Walking Away

By K-chan

AN: Wee.. I heard this song and I so thought of Sasuke and Sakura… I love the pairing…but I also love LeeSaku.. wahh!  So this is what happens when I combine the two XD  Angsty… but good I think…  There are also hints of other pairings, like ShikaIno and KibaHina ^^ 

The song is "I will always love you" by Whitney Huston

In this ficcy they stay part of their gennin teams even when they are jounins…so yeah, just ignore that ^^'  R+R no flames please =)

A person is supposed to be happy on their wedding day aren't they?  Not to say that she wasn't happy, she truly did love the man she was marrying.  She loved her fiancé, but in a different way.  He wasn't him

Uchiha Sasuke.

No, Rock Lee wasn't Uchiha Sasuke, but he loved her, worshipped her even, and one day she would learn to love him as much and in the same way he loved her.  In truth, Lee deserved someone that would give him the same unconditional devotion he showered on her, but like her with Sasuke, he was hopelessly in love and couldn't let it go.

It was a never-ending circle of unrequited love. 

If I should stay

I would only be in your way

So I'll go

But I know

I'll think of you every step of the way

Saying goodbye to Sasuke-kun was the hardest thing Sakura had ever had to do.  They had long since become jounin, a feat that she could directly associate to having two of the strongest leaf chuunin on her team.  Sakura knew that with out Sasuke and Naruto on her team, or even having Kakashi as a teacher, she wouldn't have made it so far.  She probably wouldn't even have made Chuunin.  But that was neither here no there.

The day finally came when Sakura realized that Sasuke would never love her…never fulfill her true dream and marry her.  It was late fall and Kakashi's team seven was on a routine B-rank mission.  They had just completed it and were on their way home when she pulled her routine "Wanna go on a date when we get home Sasuke-kun?"  It was more out of habit than actual want.  For the past year before she had begun to realize just how hopeless her cause was.  However, she still held one small shred of hope that one day he would surprise her and say yes.

But that day was exactly the same.  He answered with a surly "No thanks." And shoved his hands into his pockets, going back to ignoring her.  It was in that instant that she realized it was pointless.

That moment brought many realizations to Sakura, the least of which being that Sasuke would never love her.  She also understood then that his dream had to come true, and that if she continued to follow him, to love him, she would only be in the way.  Sasuke couldn't complete his revenge and avenge his family if he had a girl tagging along.  She was in the way, and that realization hurt.  She never wanted to be a burden.

Sakura decided from that day on should would take the path Ino had taken three years before.  Let him go.  Ino had always been a bit sharper when it came to real life issues such as love than Sakura was and so figured it out first.  She also figured out that she had another man that would take care of her, love her in ways it was clear Sasuke was not.  She married Shikamaru three weeks after she turned eighteen, only a year after becoming a jounin.

It took Sakura three extra years to figure out what Ino did.  Even though the blond girl didn't realize what it was Sasuke had to do that was more important, she recognized his need to be alone all the same.  Sakura was different.  She was stubborn and refused to give it up.  In her mind, everyone needed someone, and Sasuke needed her.  Of course, that was proved wrong.

As soon as they returned Sakura disappeared from the three men's side, ignoring Naruto's whines and Kakashi's curious looks.  Sasuke didn't even turn his head, and it was the straw that broke the camels back.  She fled to her room and cried for three days straight.

She refused to answer when Naruto and Kakashi came around to inquire about her whereabouts.  Both men became worried, and word spread through out the village that Haruno Sakura was sick.  Once word reached the ears of Rock Lee, who was now an instructor of taijutsu at the academy, he rushed to her home in a panic.

Sakura fell into his arms upon letting him in.  He promised to help her heal, and she accepted, not knowing what else to do.  The two went slow, but a year later, after switching teams to fill the third slot on Gai's team, she agreed to marry her long time admirer.

A decision that both broke and healed her heart.

Bittersweet memories

That is all I'm taking with me

So good-bye

Please don't cry

We both know I'm not what you need

The day he learned Sakura had agreed to marry Rock Lee was the first time in his nineteen year life he cried.  Uchiha Sasuke actually cried.  It wasn't a sobbing cry as most would have cried, only a few stray tears, but for Sasuke it was a river.

