humanity, one that made him so real, so wonderful.
Sometimes I ask him about the massacre, such as whether or not he ever thinks about why the two boys committed it in the first place. When I did question him about this, he went into a trance of thought as he always did with these issues.
However, he came to quite a philosophical and reasoned answer. "It's really not for me say," he had replied, "but if I had to take a guess I wouldn't say that it was the reason everyone else seems to think it is—like violent movies, the graphic game Doom, bullying, psychopathic capabilities or even Marilyn Manson. I just believe simply that it's because they could. People don't realise when massacres happen in America how easy it is for anyone to get a hold of a gun and do it."
I thought that this was one of the wisest words he had ever said, and even being affected by the massacre, his answer had no bias. This was continued when I inquired whether or not he ever was angry at the thought of the two boys. He just shook his head and said what was done was done, as well as the fact that it wasn't the boys he hated, it was the guns. Without the guns, they wouldn't have killed the people they did, after all.
I knew just from these conversations that he was different. It was expected for people to be murderous of others that had hurt people close to them, but Sasuke managed to keep a calm matter about the matter. There only really was any trouble when it came to discussing guns, and it was a fair enough argument. Once again, I didn't know much about America, their justifications or regulations, but I believe as thoroughly as he did that gun laws should've been far more restricted.
I suppose that his choice of combating evil with solely physical strength was saying enough in itself.
The year 2001 arrived.
Despite Sasuke being more negative about the country than I was, I had readily grown adjusted to America. There was still a lot of prosperity, opportunities and so many things to discover in the country, after all. I easily adored my university of Harvard as I believed most students should've, and my first year at the university was splendid. I was able to obtain good marks, particularly with psychology and medicine, which corresponded with my high passion for the two subjects. Sasuke and I continued to take philosophy, though we rarely admitted that it was for each other.
Sasuke's past reputation had died down over the months, and no longer was he considered someone as pessimistic as he had past been seen as. Even Ino didn't think that he was 'trouble' anymore—well, not as much as she used to. My original friends were also far more accepting and less judgemental of him when I brought Sasuke over to their table, even though Sasuke preferred to just spend his time with me.
I knew that I had unravelled many of Sasuke's forlorn secrets, but there was still a sense of him hiding something every time he looked at me. With each passing day, his eyes seemed to be softer towards me, and the unfamiliar emotion present in his onyx orbs became greater. If I had been the Sakura that I had been a year ago, I would've believed that he had fallen in love with me, but now I grew to respect Sasuke as a very close friend, my protector; somebody that I trusted with every part of me.
It was only until Sasuke pulled me to the Charles River that we had been at months ago that I actually started to believe that something was truly different about him. His hold on me was gentle and it seemed like he never wanted to let me go. This time it it was springtime, and there river was flowing with the purity of ocean blue. The breeze was warmer than it had been last time and the ground was no longer snow, but smooth fields of grass.
"How long have we known each other now?" Sasuke asked melodically, his velvet voice floating out of the blue.
I turned to him, my eyes confused at the question. He normally didn't ask much about our friendship. "About a year now... I think...?" I guessed.
He met my eyes and his smirk was the closest to a smile that I had ever seen. There was definitely something different here. I know that Sasuke had never been good with his emotions and seemed to hold back a lot, but for the past few months, I swear he would've fooled me for not being the tainted and tragedy-prone boy that he was. He astounded me with how strong he pushed through life when so easily could he have gone the wrong path. I could imagine him being the gun-loving criminal instead of the saviour that I saw him as.
"Hn," he murmured in response, contemplating something for the moment. Minutes passed before he spoke again. "Do you remember the last time we were here?"
I smiled, reminiscently. "Of course I do."
He took a breath. "And you knew that the only way I believed I could redeem myself was dying to save someone else, just in the way my brother did?"
I nodded slowly. I didn't know where he was going with this. He never brought up personal issues without me doing so myself.
Sasuke sighed deeply, looking like he wished I understood what he was trying to say so that he didn't need to do it himself. "Sakura... because of you, I realise that I never need to redeem myself," he muttered, looking to the ground, "but if I had to, I would protect you until my dying day and gladly put my life on the line for you." You would be the person I would save. I wouldn't want to do it for anyone else.
By now, I was stifling inside how happy I truly felt. I had to let it out. "So, is this your way of proclaiming your love at first sight for me?"
He smirked, amusement dancing in his eyes. "You could look at it that way, yes."
