Sakura just blinked at him uncomprehendingly. She had a bit of a shake with the jerky movement of being twirled around, but when her gaze focused, she almost dropped the cup of coffee she was holding. It just couldn't be.

"Sasuke-kun."

She tried hard to hold it in, but it was hard to when only he occupied her thoughts for the last five years. She had always dreamt of calling out his name like this once more.

A slow smile was breaking through Sasuke's face when he noticed something glinting on her hand. It didn't take too much of a squint to recognize the gold band around her finger. He immediately withdrew his touch.

Sakura noticed where his gaze had landed, and she could only look down. He didn't need to know.

After a while, she looked up at him again rather awkwardly to make a quick greeting. "It's nice to see you again, Uchiha-san."

He didn't expect a reunion like this. He knew now that it was impossible to get back to what it was before, to have her back, but having her say his name so formally as if reinforcing the thick distance that had grown between them was a nightmare come true. He felt an unjustifiable sense of anger and envy bubbling up inside for that lucky man who now had the pleasure of having his name uttered by Sakura day and night.

He nodded stiffly, shoving down his fists inside his pockets.

And just like that, their conversation – what was supposed to be a splendid, rosy reunion – came to a standstill. Sasuke didn't feel like offering his belated obligatory congratulatory remark, and there was nothing left to talk about.

"I'm going then. See you around."

But before he could even turn away, Sakura's hand shot out to grab his wrist.

"Wait . . . Can we talk?"

It was pure instinct, and she knew she'd probably regret this later. But she'd gone through every layer of this painful process for the past years, and she'd like to believe she'd be immuned to the agonizing feeling by now.

Besides, if it meant being with him again for just one fleeting moment, then she'd willingly suffer a lifetime of bitter regret. They would finally have a closure soon, and she wanted to welcome it with a smile.

Sasuke just shrugged off her didn't need such empty gestures of her concern, didn't need her sympathy.

But still, he found himself agreeing with a silent nod.

They entered the shop once more, and a waitress came to take their orders.

"Hai, Sakura-san," the waitress said, giving them the menu.

Sakura just waved it off. Since she already had a cup of her own, she thought she'd be ordering for Sasuke alone, and she'd known what it would be by heart.

"It's okay, Megu-chan. Just give him a cup of espres – "

"No need," he cut in sharply.

Sakura looked at him briefly before smiling and bowing to the waitress who then eventually left.

"Things have been different, Sakura," he said before sneering, "You can't expect things to be the same like before, can you?"

Sakura winced at how icy his tone was. She was aware that it couldn't be the same but was that her fault alone? Wasn't he the one who had decided to let go in the first place? But instead of shooting back, she just nodded with a thin smile.

"How are you?"

He scoffed. He couldn't believe she still had the heart to ask that. He had already lied through his teeth when he insinuated that he no longer liked that particular coffee, that she no longer knew him as she had before, and he thought, with everything between them getting over soon, it wouldn't hurt to make a streak out of it.

"I'm well," he clucked his tongue, "Better."

She bit her quivering lips before taking a sip of her coffee. It hurt more deeply than she could imagine to hear him say he was happy. Without her. She dreaded being on the receiving end of the same question because she wasn't quite confident she could give him the same answer. He just couldn't know.

"You? You were gone for a long time," he said nonchalantly.

He wanted to stop caring, but he just needed to know if all his efforts on finding her were futile because she had gone to somewhere he couldn't reach or because she had been hiding from him. And he needed to know if she was a mother already so that he could also finally put to rest his selfish dream of building a family with her.

She gave him the only honest answer she could give. "I had to move to Okinawa. The shop opened a branch there and I had to take on the job."

She had remembered the day her boss told her about it, but she initially refused because she couldn't leave Sasuke. However, that night of Sasuke and Ino's engagement, she just knew she had to run away even if it was a cowardly thing to do.

Sasuke just looked at her stolidly as he recalled asking the coffee shop's owner about her whereabouts but was offered a negative answer. Then he surmised that of course, she wouldn't want him to know about it. It made sense after the all pain he had put her through.

Sakura couldn't understand his reaction so she began to elaborate. "It was supposed to be a temporary stay . . . " she trailed off because if she would be perfectly honest, she would have half a mind to let him know that she couldn't actually make it through for so long without seeing him.

