This is inspired by the designs for both characters from The Last movie. I guess it's set in that timeline, too, or some time after it, even. Check it out if you haven't seen, to get a better grasp of their looks!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

the fire's out but still it burns

by DeepPoeticGirl

It was a good mission, she thought, as she made her way home and slipped off her ANBU mask, letting out a long sigh. A hand reached to undo her ponytail, fingers running softly through the pink, crimson stained locks. I haven't slept in three days and I reek of sweat and blood, but it's been a long time since I've had any ANBU solo mission. I'm glad Naruto let me have it, even if he advised me against it. He worries about me too much, these days. She then rubbed at the bloodied ends of her hair, frowning. I should probably take a shower before I do the briefing, though.

Sakura sighed again, nodding lightly to herself and running the back of her hand over her tired eyes, rubbing away any sleepiness. Her other hand palmed the inside pockets of her vest for her house keys, trying to find which one she had put them in. She pulled them out when she found them, sidestepping the individual waiting politely a few ways away from the doorsteps of her apartment building, while offering a soft apology. It was probably a visitor waiting to be buzzed in.

"So it's true."

And just like that, she froze, grip slackening so suddenly that her keys dropped to the ground with a weak clank.

Because she knew that voice. Even when they hadn't seen each other in three years, even when they hadn't spoken a word to one another during that span of time—she could still recognize him in a heartbeat.





"Hm? What's up, Sakura-chan? You don't look so well."

"…Have you seen Sasuke-kun around?"

"Nah, last time I saw him must have been a week ago." Pause. "Wasn't he with you?"

"Not… since five days ago."

"He'll show up, Sakura-chan. He's probably just moping around somewhere."




She didn't know how long she stood there, her back facing him, with a slackened jaw and widened eyes, looking like a damned statue. She didn't know how long she remained silent, unable to find her voice.

But she wouldn't let him have the upper hand, refusing to acknowledge that his presence had caused her entire body to halt, and her brain to run wild on the quiet, hushed whisper of his name, like a tireless, broken record.

Slowly, she bent down and picked up her keys from the ground, focusing on keeping her breathing tranquil as she sifted through them all to find the right one. She hoped that he wouldn't notice her lightly shaking hands.

"What's true?" she eventually replied, calmly making her way up the steps to her door. She took great effort not to tremble as she slipped the key into the lock.

But when she heard him step forward, she tensed again.

"That you got promoted to ANBU," he said, as he climbed the steps as well.

Sakura tried to ignore the sudden proximity between them, but she couldn't help herself from sliding just a little closer to the left and away from him. She let out a soft, quiet exhale, clenching her unoccupied hand.

"What," she said, throwing him a brash look over her shoulder, but never quite looking at him, "you didn't think I had it in me?"

Her gaze stayed focused on his chin, eyes tracing the scar on the right side of his face with careful precision. Then, he frowned, and her own jaw slackened, throat growing tight. She whipped her head around again, finally twisting the key around and opening the door.

"That's not…"

Raising a hand up, Sakura waved dismissively, yanking the door open. "Forget it," she muttered, pushing herself inside the hallway and climbing up the stairs. She was too tired to fight him. "I don't care. I got to where I am because of my hard work, that's all that matters."

It was a harsh and sullen reply, and in the years before he left again, she never would have spoken to him that way—but he had left her, them, without saying goodbye, and without telling her if he was ever going to come back. He'd left without telling her why, without telling her his reasons—and when she'd finally figured out he was gone, she shattered worse than ever before.

She couldn't remember how long she spent locked up in her apartment, windows locked and curtains pulled shut, heartbreak weighing so heavy on her body that she couldn't even bear to get out of bed. She didn't even have the energy to shower, or cook herself much of anything. For weeks, she lost the will to carry on with her normal life—instead wishing nothing more than to sleep and never wake up, to stay in her dreams where Sasuke was still at her side… at their side.

He had truly broken her, in every possible way.