At that, I took it as an invite to lean comfortably in his snugly chest. He held me possessively against him as we both stared out at the river. I turned around in his hold so that I was facing him, though I had to look up to actually stare up into his eyes. His smirk carefully melded into a smile, and it was sweeter than the scent of flourishing flowers that was known to the season of spring. He kissed my hair. "I love you, Haruno Sakura."
I giggled with the young femininity that inside, I knew I still was. I may have been a Harvard student and in love with the most darkest and haunted man possible, but he made me feel twelve again. Literally. I pinched his cheeks as he scowled. "And I you, Uchiha Sasuke."
For some odd reason, there was a lot of conspiracy and anxiety swarming within America in 2001.
I rarely watched any news, and having moved in with Sasuke, I watched it even less. We would usually just spend time in silence or reading our own books, or just some movies. The crime rate, as Sasuke had announced, had risen due to the unexplainable rising panic. Of course, it was typical for Sasuke to be studying statistics and trends when it came to crime; it was something he did on the side from university studies. However, despite reading so much into crime, the rising rate was enough to get him more alarmed than usual as we ventured through outside locations. If I wasn't so eager to explore more through America, we would've spent every day inside of his house.
He held me close to him as we walked from the university through the late nights of Massachusetts. The silence was comforting – as it always was with Sasuke – until a sudden spark of heat signified that a few blocks away from us, the city was ablaze.
Sasuke cursed. He hardly ever spoke profanities. "Riots," was all he muttered. He sped through the blocks of the city, pulling me along with him, until we reached the site. There were multiple teenagers who were rioting through the stores, breaking the glass and stealing items. Only a few of them, however, held guns. The rest of them had knives. But that was enough to set Sasuke on his own fire. He narrowed his eyes.
I nudged at his leather jacket. "Sasuke," I murmured, fearful. "There's too many of them. Don't do this." I had always believed that Sasuke's sense of justice would get him into trouble some day.
Nonetheless, there were police already at the location, bearing their own arms. This was sufficient for Sasuke to participate, and once again, he pushed me back, commanding me to not get involved. Unfortunately enough, the first incident at the convenience store was not the only event until now. Sasuke had became a frequent contestant in solving crime, and he was rising as notorious in the state of Massachusetts, not only because of being a labelled survivor of Columbine, but also for his anti-gun beliefs. And at the same time, this only put a bigger target on his back. I wouldn't dare think of the people who wanted to kill someone like Sasuke, however, they were bound to exist.
While the police officers were occupied with telling the rioters the traditional 'hold your hands in the air,' Sasuke decided this as the appropriate time to pounce onto the teenagers. The second he did, the police officers rushed forward, joining him in combat. None of them used guns, but of course, that was not by their choice. Police officers just weren't allowed to shoot until matters became more severe. Even though I was trembling in my own concern for Sasuke, I did not miss how one of the teenagers carried a lethal weapon.
A machine gun.
The ammunition wrecked through the area around the police officers as Sasuke knocked down some of the teenagers, only into unconsciousness, until he was stopped by the alarming sound of the bullets. He marked his eyes onto the catalyst, being the teenager with the machine gun. Sasuke's eyes turned murderous. He may have hated shotguns... but machine guns were always utterly immoral.
In a matter of time, though the machine gun had caused havoc, most of the teenagers were downed. The only remaining problem was the machine gun—and Sasuke had all the intentions to rid of that. He surged forward with his idiosyncratic adrenaline and agility, changing directions and movements in all means to avoid the bullets. However, Sasuke was never stupid, and he knew that the clueless teenager would have to refill ammunition some time soon.
That time came, and Sasuke rose to the opportunity. Leaping like a lion onto its prey, he launched his fist into the teenager's face, but unlike others, the force wasn't great enough to abruptly down him. This teenager was much more taller and built in figure, so it would be more of difficulty. I couldn't help but to walk forward, trying to sustain my tension. I hadn't realised that I had came into line with the police officers.
And with one more last attempt to terrorise, the teenager rose forward, letting out his last series of rounds.
Being the girlfriend to a tragedy-prone boy must've somewhat influenced me, because I was struck through the shoulder. I fell instantly. I remember watching Sasuke's eyes change into horror and anger. Hand-to-hand combat, he knew, wasn't going to stop the teenager from unloading even more. When my head landed onto the harsh concrete, I looked up to use my last moments of consciousness to view Sasuke's reaction and hope that he wouldn't react too drastically.
But he did.
