He never thought it was going to be this way, but she slips through his fingers and all he can do is rip her name through his throat until it feels like it's bleeding. Her tear-stained eyes distance themselves from him, her watery drops falling on his cheeks, and he feels them pulling along every ounce of his humanity as she is dragged away by a force that is too strong for his sole arm to restrain.
Indra's arm is tightly wrapped around her waist but her arms still reach out, trying to hold on to something, anything, anything that will keep her beside him. His ancestor's grip holds her even closer, his face resting on her neck as his Sharingan looks back at Sasuke with a territorial expression.
After years of travelling alone, with only one hand, Sasuke feels more powerless and useless than ever.
It isn't supposed to be like this. Indra isn't supposed to be abducting her, not after all they had gone through together to get answers. The shinobi world should be at peace now, but Sasuke's heart feels more conflicted than during the war. It's all because of his curiosity, of his need to find out about the past. It's all his fault.
His reason for staying alive, his home, is being taken away from him once again. And he can't lose it. It's his fault that she is being taken away like a helpless puppet. Her pink hair covers her pained expression, covers her tears and the last sight he has of her. He cannot lose her, he repeats. She is too precious, too important to be taken away like this. Like his family once was.
Indra is taking Sakura away from him and he has to get her back at any cost.
"I have a request for you."
He stands in the centre of the room. No introductions are needed.
His old teacher looks up from the paperwork scattered on his office desk. There are no lights on; he and Kakashi share their preference for moonlit rooms over artificial light. Something about embracing and losing oneself in the darkness, Sasuke thinks. Hatake Kakashi is dressed in his Hokage attire, his mouth covered as always and his black eyes exposed to his former student. The last time they saw each other, he didn't look as tired. Kakashi is a man of battlefield, much like Sasuke.
Neither of them can stay in one place unmoved for too long, and Kakashi's appearance is evidence of his lack of physical activity outside of Kage duties.
"It's nice to know that you've stayed out of trouble," the Hokage comments. "Although if Naruto saw you he wouldn't be too happy."
At this, Sasuke lifts an eyebrow. "Why would that be?"
"You missed his wedding."
In all honesty, Sasuke did not pay attention to the small invitation that arrived with his summon a couple of months ago. His old teammates tend to send him invitations to different events in Konoha as a manner of keeping him updated, wishing for him to come and visit, or rather thinking that if he sees what he is missing he will have a change of heart and come back.
None of that would happen. There are still too many places to visit, too much to atone for. Two years isn't enough to make him want to come back to Konoha for good, no matter how much his heart has changed after the last time he could form a seal with two hands.
"It happened after the whole Ōtsutsuki Toneri business -which, by the way, thank you."
His brief visit to Konoha went unnoticed and he wouldn't consider it a proper return to his home village. Kakashi sends him a brief nod, both choosing to stay silent about his brief appearance.
"He and Hinata from the Hyūga clan got married. Something about falling in love in the moon."
Sasuke would have never pictured his best friend as the type of person to get married so quickly and at such a young age. But then again, Naruto is notorious for being the most exuberant person in all of Konoha's history. Even more than Senju Hashirama. Must be something about being Asura's reincarnation.
"What was your request?"
Sasuke remains silent, letting his mind rearrange his plans seeing as new circumstances appeared. When he speaks, his voice is on a leveled tone.
"After that whole ordeal," meaning when the moon was about to crash on their planet and all they had worked for would have been obliterated, "there have been rumours of an ancient chakra roaming around in the north of the Land of Fire."
"The moon's closeness must have changed something, and I have my suspicions as to what might be happening."
Kakashi leans back on his chair and scratches his covered chin. Sasuke tries not to think too much whether his old teacher has a beard underneath that mask or prefers a clean shave.
"You want to go to the north and see if you can learn anything from it," he concludes. "You're a big boy now, Sasuke. You've never asked for my permission to do anything before."
"I'm not asking for your permission, Hokage-sama. I have a request."
The room may be dark, but Sasuke can still see Kakashi's shoulders moving as he chuckles.
"Once again, what is your request?"
Seeing that the dobe is off starting his life with Hyūga Hinata, Sasuke is left with another choice. It isn't his first, because he knows of the village's dependence on her abilities. But if he is embarking on a new task, an unknown one, he needs someone trustworthy to watch his back.
Aside from Naruto, there is nobody better than her at doing that.
"I request that Sakura comes with me."