So when he followed after her to her apartment, it was hard to suppress the angry tears that gathered at the corners, and to hide the knuckle-white clenching fists from his sight. Because he had no right to come back like this—unannounced and unexpected. He had no right to show up at her door and wait for her the way that he did, with no apologies or explanations ready to spill from his lips. He had no right to act like he had never done anything wrong… like he hadn't burned her heart to ashes.

In those three years he was gone, she had never forgiven him for doing this to her.

And she hated him for it. She wanted to punch him, to shove him up against a wall and yell at him, to scream and cry and shout about how much he had hurt her, how much he was still hurting her, to slap him for coming back so brashly, acting like what he did was completely normal—

(and god it wasn't and he knew it, he had to know, he had to have known how much this would have hurt her, the filthy little lying bastard—)

—and to wrap her arms around him, sag against his chest, whispering how much she missed him, how much she loved him, and how much she wished he'd never leave again.

(And this was why she hated herself: for that tiny, tiny part of her that found itself glad to see him again, despite all the hurt he caused.)



"Have you heard anything?"

"Not yet, Sakura-chan."

"It's been three months… where could he be?"

"I don't know. But we'll find him, I swear."

"Sasuke-kun… I hope you're okay."



It was only out of habit that Sakura headed for the kitchen to make tea, once they were finally inside her apartment. She hadn't realized what she was doing until she had entered the room, nails biting into her skin as she inwardly cursed herself. She'd have no choice but to go with it, not wanting to seem like a disoriented idiot with Sasuke tagging along her tail. So she headed to the left-side cupboards and fetched the porcelain cups there, brows furrowed in deep annoyance, before turning towards the ones on the far right to retrieve some tea sachets.

But she found herself stiffening in shock once she saw Sasuke there, doing exactly that. Her eyes narrowed, teeth grinding together quietly because it made her so angry to realize he remembered exactly where she kept her tea, even after three years. How was she supposed to convince herself that he left because he didn't care, now? Sasuke was an intelligent ninja, but he never would have made the effort to remember something so inane, if he hadn't cared.

Unable to help herself, she whispered softly, "Why are you here, Sasuke?"

(She was proud of herself, once she'd realized she'd omitted the affectionate suffix.)

She saw the defined, beautiful muscles of his back tense up. She almost sighed at that.

Then, quietly, he said, "Didn't know it was a crime to come back to my home village."

Her grip tightened on the mugs. "Don't play dumb with me, Sasuke. Last you told me, you couldn't stand this place."

He was silent.

Sakura swallowed the lump in her throat, feeling the familiar sting of tears. Of course he wouldn't answer, she thought, shaking her head a little. She wiped her hand over her moist eyes and cleared her throat a little, pushing down the disappointment and hurt from his ever-constant silence as she turned towards the counter and flipped the switch for the water boiler. But when she shifted to glance at him once more all but a few moments later, she found herself growing tense all over again.

Because he had moved, too, so that his body was facing towards her. And he was looking at her like he had so much to say, like he wanted to explain, but couldn't seem to find the words or the will to express himself.

He never had been any good at it, she remembered. Sasuke had always done fine with explaining his goals and what he wanted to do and why—but never really could talk about the real, emotional reasons behind those motives. He had always done his best to hide his feelings and vulnerability, through it all.

For this reason, she knew he wouldn't talk, no matter how much he looked like he wanted to. And to be honest, she didn't think she really wanted to hear it, anyway. How long had she spent wondering what it was that she did wrong? How many nights had she spent awake in bed, thinking of all the reasons he could have gone? She had been so caught up in the past, and on the hopes he would be coming back—so much that it held her back. It was only this past year that she saw how useless it was to cling to questions she would likely never get the answers to. And now that she had the opportunity to know why… she didn't feel like delving back into the past.

Despite all that, there was no denying that the years had been good to him.

Unable to help herself, Sakura's gaze found itself slowly tracing along the lines of his figure, taking it all in, from his broadened, squared shoulders, to the taunt, developed muscles of his arms, down to his lean, fit lower physique. Her mouth watered a little.