Pulling out a gun from his pocket with an expression of pure fury, Sasuke aimed the muzzle at the teenager and pulled the trigger.
The bullet spun through the air, finally breaking through the teenager's knee. He yelped in pain and fell as fast as I did, but with far more suffering. Blood erupted from the injury and splashed onto the cold ground. Something was so familiar about that motion. Sasuke had known the points of the body that was designed to kill, and what was not. The shot to the knee would not kill the boy, but it would keep him down.
However, I didn't think at all of that. All I could see was the gun in Sasuke's hand. He had used a gun. Everything he had promised not to do. I watched with watery eyes as he stormed towards me, the gun becoming more apparent.
It was a 12-gauge shotgun.
I woke up to a slight beeping, and I knew I was in a hospital, being a medical student.
Unsurprisingly, Sasuke was sitting in a seat next to the hospital bed, wide awake. His eyes shone with recognition as my own opened, but I was far from pleased. He could tell that immediately from my disappointed expression.
"Sakura..." he started, but trailed off as I glared at him.
I shook my head, denying his request. "Sasuke, you used a gun. When you performed that very action you were going against everything you believed in." Usually, I wouldn't have been that upset as most Americans were fond of their guns, but it was Sasuke. I valued his beliefs as much as he did and when it came to the point that he defied it, I was shocked at the change. Shocked and confused.
He pulled his chair closer to me and stared into my eyes, trying to make me understand. "Sakura, you were hurt," he murmured, soothingly, but his eyes flashed with anger at remembering. "You know that I would do anything to keep you out of danger."
I didn't say anything, and he sighed, brushing his hair back with his hand. "I admit that what I did was not myself—" he muttered, looking back at me for forgiveness, but I just kept waiting for him to continue. He pursed his lips. "—and I could've handled the situation better, but when I saw you were shot, Sakura, I just couldn't think. All I could see was that you might die like Itachi did and I just—I couldn't—wouldn't bear with that thought."
"So you used the same weapon that was used to kill your brother."
Sasuke gazed at me, defeated. I knew that statement could not be justified, even if I understood the emotional reasoning behind it. Sasuke brought his hand over towards me and held mine in his. "Sakura, I'm sorry." His voice was hoarse, and it hit a notch with me.
I just nodded with soft eyes, accepting this predicament, for I would be the only person that Sasuke would ever apologise to.
I only spent a week in recovery, it seemed that the bullet through the shoulder – despite the exhaust of blood – was one of the luckiest shots I could get as there were no vital organs or muscles.
From that time, I believe that Sasuke had become much more looser with his personality, and though he maintained the same sense of justice, he wasn't so intense about the issue. To be honest, I wouldn't mind if he had stayed the way he was, because that was him. I don't know what it was about me that enabled me to be sympathetic, however even with someone as emotionally wrecked as Sasuke, I knew I could always tolerate it. I was beginning to love him that much, even if I was not even twenty.
My adoration for him was proven when he offered two tickets to board a coach from Massachusetts to New York City. He explained that the reason why he had chosen to do this was that he knew I wasn't that knowledgeable of America, and with New York City being the prime populous city of America and hence surely the centre of all globalisation and integration, he assumed that I would be more than interested.
I was. Back then, nothing had seemed as glamorous as New York City.
We packed our bags on a calm, autumn night and farewelled our university friends before taking one more night's sleep in the halls of Harvard. I would never had of guessed that for one of us... it would be the last.
By the time we arrived at New York City, the night lights were welcoming us.
We had decided that we would find a hotel for a night and then venture through New York City the next morning.
Before we went to shut the lights as we laid together in one bed, Sasuke turned to me, with his shining midnight eyes. "I think a wonderful way to wake up to tomorrow would be at the Twin Towers." At the time, I hadn't known what the Twin Towers were, but the famous name was much more at home to my ears than the World Trade Centre of Lower Manhattan was.
I nodded tiredly as he kissed me on the forehead.
Why didn't I say no...
The day was the 11th of September, 2001.
We woke up at eight in the morning, late enough to have received enough sleep, but early enough to catch the bliss of morning. We hurriedly got dressed, hoping to arrive to the destination of the Twin Towers as soon as possible. I had only seen the Twin Towers through photographs or the television, but it had always seemed so momentous: the two very simple yet structured skyscrapers that stood tall amongst all of the urbanisation.
And once we got there, I was shocked of how high the two buildings actually rose up to. It was amazing. The buildings were beautiful, in their own unique way, reaching up to the heavens. Sasuke held me close as the winds brushed past us. We both stood in silence as we looked to the Twin Towers in admiration and awe. He leant towards my ear. "Wonderful, isn't it?"