Two years ago, he promised that he would see her when he's back. He thanked her. And he cannot forget how she looked at him before his departure. Those huge green eyes, her flushed cheeks, the wind sweeping her pink hair. Sasuke knows he can trust his teammate, and has given her enough reason to trust him back. Before leaving to travel around the world, he willingly spent time with her to try and make up for all the times he let her down.
And she was just as welcome as always.
"Sakura is a jōnin now."
"And Tsunade relies on her at the hospital now that she's retired. She's also supposed to be assigned a genin team in three months when the students graduate."
"There's no one better than her."
Kakashi could throw every excuse at him, but Sasuke isn't going to change his opinion. The Hokage moves his chair in order to open his desk's drawers. After rummaging through piles of papers and files stuffed in them, he pulls out an orange manila folder and sets it in front of Sasuke. The black symbols on it read Team 7, and Kakashi opens it, showing him three different files.
"I am happy that you finally acknowledge your old teammate's abilities, Sasuke." He sets the thickest file on top of the folder. It has Sakura's name and information written on it, and dozens of pages recording her career. "However, she is very important to the village. Why should I let one of my jōnin, especially my own student, go off with a genin like you?"
That genin commentary was unnecessary.
"Because there's no one better than her." Sasuke cannot trust anyone else with his life, and whatever is happening in the north may be more than just an addition to his journey of atonement.
Kakashi sighs and rubs his eyes. He looks a lot smaller sitting in his office chair, or maybe Sasuke has grown too much since he was seventeen. "So you're asking for my permission to take her along."
"She would go with you to the end of the world without telling anyone. You know that."
"But she wouldn't betray her village."
Kakashi knows that's true. That's what sets Sasuke apart from Sakura and Naruto. Sasuke has spent too many years as a rogue ninja, and too much time arguing with himself whether it is worth it giving his loyalty to a village that had ripped his heart out. They never had to doubt their allegiance, knowing that Konoha would always support them.
The Hokage finally slumps back on his chair, his head resting on his left hand.
"I have only one condition," he says. "Seeing that her rank is higher than yours, she will be leading this mission. Furthermore, I reiterate my statement from the last time you left. If anything happens, my ass is on the line.
"And finally, if anything happens to Sakura, you will have to face much more than just me and Naruto."
"Now go away, I have some planning to do before the night's over and I need to contact Sakura."
The next day, her soft voice is the first thing he pays attention to.
"Sasuke-kun, welcome back."
It is accompanied by her sweet smile, her sincere eyes, the faint blush in her cheeks. This is the Sakura he remembers, the one he left behind because she has nothing to do with his past sins. The nineteen year old standing in front of him looks more like a young woman than a girl; her chakra feels stronger, her arm muscles more defined, yet her hitai-ate still sits proudly on her short hair and he is reminded of how long his has gotten.
The large gates of Konoha are as green as Sasuke remembers. The first rays of sunlight radiate on them. They radiate on her as well. He notices how much shorter she looks beside him, quite the opposite of their genin days when she was the tallest and Naruto the shortest.
"I'm pulling a lot of strings here, you two," Kakashi comments, hands in pockets. "And trust me, it wasn't easy to do all of this overnight."
Sasuke didn't sleep either, but he was not going to let his old teacher know about his brief stay at Naruto's new house. His mind is still not wrapped around the fact that Uzumaki Naruto is married.
"Thank you, Kakashi-sensei," Sakura bows. She then readjusts her backpack and sandals.
She hasn't given much of her attention to Sasuke after greeting him, and is busying herself with small tasks before they are left on their own. He can read her so well, even after years of being apart. Sakura still wears her emotions on her face.
"Come back in one piece."
And with those final words, Sasuke and Sakura set out to the north. After many tries and many years, this would be the first time that he accepts her company in his travels.
Indra's voice, so awfully similar to his own, resonates in his ears over Sakura's shrieks as they slowly disappear out of his sight. "You are my reincarnation, yet you don't deserve her. I have waited more than a thousand years to be with her, and you will not take that from me."
His limbs are frozen, yet his heart is beating so fast and his blood is boiling with rage. A familiar wave takes over his chest and mind, for he can't do anything else but stay paralyzed under Indra's jutsu. Desperation, anger, fear, loneliness, jealousy, injustice.
Sasuke cannot let this happen again.
Hi! So I don't know whether I should continue this or not. I saw the IndraSaku tag on tumblr and my mind started swimming in and out of endless possibilities. There is an outline of this in my head, and I will write it down in the near future. What do you think?