That drama was completely unnecessary, especially for Sasuke and Sakura who have already been through too much of this shit. I am still angry and upset, but I guess it gives me an excuse to delve back into my old angst roots.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

There is nothing but nonchalance and collected composure, as their gazes finally lock–but inside Sasuke feels messy and confused, and so hopelessly lost. He can see the way her eyes narrow, the way her small hands ball into fists at her side, can see the silent rage and sadness in the depth of those cold black pools she has so clearly inherited from him.

The look reminds him too much of the boy he had been so long ago, caught up in revenge and violence and hatred, and it makes him stiffen a little. He finds himself wishing that she had inherited her mother's eyes, instead. Maybe with them, the burden of his absence would have been easier to carry.

"Sasuke-kun…" his wife breathes.

His gaze breaks from his daughter, and shifts to look at Sakura. There is a hand to her chest, and her eyes are wide open, glimmering with freshness of tears. He sees her throat bob with a swallow, and a grimace takes to her lips, one he remembers always preceded her sobs, and that alone is almost enough to have him step forward and reach for her.

But then Sakura smiles, watery but happy, and wipes at her eyes with a hand. He stills, throat growing tight as she turns and reaches for her daughter, beckoning her out of the shadow of their home.

"Sarada," she calls softly, taking her hand in her own and clinging tightly. "This is–"

"Papa," Sarada finishes for her.

The smooth baritone of her voice is almost chilling, but even then, Sasuke can't help but to get flashes of a cute, dark haired two year old, screeching giggles as he pressed kisses all over her face and listened to her squeal, "Papa, Papa!"

The memory squeezes at his heart almost too painfully, but it is the cold, betrayed look in his daughter's eyes that causes his teeth to clench until they hurt, nails breaking the skin of his palms. His daughter is too angry to notice his loss of composure, but with the way Sakura brings a hand to her heart again, he knows his wife has.

"You…" his daughter starts, squeezing her eyes shut and clinging to her mother's hand tighter. "You… bastard." Sakura gasps, and half of Sarada's name slips from her lips, but Sarada shakes her head and frees herself, arms stiff at her side as she trembles and says, "For so long I… I always wondered what you were like! But you–you made Mama sad! You made her so… so sad sometimes, you–you weren't there! I needed my dad but you… Mama needed you… but Papa, you weren't there!"

Her head snaps up to look at him, and he stiffens, his heart crumbling and shattering to pieces as he takes in the grimace of her mouth and brokenness in her eyes, fat tears rolling down her cheeks as she shakes uncontrollably with grief.

"All the other kids, their dads were there… they played with them… and they were there for dinner… and christmas… and new years and… and their birthday." A sob wrecks her form, and Sarada crumbles to her knees, crying hard. "But Papa, you weren't there… you weren't there… you left Mama and let her take care of me alone, and… why… why didn't you stay…!?"

Sasuke grits his teeth harder, and he swallows the hard lump in his throat, his voice raw as he reaches to touch her shoulder and starts, "Sarada–"

His daughter slaps his hand away and stumbles to her feet, before she takes off into their home once more, hiccuping breaths and choking on whimpering cries. The rejection hits something like a stab to his chest, and Sasuke bows his head low, guilt burning in the pit of his stomach so acutely he could feel angry tears prickling at the corners.

His daughter hates him.


At the sound of his wife's voice, Sasuke shakes his head, and straightens himself again, tired, weary black eyes meeting her anguished, worried gaze.

"Make sure she's okay," he says. His voice is hoarse, and tight, and it gives her pause for only a moment, before she softly scurries down the hall to comfort their daughter.

("But Papa, you weren't there… you weren't there… you left Mama and let her take care of me alone, and… … why… why didn't you stay…!?")

"I had to," he whispers to himself, a heaviness settling into his chest. The tears burned even harder. "I… had to." To protect our family.

Looking down at his blood-stained palms, Sasuke could only wish she would understand, someday.

I don't expect the reunion to go this way, but some part of me wishes it would.

Anyway, other updates are on their way. They're just kind of being stalled because all I'm really focusing on atm is writing my longass oneshot about post-war and pre-epilogue SasuSaku. I'm down to almost 8,000 words and I think I'm two thirds done with it, but it might just be halfway done. I always seem to add scenes in between lol. Once that's out of the way, I'll get back to writing to the updates.