Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine, which means Sakura is also not mine. ~sigh

Warning: None except this has no concrete plot, like at all xD. I don't have a beta-reader and English is also not my first language so my wording can be off.

Note: I love TobiSaku too much it's not good for my health.


ichigo ichie

once in a life time encounter

.

.

.

When he decided to go for a dip in the river that morning, Tobirama never expected there would be a woman to fall from the sky, splashing water all over him.

He has a kunai against her throat in an instant, because anyone who can sneak up on sensors of his caliber is a threat.

But this woman, wearing strange battered clothes with caked blood on her face, has no intention of fighting back. Her eyes – glazed and tired – are looking around frantically. The moment they finally focus on his face, they widen like she has just seen a ghost.

Then she screams.

.

.

.

He grabs on to her elbow tightly while making his way back to Konoha. She stays silent on their journey, her face void of any emotion.

When they reach their destination, the empty expression is still intact but something in her eyes shifts as she looks at the tall gate of his village.

She cries.

It's not a loud sobbing with runny nose, but two streaks of tears quietly drip down on her bruised cheeks. Her mouth opens yet no sound comes out.

This looks familiar, he thinks, the face of a person who realizes they just lost something precious to them. Like Hashirama's face – his face – when they received news of Kawarama's and Itama's deaths.

The hold on her elbow slackens – however slight.

.

.

.

It doesn't come as a surprise when his brother welcomes her into the village with open arms. By now he has been accustomed to Hashirama's irresponsibility and would rather get on cleaning the mess than waste time to scold his brother. So he takes it upon himself to keep an eye on this suspicious kunoichi, whose name is Haruno Sakura.

She didn't lie during interrogation – he could tell by her chakra – but her answers held no substance. Inhabitant of a village so far away that she lost her way back; separated from her family in one of the countless wars; learnt jutsu from a master whom she hasn't seen for some time; all generic things that can happen to anyone in this era.

Not to mention her strange behavior when he showed her around the village. There were moments she seemed interested in going on her own, as if she knew the way here like the back of her hand. And she would look at corners with distress as though something was supposed to be there but wasn't.

All the while her eyes never lost the longing in them.

.

.

.

Six months into her stay at Konoha and only her magnificent skills as a medic and a fighter are worth reporting about. Hashirama is ecstatic, saying that she is godsend – which is probably not far from the truth, considering how they first met. But ever the cynical, Tobirama has a hard time believing her claim that she is a shinobi.

He had seen her kill; quick, clean-cut, straight to the vital points, no hesitation. Those are movements of someone who is well-versed in the art of killing. Like him.

He would never bury the bodies when he could, though.

"They are enemy." he hisses.

"In another time, another life," she always whispers as she gently closes the eyes of the fallen, "we could have been friends."

Unlike him, inside this blood-stained kunoichi of a vessel, a kind soul is still breathing.

.

.

.

Being Sakura's supervisor means being close to her and being close to her has its side effects.

He notices too much.

When she doesn't do anything suspicious, his mind wanders to: the soothing chakra washing over his wounds; the comfortable silence they sometimes fall into; the soft rhythm of her laughter; the scent of something vaguely sweet; the halo her petal-colored hair turns into when it catches the light; the apple green of her eyes twinkling in moments of happiness.

He looks away while he still can.

.

.

.

It's 'Hokage-sama' for his brother when they're in public and 'Hashirama-san' when they're safe from people's eyes.

But to her he forever remains as 'Tobirama-sama'. She may joke to him, tease him, or engage in light-hearted banters with him, but she always keeps a respectful distance between them. They can walk side by side but not once do their arms as much as brush against each other.

She shows no such inhibit for anyone else. The barrier she builds is only reserved for him.

He smiles – with a twisted satisfaction – he isn't the only one who is afraid that there might be no turning back once the line is crossed.

.

.

.

In her search for a way home – it's her duty, she says – scrolls about space and time jutsu are often present.

"Is your village that far away?" he questions.

"I wish it was just far away." is her cryptic answer.

Every now and then, he mulls over her home village. She doesn't talk of it except for commenting how it is much alike to Konoha.

("Why don't you stay here then?" Part of him wants to ask.

But Tobirama's pride keeps his mouth shut.)

He wonders if her home is also hidden among the evergreen forest and has crystal clear rivers flow by; if there is someone waiting for her to come back, maybe her father and mother and friends.

Or, perhaps, a lover.

He knows then that he is already in too deep.

.

.

.

Sakura's temper seldom flares at him. The most he had witnessed was a frown when he proposed his rules for shinobi.