"But then you met him," he supplied before eyeing the ring on her finger. He said it as indifferently as he could, never wanting to let her know just how much it was crushing him.

Sakura also looked at her ring. No. I couldn't forget about you.

But instead, she muttered a 'yes.'

She then noticed that unlike her, there was no sign of lifelong commitment on his finger. She was just about to ask about his wedding with Ino when he had beat her to it.

"When did you get married?"

He just needed to know for the sake of having a peace of mind. Just this last piece of information about her, and he could finally move on, let go of the what-could've-been.

Sakura then began to panic at being struck by an unexpected question. She folded her hands, touching her ring desperately before tearing her glance away.

"I don't think . . . it's any of your business now."

"Of course," he replied swiftly before standing up. "I'm going." And despite himself, he added, "Congratulations on your wedding."

She wanted to call him back, but she had already made her choice of lying to him. There was no turning back. This was enough, she thought. She had seen him for one last time. She could now move on and let go of the things that will now never be.

xxx

She said it'd be enough, but she just had to go back here before she would depart for Okinawa tomorrow. Her boss had already given her permission to leave her post there and work back here in Tokyo. He was willing to let her run the coffee shop that he was opening in a district just a few miles away, but she insisted that she go back there instead. She had also learned from him that Sasuke went to ask him about her five years ago but as promised, he didn't breathe a single world. The boss then asked her about their relationship, but she just shook her head to which he gave an understanding nod and a fatherly tap on her shoulder.

She drew out the key from inside her bag. The place was unlit, and she figured he would have no use for this apartment that they used to share now that he was a married man. It might've even been bought already by another person. But for the sake of their much-needed closure, she went back here to ;eave the key – this key that had once allowed her into his life.

But the door had been locked for years, and she doubted this key in her hands would ever fit again.

She was about to crouch to lay it on the floor when the door swung open. She looked up to meet those stony onyx eyes.

Startled, she fumbled for excuses to say. "Oh, sorry. I didn't – I guess . . . I guess I just want to return the key – "

Sasuke could only narrow his eyes at her. A turmoil of emotions stirred within him. He was beyond yet somehow less than hopeful as to what her purpose could be for suddenly showing in his doorstep. But most of all, he was confused and angry.

There was no stopping to this whirlwind sham of a romance, was there?

But before he could even speak, his phone rang, breaking through the stifling silence.

He looked at the screen before pressing it to his ear. "Ino. Yes. I'll be there."

Another pang of jealousy hit her, but as soon as he hung up, she found herself asking him.

"Are you staying here?" Because if you're with her, then why are you here?

He closed the door before facing her again. "I don't see how it's any of your concern," he replied coldly.

She composed herself even when it was proving to be more difficult by the minute. Of course, it was just my wishful thinking.

"Yes, I know. I just – "

Then Sasuke just couldn't take it anymore. He grabbed her shoulders and pushed her against the door. She'd never seen his eyes so feral before, and she was terrified that all he could ever feel for her now was nothing else but sheer wrath.

"Tell me, Sakura. Why are you here? Why did you have to return?" he asked, his voice, hard and breathless.

Tears were welling up, but she kept them in check. "I'm sorry," she could only mutter.

He let her go and turned away sharply, breathing out a heavy sigh, his hand crumpling his face. He didn't want to make her cry anymore. He never should've let her.

"You have nothing to apologize for. Just go. You shouldn't be here. You should be with your husband – "

She gave out a humorless chuckle. "You don't know anything."

When he faced her with a questioning expression, she knew she had to be ready to bear the last brunt of this emotional whiplash.

"The same thing goes for you, Sasuke! Why do you stay here? You should be with your wife!" she snarled, her fists clenching.

Sasuke shook his head. "I'm not married. Ino ran way with her lover the night of our engagement."

Sakura could only look at him, uncertainty and disbelief marring her features. He took this as a sign to continue. She had the right to know even when it would no longer change a thing.

"I drove back here," he continued, "But you'd already left. I tried searching for you but . . . but that's over now. We have nothing else to talk about."

She then rounded on him, her tears now freely streaming down. "You didn't believe me when I told you I loved you. I was so sure, Sasuke, and you just stepped on my feelings like that – "

"Because how could you?" he shot back.