Then, her green eyes pulled up the length of his body to note the more defined structure of his face, running along the line of his strong jaw, to his high cheekbones and aristocratic nose, over to his thin lips and the thick scar on his pointed chin. His hair had grown too, a little longer and a little wilder, bangs poking out from under the loose, layered purples binds wrapped around his temples.

Sasuke had grown so much in the past three years. Tall, scarred, robust and toned—he was all man now, every trace of once boyish features gone.

Her shoulders went slack. He looks good, she thought to herself, biting the inside of her cheek. He looks… better.

Somehow, it hurt to admit that.




"Sa-Sakura-chan, what are you—"

"Where is he?"

"I don't know, Sakura-chan, he—"

"Naruto, where the hell is he?!"

"I swear, I don't know! We just—we heard he's been traveling around. That's all I know, I promise. I'd never keep something like that from you!"




The sound of rustling clothes caught her attention. Surprised, Sakura blinked in an effort to refocus, breath hitching in her throat once she finally realized that Sasuke was approaching her in slow, steady steps. Her hands shook visibly, and he paused, at that. She watched, trembling, as he stopped only barely two feet away, and looked at her like he was hesitating to do something. Her teeth closed once more around the inside of her cheek, anxiously.

Then, he moved. His hand outstretched carefully—like he thought any sudden movement would send her running—and he offered the tea sachets he'd taken from the cabinet earlier. She couldn't help but to stare at them, like she was unsure of what to do. Like she didn't know if she wanted to accept them. It made him frown.

("You're telling me that Sasuke-kun, he—you're telling me he left on his own free will, left us, without saying a word, so he could travel around villages?")

Sakura's hands tightened around the cups again, the force of her hold nearly cracking the base. Her lips mulled into a thin line of discontentment.

("It… looks like that.")

Anger bubbling up in her stomach, she swung on her heels to face the counter again, nearly slamming the cups down before moving swiftly to the cabinets on the right, muttering, "No thanks. Not the type of tea I wanted."

She swore she could hear him gritting his teeth.

Good, she found herself thinking as she grabbed a packet of chamomile tea from the tin box. Let him get angry. She didn't even glance at him as she turned back around and headed towards the water boiler. He deserves it.

The moment she flipped off the switch, however, there was warmth at her back. She sucked in a breath, stiffening like she'd just been burned, nearly knocking over the container when his arms shot out and caged her in against the cornered edge. She trembled a little as his mouth drifted in a soft caress over her shoulder, his long bangs tickling her cheek. She hated herself for missing the heat of his touch, of his body on hers.

"Why don't you let me explain before you go off pretending you hate—"

Sakura knocked her elbow into his stomach, harshly pushing him off with a snarl. She ignored the throaty grunt that slipped from his mouth, too angry to care.

"Fine then," she spat out, grabbing his long, black popped collar and gritting her teeth against the furious tears brimming from her eyes. "Explain it to me, Sasuke. Explain to me what the hell went on through your head when you decided that leaving this village without telling any of us was a good idea! Explain to me how in the world you thought it was the right thing to do to leave the ones that care about you and risked everything to bring you back!"

Her mouth formed a grimace as the tears finally spilled over, forest green eyes shining with such anger and such pure, unadulterated heartbreak that he almost couldn't bear looking at her. Gripping his collar tighter, she went on, brokenly, "Explain to me how you could leave me to wake up in a bed that was two sizes too big, how you could leave like that without saying a word—like I didn't mean anything to you! Like we didn't meant anything to you!"

He kept silent, looking at her wrecked, bared out form—at what he'd left behind. And when his gaze softened, it was then that Sakura finally released her hold on him and stepped back, wiping her eyes and her cheeks. Building back her walls.

She refused to look at him after such a moment of weakness, closing her eyes and wrapping her arms around herself.