At first, he couldn't believe she had actually given up loving him.  She had been his source of warmth for so long that he simply taken her for granted.  But looking back on the year since that certain mission –the last time she had asked him out- it started to make since.  She changed after they returned to the village.  The rumours said she had fallen ill.  But he found it offly strange that she began to 'get better' after Rock Lee had visited her.  Why didn't he visit her?

Truth be told he thought nothing of it.  He just took for granted that she would be healthy again soon and would be back to their team and on missions again.  She would be supporting him again.

He should have known something was up when she requested to transfer to Gai's team with Neji and Tenten.

But again he shook it off; maybe she was just tired of Naruto.  He hadn't matured much since the chuunin exam and could grow very taxing on ones nerves.  He was denser than people gave him credit for, especially when it came to the pink haired girl.

True he ignored her, shot her down and was even rude to her.  However, that didn't mean he didn't care.  Quite the opposite actually.  He loved her, more than anything he had ever loved in his life, but he never learned how to express it.  That, combined with the fact that he was afraid to hurt her, and that he didn't want her mixed up in his revenge, held him back from accepting the love he knew she felt for him.  She was better off with out him.  She needed someone with a stable mind.  Someone like Lee.

That didn't stop the fiery pain that engulfed his heart when he heard of her upcoming marriage, nor did it stop him from drowning his sorrows in many bottles of sake.  Kakashi found him passed out in an alleyway and thoroughly lectured him when he woke.  Even though the older man was technically their equal in rank, both Sasuke and Naruto looked up to him as an older brother figure.  Kakashi told him it was his own fault for waiting so long and that he should be happy Sakura wasn't suffering anymore.  He said that he should take the memories he had of her and move on, leave her to be happy.

Sasuke knew Kakashi was right, and so, the next day, with a level head he asked her to meet him in the park fountain at sunset.  Their conversation was the last memory of her he would have, and he would cherish it until the day he died.  It gave him strength.  Strength to be where he was now.

Watching her marry someone else.

I hope life treats you kind

And I hope you have all you've dreamed of

And I wish you joy and happiness

But above all this

I wish you love 

"Sasuke-kun?"

The quiet voice turned Sasuke's attention to the new arrival.  Because it was fairly late, around dinnertime, there was no one else in the park but him, and now her.

She was beautiful, standing in the soft golden glow of the setting sun.  It reflected in her pale green eyes and brought out certain highlights in her pink hair.  He felt his breath catch just looking at her.  To think…he was about to give her up for good.

"Aa," was his simple response as he once again turned away, sitting down on the lip of the fountain.

Sakura stood there awkwardly for a few moments, wondering what exactly he had called her out for.  He wasn't saying anything, just staring at his folded hands that were leaned between his knees.  "Sasuke-kun?"

"Sit."

She blinked for a few moments then did as he asked, sitting cautiously beside him, wringing her hands nervously.  What could he want?

"You're marrying Lee."

Blood rushed to Sakura's face and she hung her head.  So he had heard.  Why wouldn't have he?  The whole bloody village must have heard Lee's joyous shouts when she accepted.  "Yes." She replied softly, tears leaking out the corners of her eyes.

"Why?"

The question caught her off guard and she didn't know how to reply.  What did he want to hear?  As if hearing her thoughts he shook his head, reached over and took her soft hand in his callused one.  "No Sakura, not what I want to hear.  Tell me the truth.  Why are you marrying thick-brows?"

His eyes were as dark and serious as ever, but a sadness lingered in their ebony depths that she had never seen before.  He looked as if he were about to cry.  Her lips cracked a small smile at his use of Lee's old nickname.  "His name Lee, Sasuke-kun, not thick-brows."  She scolded softly, sniffling.

"Aa.  Tell me."

Sakura took a big breath in and let it out in one loud woosh.  Her heart twisted in pain, she didn't want to tell him she didn't love him anymore because it wasn't true.  But if she told him that she still loved him then she wasn't sure she could go through with marrying Lee, a man she also loved and admired, albeit in a different way.  "I…I…I love him Sasuke-kun."

"Do you?"  Sasuke didn't really want to press the issue, but he found himself doing so anyway.  Part of his mind really couldn't believe it and didn't want to let it go.

"Ye-yes."

His eyes drifted shut, a stabbing pain shooting through his chest.  His eyes burned with tears he refused to shed.  "And me?"