But now, she looks like she is physically restraining herself from lashing out – her nails dig so deep in her crossing arms – as she listens to his plan for the Uchiha.

And the look in her eyes – could disappointment be that cutting?

.

.

.

"Do you love Madara?" he asks after catching her staring not-so-discreetly at the cursed Uchiha for the thousandth time and remembering her strange fixation on his equally cursed clan.

"W-what?" she spluttered, face mortified. "Of course not! It's just that," she glances at the man again, her voice soft, "he resembles someone I know."

He doubts it. Every time she looks at Madara, her eyes darken at first – from anger or sadness he isn't sure. But without fail, they will soften with her lips curving up gently.

You don't do that for someone you just know.

He is certain, because that's probably how he looks at her too.

.

.

.

She rarely tells him about her precious people back home, but once in a blue moon the nostalgia is too much and she shares tidbits of her past and future.

(He is only her present.)

Her shishou has a penchant for sake and gamble; Naruto likes unhealthy food; Ino loves flowers; Kakashi-sensei is a pervert; and complete silence after she so much as murmurs 'Sasuke-kun'.

Now he knows the look she had directed at Madara was for whom.

He doesn't pry about 'Sasuke-kun'. He isn't sure whether it's because of the pain etched in her green eyes or because he can't stand the irrational pain bubbling inside him each time that name is mentioned.

.

.

.

Sakura, he muses, is so in tune with the elemental powers that she possesses.

Like earth, she is: nurturing, strong, stable, and unwavering in spite of anything thrown in her way.

(Her invisible wall is sturdy and so is her decision to leave.)

Like water, she is: calm as an undisturbed lake and passionate as a raging tsunami.

(Both can drown you.)

.

.

.

"Are you in love with her?" Hashirama asks him one day.

He doesn't think he loves her. His heartbeat doesn't race when she's near like his older brother suggests. That fast pumping of the heart is saved for the battlefield, where one little mistake makes you cross the border between life and death. No, his heart doesn't flutter whenever she's around. It is calm. It is serene. He hasn't known that kind of peace ever since he opened his eyes to this godforsaken world.

He doesn't think he loves her. It's just that her ginger syrup is so spicy but it warms him to his very toes in cold days. She also makes the best fish dishes; they're always cooked to his liking and he always asks for seconds.

He doesn't think he loves her. He enjoys doing silly little things with her; catching fireflies by the river bank in summer nights; lying on the sea of red and yellow leaves to watch autumn clouds lazily float by; waging winter war by throwing snowballs at each other with abandon; and sipping cups of sake at hanami when spring comes back.

He doesn't think he loves her. Sometimes he unwillingly thinks of her. Sometimes irritatingly. Sometimes fondly. And sometimes, he just thinks of her.

He doesn't think he loves her. That one simple word is not enough to describe the feeling that has made a home in his heart.

.

.

.

On the day that golden stripes of sunlight filter through the sheet of rain, they sit next to each other on the porch outside Tobirama's room – a distance between them as always – looking at his garden when Sakura tells him she is going to leave soon.

"Maybe in a few days," she adds.

"I see." he replies.

No one utters a word after that – what is there to say after all – they are lost in their own thought.

In another time, another life…

She had told him that on more than one occasion. Was she talking to him or to herself he doesn't know.

From time to time, he does entertain himself with different versions of reality.

There is a life in which he is a scholar and she is his annoying partner, who loves to debate with him on everything under the sun.

There is a life in which they live in a peaceful world, spending every day on mundane things that never fail to put a smile on their faces.

There is also a life in which he is simply 'Tobirama' to her and she stays.

However, his favorite must be a life in which she appears out of nowhere and effortlessly worms her way into his heart. Sakura, small in frame and big in heart. Sakura, stubborn and emotional yet devoted to what she should do and not what she wants to do. Sakura, persistently puts an invisible distance to separate duty and desire, her and him.

But, he thinks, that gap only belongs to them and no one else can come in between.

Except for Tobirama and Sakura.

His favorite is a life in which he crosses their boundary – stepping into that intimate space – to lace his fingers with hers, when her eyes reminds him of the first time she saw Konoha and it's sad but it makes him smile.

His favorite is a life in which she doesn't retract her hand and their fingers tightly intertwine and together, they watch the sunshower amidst soft pitter-patter sounds of heaven cry.


TobiSaku has been my OTP in Naruto for several years; it's a feat considering how fickle I am (lol, SasoSaku only lasted a few months). I'm sad that there is only a handful of fics about them so this is basically my attempt to contribute something to the fandom - however small it is. I hope you enjoy my little fic :).

Anyways, read and review pretty please :3. And fave it if you can xD.