"You made me, Sasuke!" she exclaimed in despair before jabbing a finger onto his chest, "You made me believe that you cared for me when all of that was just out of pity – "

Then completely throwing his self-restraint out the window, he kissed her with all that he had, securing her by the waist, turning them about so he could open the door. They were a walking pair of chaotic mess as they clung onto each other desperately. Sakura palmed his cheeks, forcing her way into his mouth and battling it out with him, needing to feel nothing else but him and only him.

Sasuke brought his other hand to cover one of hers when he felt the cold, metallic reminder of the reality. He broke away sharply. He could see her swollen lips, and a sense of pride bloomed in him upon realizing she had responded, but the feeling was immediately squashed by the glare of her ring even in this darkness, with only a faint sliver of light streaming in from the outside.

"Just go," he said abruptly before moving to shuffle out the door.

Sakura, however, blocked his way. "You can't." She needed to feel him again for now and forever. She couldn't let him go away this time. She would fight now that she knew she had stood a chance all this time.

She just had to clear up this misunderstanding.

"Move," he ordered sternly.

"No. I let you get away the last time. But not this time. Not ever."

He looked at her with disgust. "What games are you playing at, Sakura?"

"This isn't a game to me, Sasuke."

He snorted derisively. "Keeping a man by your side when you already have a hus – "

Sakura launched herself onto his chest. She didn't want to hear such painful accusations from him. But he could only offer those eyes devoid of any love for her. She backed away, hurt and grieved.

She shook her head hard as she stared at the floor, her tears never ceasing.

"I'm not married, Sasuke. I'm not!"

She then crumbled down onto the floor, sobbing into her hands. "Why can't you believe me? I've loved you all these years, can't you see? God knows how much I've tried to forget about you. I told myself I'd stay there for good but I can't. I needed to see you. I just want to see a glimpse of you and thought that I'd be fine with just that because I thought, I thought you're married! It hurt like hell when you left me here that time but I couldn't just get over you. I, I had to wear this ring, tell people I'm married, that my husband is somewhere else because I couldn't stop loving you," she paused, looking up at him, "In my fantasies, we're together because I couldn't love anyone else. What else am I supposed to do? I love you so much I don't know what to do. So, just tell me, Sasuke, tell me what to do to let you go!"

She then stood up, swiping at her tears resolutely. "Fine. I'll just, I'll just leave and, and forget about you, about all this," she finished weakly, reaching for the door. She was so damn tired of crying, of hurting, of her tears never amounting to anything.

In just one step, Sasuke was hugging her tightly from behind. God, he couldn't believe how he had managed to hurt this woman who had done nothing but to love him more than he would know and could ever deserve. He couldn't imagine what kind of life she had led when he turned her away. He wouldn't be able to fathom the pain she had to live through for years because of his reckless decisions and actions. He would atone for her pain even if it'd take him forever.

"I'm so sorry," he said. He wished he could say some more to comfort her, but he meant it this time, and he would never let go again.

He then nuzzled her neck affectionately, breathing in the scent that he had missed tremendously. He turned her around and took his time placing gentle kisses on her forehead, her tear-stained eyes, and along the bridge of her nose before finally claiming her lips.

Sakura broke the kiss tentatively. It felt right to be in his arms again. She had finally dreamed this scene into reality, but she needed to make sure that this time it wouldn't be the last.

That they would last.

"Sasuke . . . I don't think I'd be able to stand it . . . if you'd leave me again so please, if you're still not sure – "

He pressed his lips against hers. "I've been stupid, Sakura. But not this time. I won't let you go."

Sakura smiled before he leaned in again to capture her lips. Unlike their last kiss that was rough and charged with an irrational mix of anger and need, their union this time was slow and driven by soft caresses. Sasuke cradled the back of her head, titling it to have a better access to her mouth. Sakura did her part all the same, nipping at his lower lip, meeting the thrust of his tongue with the same fervor. She clutched at his shoulders as he lifted her up against him, carefully taking the steps towards the room they had once shared. He gently laid her down before pulling for a breath's distance. He ran his thumb along her lower lip, and Sakura slightly opened her mouth to kiss his finger, looking at him with glazed eyes, pleading.

"I missed you, Sasuke-kun," she rasped.

Hearing her say his name so endearingly brought him back down, crashing his lips over hers once more as she stroke her sides. He then began to lick his way down languidly, taking his time to explore every inch of her skin, every crevice of the body of this woman he treasured so dearly. Sakura moaned a sweet gasp when he sucked on her pulse, laving it with his tongue after. She became rather impatient that there were still barriers between them so she tugged at his shirt roughly, wanting to tear it off his body if only she could. Sasuke, in response, grabbed her insistent wrists before tracing his way back to her lips.