"I-I-I…" Sakura choked, her tears taking over.  "Don't make me say it…" She whispered, hanging her head once more.

"Please."

"I…" She buried her face in her hands.  Why was he making them go through it?  He knew that they could and would never be together, yet he prolonged the agony.  Was this why he called her out here?  To make her suffer more?  "You know how I feel about you Sasuke-kun."  She whispered finally, swallowing down the large lump that had grown in her throat.

Silence settled over the two, both lost in their thoughts.  Sasuke was surprised.  Surprised that she still loved him.  He put her through hell, yet she still loved him?  Why?  Life was cruel.

It was Sakura that broke the deafening silence.  She wanted to know how he felt, and if he was going to drag it out of her, she would do the same to him.  "Sasuke-kun.  I-I want to know…how you…feel.  Onegai?"  Her voice was faint and held none of the signature Sakura spunk Sasuke had come to know over the many years of being together.

She was met was silence as Sasuke searched himself for an answer.  He knew he owed her at least that much after years of torment.  However, words failed him.  He was never one for words, and this was no exception.  He couldn't find any words to describe just how deeply he felt for the girl that sat beside him.  So he did the only thing he had ever known.  He showed her.

Turning his body, he slid his hand around to cup her cheek and gently brought her face up and around to face his.  Slowly he leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers.  It was that moment that held the most happiness for Sasuke, and he promised himself that he would hold it close in his memory forever.

"Sa-Sakura-san??" 

Sakura froze in horror at hearing the exclamation a short distance away.  Oh god, her world was going to crumble around her…

Sasuke pulled away slightly, also hearing Lee's startled exclamation.  His eyes flickered towards the dark haired taijutsu master before coming back to rest on the face of the woman he loved.  It was time to give her up, make her happy, and take one more step towards his destiny. 

"Be happy, Sakura…-chan.  Be happy.  Goodbye."  He whispered against her lips.

He stood then, breaking contact with Sakura and began walking away.  He chose the path that would take him directly past the frozen Lee and paused as he passed him.  With out turning his head he said quietly, "Take care of her."  It was a threat and both men knew it.

Lee didn't comment, merely inclined his head towards Sasuke and continued forward towards his fiancé.

Sakura watched helplessly as Sasuke walked away, out of the park and out of her life.  It was the last time she would talk to him alone, of that she was sure.  Especially since Lee had seen them, and he became very possessive and protective of her when it came other men.

He even punched Neji for something small, even though the other man had a betrothed and was completely loyal to his friends and fiancé.

Collapsing against Lee's chest she continued to watch the broad back of her first love.  Goodbye Sasuke-kun… she thought, clutching at Lee's shirt.  Suddenly a thought occurred to her and she called out in a haste, attempting to step away from Lee, who merely clutched her around the waist.  "Sasuke-kun!!"

The dark man stopped in his journey and slowly turned until he was facing them. 

"You'll come won't you?"  She yelled over the distance, tears tracking down her face.

He simply raised a hand in acknowledgement before disappearing in a puff of smoke.  Sakura sagged in Lee's arms.  He didn't say anything…

"He'll come."  Lee whispered in her ear.  "In the honour of a shinobi, he will come."

And I...

Will always love you

I...

Will always love you  

Lee fidgeted nervously.  It was the biggest day of his life, and he couldn't be more nervous.  Today he would make the most beautiful woman in the world his wife.  Oh yes, he knew very well that she loved another man, but he knew that she loved him too.  Not in the way he wanted her to, but he could change that.  He had the rest of their lives to convince her to love him, and by god he was going to do it.

He still remembered the anger that washed over him the month before when he went to find his Sakura-san and found her in the park kissing another man.  And not just any man. 

Uchiha Sasuke.

He couldn't get angry at Sakura, not only because he just couldn't, but also because he had seen the instigator.  He knew then that despite the dark man's treatment of his angel, he loved her.  Lee had never felt such panic and utter terror.  After the anger came the fear.

If Sasuke loved her, then it was all over for him.

Lee knew that he couldn't compare to the dark haired Uchiha genius.  He was Sakura's first love, and still had an immense hold on her heart.  Even a year of slowly mending her heart could completely erase Sasuke's hold over her.  Though lord knows he tried. 