She felt a touch to her waist, and her gaze snapped back open, heated and furious. "Don't you fucking touch me," she snarled, knocking his hand away and glaring at him with all the fury she held in her heart, for him. When he tried to grasp her forearms, she knocked his hands away again, shoving him back. She could feel her heart pounding painfully against her chest when he came forward again, eyes narrowed as he slipped his arms around her and pulled her tight against him, restraining any rough movements with his strong hold.

"Let me go!" she cried out against him in protest, swearing mindlessly at him, pushing at his chest with weak hands in a struggle to get him to release his grip. She hated how her muscles weakened at his touch, hated how wistfully she had missed him reaching out to her like this. He grunted once she started pounding with one fist and pushed her against the counter, his own hand flying up to grasp her wrist tightly. "Let go, Sasuke! Don't touch me, stop touching me—"

"Sakura," he whispered, shaking his head and holding her sturdily. He fisted the material of her shirt tighter, lips thinning. "Stop it—you're going to end up hurting yourself."

Her heart squeezed painfully in her chest, as she looked up at him with misty eyes. Feeling crushed, she tipped her head down and whispered softly, shakily, "What do you care if I get hurt? You left me without saying a word, and you knew it would break me. But you left anyway." Her jaw clenched. "You don't care if I get hurt."

Tears blurred her vision as silence met her words. And just as she was starting to think she'd gotten it all right, two calloused fingers pressed at the bottom of her chin, urging her to look up. She tipped her head to meet his gaze, like he wanted her to, and her mouth ran dry at the sight she was met with. He was looking at her with his dark, dark eyes clouded with a plethora of emotions that made her falter.

But before she could even think of anything to say, his head dipped down, and he smashed his lips against hers in a rough, ferocious kiss, pulling her closer to his form, while he moved to cup the base of her neck for better leverage. Breath hitching, she stiffened for a moment, finger pressing weakly against his chest as she decided whether or not to push him away, but when his thumb brushed her jaw, all defying thoughts jumped out of her mind, and she started responding just as intensely to his kiss. Her fingers buried themselves in his coarse, black hair, fiddling with the ends of his purple binds until they loosened and feel to the kitchen floor, before tugging insistently on his locks to pull him closer. He grunted softly, fisting the material of her shirt and dragging her even closer, until her body was all but snuggly fit against his own, from chest to hip.

His body felt so overwhelmingly warm against her own, and she couldn't help but to think about how much she missed having him here, about how much she missed the feeling of his mouth on her own, stealing the breath out of her lungs, while his hands palmed her body and filled it with an indescribable heat.

It was a bad idea, she knew. They still had so much to say and she was still so unbelievably angry at him, and she still wanted to yell at him more than anything in the world—

His hands wrapped around her thighs, and she gasped, all thoughts flying from her mind as she hiked her legs around his hips instinctively. Sasuke groaned a little as she clung to him, fingers digging into her flesh as he pulled her up on the counter and settled himself between her legs, slanting his lips on hers in another searing kiss.

From that moment on, it was all heat. Hands wandered all over each other, tugging off clothes. His shirt slipped off first, and then it was her pants and underwear—followed by his own. Sooner than they both realized, he was inside her, and she was arching her back, digging her nails into his chest while he fucked her hopelessly and without rhythm, desperate to feel everything he'd missed.

Sharp cries tumbled out of her mouth as he moved within her depths, hips bucking into his own in a frantic search for more friction, biting her lip at the erotic feeling of his tongue tracing around her pulse point. She slid a hand up to his neck, grasping the fine, baby soft hair at the back of his head, tugging his face away from her throat so she could capture his mouth in a feverish, languid kiss. He groaned a little against her, one hand grasping her ass to pull her closer as he suddenly started thrusting with a new fervor. She couldn't help herself from ripping her mouth away from his and moaning his name breathlessly, eyes rolling at the back of her head when his pace grew merciless, wild.