"Let me take care of you, Sakura," he said huskily.

He then felt for the hem of her blouse, riding it up until his hand was touching her bare stomach. He slid down to pepper it with his kisses, loving how she was easily now making those punctuated mewls of pleasure. But Sakura would have none of this. She threaded her fingers through his hair, gripping it slightly to still his actions. She then sat up, grabbing him by his nape before she slanted her lips on him.

"Please. Don't make me wait for too long."

He kissed the corner of her mouth, smiling. "I want to savor each moment, Sakura."

"We can always do that later. I need you now . . ." She blushed a furious red with her bold invitation, but she held his gaze.

He could only smirk as he tasted her lips for one last time before helping her pull up her blouse. He pushed her gently back down as he resumed kissing her neck before paying attention to the tops of her breasts still held by the feminine garment. His hand then snaked down in search for her warmth, finding its way underneath her skirt, and cupping the delicious heat radiating from her center. Sakura whimpered when he started to stroke her there at the same time that he had showered attention to the little peaks of pleasure on her breasts through the fabric. Soon enough, her wet entrance happily welcomed his probing finger, and she was crying out in release.

She then reached for his lips once more and started unbuttoning his shirt as he unbuckled his belt. They freed each other's body from the offending pieces of clothing posthaste, and Sasuke was back licking the valley between her breasts before focusing on one pert nipple. Sakura, her body charged with pent-up desire and need, grounded her hips against his, making him let out a growl, stopping him from his ministrations. She needed to feel him now. To make a point, she hooked a leg around his torso so that he'd be forced to finally meet her where she needed him the most.

Sasuke recognized her growing impatience and plunged his tongue into her parted mouth at the same time that he drove home. Sakura peeled her lips away to let out a moan. Sasuke surged on as he continued his assault on her lips and neck. It felt incredible to have the length of her body writhing underneath him, and this time, he knew it wasn't because of some form of repayment but of something eternal.

To add to her pleasure, he would sometimes keep the pace maddeningly slow only to bury himself again to the hilt. She was now panting, clutching tightly at the base of his neck, giving him sloppy kisses all over as she felt him pulsing within her, stretching her out, repeatedly hitting her sweet spot. Their union had never been this powerful before. And she knew what had made the difference.

"I love you," she panted, holding him fast against her. Sasuke, in turn, grazed his teeth against her earlobe, whispering back with the same frenzied intensity, "I love you more." As if to prove it, he slid down his hand to where they were connected and caressed her bundle of nerves.

Just like that, she clenched down on him hard, screaming out his name in an overwhelming bliss as he adjusted the angle and thrust a few more times before he also gritted out his own release.

Sasuke stayed within her for a few more heartbeats before relishing the warmth and lying beside her. Sakura immediately scrambled up to his chest, wrapping her arm around his torso as she feathered kisses just below his collarbone. When he brought up her face to kiss her, he was met with the sight of her looming tears, alarming him.

For one brief second, fear entered his mind. What if she regretted everything?

Sakura noticed the distress on his face so she helped herself up and quickly placed a reassuring kiss on his lips to which he responded instantly.

She then reluctantly let go, her fingers resting on his cheek.

"You were also crying that time," he stated worriedly as he reminisced the night of their fallout.

"You don't need to worry. Just that . . . before, I thought we will never be. It hurts, you know. I didn't want you to be just here on this bed beside me. I want you," she sought for his hand, "here," she said as she rested his palm on her chest. "Have always. And I thought you didn't want me that way."

Sasuke then flipped them over. "I've always wanted you since the first time I saw you in the shop. It was plain torture, Sakura," he said roughly, brushing away some wisps of hair from her face.

Hearing him say that had filled her with such happiness that no amount of physical contact could ever give. However, she wouldn't want it any other way. She had no complaints about receiving satisfaction in any form as long as it was from Sasuke.

She chuckled at him coyly. "The torture ends now, Sasuke-kun." With that, she pushed up her pelvis against his, launching them into another round of lovemaking.

xxx

When Sakura woke up for the second time that morning, Sasuke was no longer there. But she had a rich smile on her face. Sasuke had told her a couple of hours ago that he just needed to sort things out in the office but that he'd be back soon to spend the day with her. Afterwards, he said, "I'll make sure to take my time later." She still could feel the tingling sensation that his declaration had caused. It also didn't help that her imagination had finally let loose and run wild.