He had been so pissed when he found Sakura wilted, tear stained and overly skinny all those months ago.  And even more pissed when she spilled the whole thing to him.  How could Uchiha do that to such an angel?  Couldn't he see that she was delicate and deserved to be worshipped?

Neji told him that Uchiha more than likely loved her as much as she loved him, but for outside reasons couldn't act on it.  So, with his best friend's help, he searched through Sasuke's past.  He found out that Uchiha's sole goal in life was to kill that man, Uchiha Itachi, his own brother, and an S-class criminal.  It became clear to him why Sasuke refused to acknowledge his angel.  Lee whole heartedly agreed with him, and then did everything he could to keep her away from him.  It was him that suggested she join Gai-sensei's team. 

But all of that was in the past and today he would make Haruno Sakura his wife.  He was truly ecstatic, if not worried, anxious and very, very nervous.

"Lee!  Stop fidgeting already, you're making me nervous with your pacing!"  A deeper male voice snapped.

Lee stopped, a blush crossing his cheeks.  He turned to see his best friend sitting in a chair across the room glaring at him with his arms crossed over his chest.  "Aa… sorry Neji."  He apologized, bowing a bit.

Neji snorted, rolling his eyes.  "Grooms…" He muttered under his breath.

At this Lee grinned.  "Your day will come my friend!  Sooner than you think!"

"If I'm like you just kill me on spot."

Laughter echoed through the groom's waiting room.  Tenten smiled a bit as she cracked open the door and stuck her head in the room.  Her teammate, and former teammate, both glanced to the doorway, and once again Lee began to fidget.  "It's time boys."  She said, her eyes softening at Lee.  She was so happy for him.  "Ino-chan told me to tell you can meet Hokage-sama now."

Both men nodded, Neji standing and placing a hand on Lee's shoulder.  "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be."

I, I will always love

You....

You

Darling I love you

I'll always

I'll always

Love

You…

He watched in silence as the bridesmaids walked slowly down the small isle.  Tenten was first, then a very pregnant Hinata –Kiba apparently worked fast- and then Ino.  Naruto danced anxiously in the seat beside him.  The blond man had taken Sakura's engagement very well, dancing around and shouting, twirling her around.  He had apparently let go his silly childhood crush on the pink haired girl.  He said that he was too busy to get chained down like all the other men in their group.  Naruto had exclaimed quite firmly that if Sasuke was going to stay a bachelor, then so was he.  He has also sworn he would help him get his revenge.  The memory made Sasuke smile a bit.  Even though they were 'rivals', somewhere along the way they became friends…best friends to be exact.

The bride appeared then and the whole congregation –the whole village had shown up- gasped, Sasuke himself included.  She was…amazing.

Kakashi guided her proudly, finely decked out in his jounin uniform.  Sakura's father had died a few years before, and she had asked him to give her away in his place.  He was, after all, the closest thing he had to a father or older brother.  It was the only time anyone had ever seen Kakashi become truly emotional.  Tears welled in the older jounin's eyes as he accepted.  He even hugged her, proclaiming he would be proud to give away his 'little Sakura'.

As she passed him, she turned her head and her gaze caught his.  She smiled and mouthed a simple "Thank you" before moving on to her future husband.

The rest of the ceremony flew by for Sasuke.  He didn't really pay attention, but was just content to stare at Sakura and dream of what could have been.  At the end of it he stood, and as everyone rushed to give their congratulations he smiled softly and walked away, not even looking back.

Naruto caught up to him, but said nothing.  Instead the blond grabbed his arm and turned him enough so that they could look back at the happy couple, and the just starting party.  Sadness clouded both their eyes.  Sakura belonged to a different team now, and while she would always be a part of their youth and hearts, she had moved on.  Regret dwelled with in Sasuke, and pride with in Naruto.  Both men loved the woman beyond belief and both knew they had to leave her.

"So, we off to kill that man eh?"  Naruto exclaimed, slinging an arm around Sasuke's shoulder.

Sasuke shot his best friend a look and shook his head.  "Yes."

"Yo."

A puff of smoke and the simple greeting alerted the two men to their sensei's arrival and both looked up to see him squatting on the tree branch above them.  "Where do you think you're going with out your old sensei?"

Naruto grinned and jumped up, pumping his fist in the air.  They were going together!

Sakura smiled sadly, her eyes watching the three men walk away from her wedding.  Life was difficult and sometimes walking away was the only answer.