"Oh god," she uttered, clinging to his shoulders helplessly, clamping her teeth on his neck as his hands moved over to her thighs again, clutching tightly while he fucked her faster, harder, panting and grunting desperately against her skin. Her stomach wounded tighter and tighter, feeling the edge come closer and closer and closer

"Oh god, oh god, oh god, Sasuke I'm gonna—"

The words died on her lips, as her world exploded into passion. And for one long instant, she was aware of nothing else than that euphoria, shaking and quivering around her lover's form, gasping for breath and scratching at his back, cries of relief falling from her mouth unabashedly. She only ever distantly felt him clutch at her skin tighter, whispering her name in awe.

It was only when she came down from her high that she realized how close he was, gasping breaths against the soft skin of her neck, fingernails digging into her thighs almost painfully, while he slammed his hips against hers in a broken, urgent fashion, straining for his release. But when she squeezed her thighs around his hips and pressed her feet against his ass, he was there.

His feverish groan reverberated against her throat, and Sakura let her eyes fall shut tightly, trembling with pleasure as he tightened his grip on her and stiffened, grinding tensely into her. Her name fell from his lips in a hushed whisper once he fully spent himself, in a tone so adoring and affectionate that it caused her heart to flutter warmly. God, she had missed him.

And as they stood there, wrapped up in each other's arms, still connected in the most intimate ways, she couldn't seem to remember exactly why she was trying so hard to push him away from her, or why she had been so angry at him. She couldn't seem to remember why this was all so wrong.

(Everything seemed perfect, once again.)

"I'm sorry," he whispered, brushing his lips against her neck and collarbone. His fingers slid up to her hips, curling around the soft material of her ANBU shirt. He pressed his forehead to her shoulder. "I missed you."

(And then it wasn't.)



"Do you think he'll ever come back?"

"For sure, Sakura-chan! He'll come back when he's ready."

"But… what if he's never ready?"

Smile. "He will! He knows his home is with us."

"…I just don't know anymore, Naruto."



"Get off me," she whispered suddenly, and so, so softly, her tone holding a most dangerous edge that made him tense.

Slowly, she watched him pull back to look at her, eyebrows raised in obvious confusion and hesitance. Her frown deepened, and the fire in her chest rose, her lips twitching in a snarl before she shoved him as hard as she could, and finally yelled, "Get off me!"

She watched as Sasuke stumbled back against the wall, one hand clinging to his lowered pants, while the other caught his weight against the flat surface. He looked utterly bewildered, with his big wide eyes and his mussed up hair, mouth parted lightly. He couldn't seem to understand how she could still be so angry at him, when they had shared such an intimate moment.

Sakura almost wanted to laugh, then, cold and humorless. God, did he really believe that sex and a few pretty words could solve everything?

"You…" she started, exhaling harshly from her nose. She got back to the kitchen floor again and angrily pulled up her panties and her black slacks, shaking as she fiddled with the buttons. Once she was done, she locked gazes with him once more, her glare savage. Roughly, she snapped, "You can't just fuck me and say you're sorry and expect me to fall into your arms again after everything that's happened!" Sasuke visibly recoiled with surprise, but she didn't relent. "You left me, Sasuke! We were together for months, and the night before you left me, you told me you loved me! And then you just… you just fucking left me without saying a god damn word!

"I've tried so hard to understand why you did what you did in the past three years you were gone, Sasuke! Maybe at the time you'd just gotten back to Konoha, I would have understood but you were—you were happy here! You were trying to fix things and to make up for the mistakes you made, and everything was going so well—"

"Too well," he softly interjected, breaking her jumbled, earnest tirade.

She hadn't even realized, until now, how she'd broken down in tears through it all, hands laid protectively in front of her aching, pounding heart.

"…I got scared," he went on, his voice almost a whisper. He moved to fix his clothes up at last, gaze narrowed to the floor—like he was ashamed. "After that night I got—I couldn't—"

He clammed up, then, mulling his lips together. Unable to say the words he really wanted to.

A silence fell over them.