She had spent a few minutes on shower before putting on one of Sasuke's shirts. She wanted to see his reaction once she welcomed him back with only that piece of clothing. But she would save it for their enjoyment later. For now, she had to borrow a pair of sweatpants.

She was looking for something to cook up in the fridge when the doorbell rang. That was quick, she thought as she hastily maneuvered her way to the door, ready to jump at Sasuke the moment it opened.

However, a different face came into view.

"I knew it!" the blonde-haired girl shrilled before hugging Sakura.

Sakura was at a loss for words even when the other girl had already begun to chatter away.

"I'm so so glad that you're here now, Saku-chan! By the way, you can tell Sasuke that I forgive him for ditching us on dinner last night. But tell him that next time, he must bring you along and – "

Sasuke's ex-fiancée must have noticed her expression because she had stopped and gave her a concerned look.

"Honey, don't worry. He's not leaving you this time. I assure you."

Sakura shook her head slightly. She wasn't worried about that. She just didn't know how to handle a conversation with the woman she had mistakenly got jealous of in the past. That and the fact that she wasn't really properly dressed.

"I'm sorry," she started shyly, "Just that this is the first time we met and – "

Ino then grabbed her hand. "Wait, I have an idea! We'll do some catching up soon and celebrate our friendship but for now we have to go somewhere!"

Upon having been briefed on Ino's idea, Sakura politely begged her new friend that they drop by her apartment first so that she could change into something more appropriate. Ino just giggled and gave an amused 'yes,' but not without letting Sakura know that Sasuke would've loved to see her anyway especially in his shirt.

Her face was still beet red when they pulled over in front of the Uchiha Inc. Ino held her hand as they speedily went past all the company's personnel who were giving them strange looks. They made it safe to the elevator, but Sakura couldn't calm down her nerves. She knew what was going to happen and dreaded it. She was ready but –

"Sasuke will be with you," Ino smiled at her, giving her hand a comforting squeeze.

The elevator dinged, and it sounded like a toll of the bell to Sakura's ears, but she didn't have much time to ponder on it as they finally came to a halt in front of a mahogany door bearing the embossed golden letters that read "Director's Office."

Sakura wanted to gather her thoughts first, making a move to talk to Ino about it, but the latter had already twisted the knob open, dragging Sakura into the room.

Sasuke's eyes grew at the sight of the very girl that had become the subject of his argument with his father. He had come into the office to tell them about his plans of introducing to them the woman he loved, to which his mother delightfully reacted. However, when she came to know that it was Sakura, the woman from five years ago, she grew silent while his father voiced out his solid opposition to what Sasuke wanted.

Sasuke was happy to see her here, but he feared for her. He couldn't let his parents hurt her. She couldn't be put through so much pain again. He wanted to be able to protect her this time so that she wouldn't have to run away.

He then made a move to where she was.

"I'm Haruno Sakura," she began firmly as she stood unwaveringly under his father's scrutinizing gaze. "I know I'm not fit to be with your son but I will not let him go. I love him too much to do that so – "

She then felt his presence beside her, his hand caging hers. She had made her decision, and so was he. He would never let go.

"She's the woman I want to marry," he announced both to his parents and then to Sakura, bringing their clasped hands to his lips.

They smiled tenderly at each other, mutually hearing the unsaid.

We will fight together.

xxx


I feel compelled to add another chapter, but I don't want to make promises so I'll be tagging this as "Complete" for now and you can also think of it that way in case I don't ever get to write off another one.

To Rainbow Sparkles, I just graduated last month, too, and I finished a Literature degree. I can't speak of my other account so publicly, but if you can shoot me a message about it, then I'll tell you. I'm sorry. I hope you understand that I'm trying to separate my two writing personalities. This account is for my alter ego where I kinda let my id to rule over me a bit. My other account is for my endeavors as someone who wants to be a full-fledged writer in the future.

Please review for the last (?) time and support me in my future projects. I'm planning to work on a vampire!Sasuke fic. I've been dreaming about the plot since I was ten, and now I know that Sasuke would best suit my fantasies. I also want to write some InoSai!

P.S. I'm okay now. Thanks so much for all your kind words. See ya'll around!