I smiled. Yes, yes it was.
Then, he pulled away from me, returning the smile on my face. "How about I go up there first, Sakura? I wonder if I can see you from all the way up there."
I grinned, nodding eagerly now. "That'll be an amazing picture to take. Especially if I can zoom." I held up my camera.
He looked at his watch. "It's a little past eight-forty. I'll be back in five minutes." After one more kiss to the forehead, he was gone.
I can't possibly explain to you how much I've looked back on this moment. How many times I've played it over and over in my head, slower and slower each time, just wishing that I could've said something different. Maybe I could've just said that we should get some food first, or even, a drink. In this case, a few measly minutes mattered. On some days, I wish I went up those buildings with him. But on most days, I realise there is a reason why it ended up this way—that he did, and I didn't.
By the time Sasuke would have been riding up an elevator, the first sign that something was wrong had already occured. I was already multiplying the zoom on my camera, trying to capture Sasuke amongst the height of the building... until planes that were far too close came into view. I heard screaming. People were starting to panic. They had never seen a plane this close.
Life was cruel, at the very interval of 8:46am. Because the second I caught Sasuke in the lens, so did I catch the plane colliding into the building.
I saw his eyes widen with fear, the reflection in his orbs mirroring the impending danger of the plane. And then... nothing but erupting fire.
I can remember the entirety of me tearing up and realising that the building was burning down. I knew he was far too high up the building to ever have escaped, but every part of me didn't want to believe it. Every part of me wanted to believe that he wasn't lying and that he really was going to come back and that we were going to discover the rest of New York City and that he wasn't dead because he couldn't be dead because he saved people and I loved him and he just didn't deserve to die and GODDAMIT SASUKE—
He was dead.
People always say that heroes never die.
But if heroes never die, how would we come to realise their very impact on our lives? How would we ever gather the courage to change into something far more beautiful ourselves? How would we ever obtain the initiative to act towards the better?
I know that at the time of 9/11, I believed that Sasuke's death was far too horrid, far too unfair. I felt as if he had been pulled from under my skin and that I would be bitter for the rest of my years, but this was never to be. I began to accept that tremendous events, such as that, always happen for a reason. I believe that it occurred to mould me into the person that I am today.
The year is 2007, and life is beautiful.
I suppose that comment can be opposed as I'm watching the news reports on the very recent Virginia Tech massacre, a tragedy which stole the lives of 32 people. However, with every wrong that passes by, an opportunity for good to rise is born.
Sasuke was only one hero in the books of history. Whether it was Martin Luther King Jr. or Oskar Schindler, all heroes have touched the lives of others, and only when they are gone do we stand up to comprehend the goals that we have to carry on from them.
Heroes aren't in any way the sport stars you see on television. And they aren't singers who make top hits, or actors who contribute to box office winners. In perspective, we could all be heroes, because the only thing you have to do is to combat wrongs.
So stop looking for Batman wings, or Superman's flying ability. We don't need to have webs shooting out of our hands either, or blades from our fingers. We just need to be ourselves. We just need to be humane.
I am Haruno Sakura, and for the first time in years since Sasuke's death, I am not afraid to board a plane. Why am I taking a plane, might you ask? Well, ever since Sasuke's involvement in my life, my career path has slowly wavered from a doctor to a psychiatrist. I believe that of some sorts, with Virginia as my destination, I will be able to help victims from massacres just like Sasuke—and in one way or another, that will keep him alive within me.
After all, a person may physically become deceased, but their personalities, morals and most importantly, their influence, will never die.
PLEASE READ: As I am aware that most of my readers are American, I must state that it is none of my intention to offend anyone who might have suffered from the disasters of the Columbine High School Massacre, 9/11 or the Virginia Tech Massacre. All respect to the victims and those who unwillingly became involved and affected. The personalities and opinions in this story were also purely created for the development of the characters.
um. yeah. This was a big leap to take considering the momentous atmosphere that this story holds compared to all the others, and the little factual inputs that I had in this story. I really do hope that no offence was created, but ever since I watched Michael Moore's documentary Bowling for Columbine, I just knew that I had to do this. Sasuke was absolutely stunningly beautiful as a character in this story as well. He was just... different. The knight in shining armour that we never really come to comprehend, because it isn't a prince, it's merely a solider fighting for their own ethics and morals.
Reviews are appreciated. :)