She could feel the fury washing away, then, bit by bit, as she realized what exactly he was trying to get to. Shame, unworthiness, helplessness… she could see it all so clearly on his face, and in the way he held himself, in that very moment. She could see how much it had scared him—how he was still scared. Especially now, trying to bare his heart out and offer the explanations she had so desperately sought out until this past year.

But even then, she couldn't seem to shake away the feelings of betrayal and anger that she still so strongly bore towards him. Because no matter how much it made sense, and how much she finally understood why—it didn't make leaving her like that any more acceptable.

What he had done to her… it was horrible and cold-hearted. Nothing could excuse leaving her to wake up alone after he'd finally confessed his love—even if he'd done so sounding like the most vulnerable, frightened soul she'd ever heard. Nothing could excuse the lack of goodbye, or promise of return, of letters and explanations; of leaving her to wallow in her sorrow, while she desperately sought to find out what she had done wrong. Nothing had given him the right to leave so suddenly, and without word, after these beautiful months they'd spent together.

Understandable or not, his actions had been cruel. And she couldn't find it in herself to forgive him, yet.

"What I did, Sakura… it was for the best," he said quietly, breaking the silence.

It shocked her that he was the first one to speak.

He stepped forward to get a little closer, and she couldn't help but to note the way his posture hunched. Then, when he was close enough, he raised his head and looked at her. She could feel her heart lurch at the regret she found.

"…I had things to work out on my own."

She swallowed tightly, clenching her hands to her chest to ease the painful fluttering.

Of course he did, she thought sadly. He always has things to work out, and he always has to do it alone. He'll never trust anybody else to handle his problems.

She felt so tired, suddenly.

"…You always do," she whispered to him, bowing her head. She didn't flinch when he stepped closer, or when his hands tentatively grabbed at her upper arms.

Encouraged by her lack of defiance and hostility, Sasuke's hands glided to the small of her back, pulling her against his body. The silent, soft-spoken apology and gentleness in his touch almost caused her to crumble, her small hands moving to cradle herself against his warm chest. Her forehead pressed against his neck closely.

Sakura's brows furrowed, a soft sigh leaving her lips. "I just don't see why you couldn't do that here," she admitted, fingers pressing gently into his naked skin.

His arms finally slipped around her, holding her close. He didn't respond, and she frowned at that, but she couldn't seem to find it in herself to push him away when he buried his face in her hair and sighed. He seemed so happy and content, and he was so warm—she had missed this affection all too horribly.

She was still angry, and she was still hurt, but no matter how upset she was, this was still Sasuke, and she was still weak to his touch, and she still loved him more than anything in the world.

But that didn't mean she would let him off easy.

"I'm still pissed at you," she mumbled, one hand sliding up to the back of his neck to brush the fine hairs at the base. "And I still haven't forgiven you. It'll take a lot more than some amazing sex and a simple apology."

She felt him smile against her hair. "I know, Sakura."

I know it seems like a sort of abrupt ending, but I kinda wanted to just make it clear that not everything is gonna be perfect with them right off the bat, and they still have so much left to work on to explain what's happened and for her to be able to forgive him. I wanted to leave it off where it was clear that she was still so angry, and so hurt after what he did because he did such a shitty thing and it was not okay at all, but he is still her weakness and she still loves him more than anything in the world and she will forgive him eventually, when they finally get to working their things out.

Idk if this is clear, but yeah. I just. I love this. I don't remember where it came to me but the whole thing was just so inspired by the idea of them having hot, needy, desperate sex after some awful thing they want-but-don't-want to talk about. And it just escalated into this. And I just… personally, I think it's my second masterpiece. I worked so hard on this, and I think it came out pretty great. At least, I'd like to think so. I hope Sakura's emotions didn't seem too jumpy or sudden, especially in the end. But you gotta just keep in mind her character, you know? She's always been so quick at empathizing with him getting "weakened" by him.

Anyway, I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this! I really, really, really hope you enjoyed it!