A/N: Well, well, this is it… finally. I really don't know how to end a story like this. I am not sure if you'll like it, anyhow… please don't get mad at me for not updating quickly. Technical problems occurred with my software… and I don't have money to rent!
And oh, don't forget to review and read the VERY last part! Thanks!
"S-Sasuke… it's me!" he cried softly.
"Sorry," he mumbled, quite embarrassed.
"Sasuke! I'm glad to see you fine!" he exclaimed. Gaara turned serious once more. "Right. I have something to tell you."
"What's it?" Sasuke asked…
Gaara finished his narration only to find Sasuke speechless. The usual Sasuke he knew is the kind of person who gets aggravated easily, and is on the ready-to-kill mode. Finishing his personal thoughts, Gaara concluded that the person he is with right now is the new Sasuke. The news that he had heard from several people is so true, and he had proven it himself. It never crossed his mind that someday, when a man really loves, he could possibly change his attitude.
"Sasuke?" Gaara asked.
"It's nothing to do about everything now," Sasuke muttered. "Nothing."
Gaara was surprised, "Why?" he asked. "You can use it to break your engagement---"
"Gaara, I've decided. I'm really leaving for New York now, and there's no turning back." He patted his shoulder, and he left eventually. Gaara watched him go, and based on the tone of his voice, he knew there is something that happened before he told him.
"… Even so, I still won't be engaged to Ino."
"I. Will. Miss. YOU!" Keiko cried, clinging to Sakura. The girls are already at the airport. It is too early, but Sakura's mom insisted that they should go earlier.
"Ah, Keiko-chan, don't be over-dramatic!" Sakura beamed on her. "We could still write letters and stuff. I promise you that I will always get in-touch with you."
"Take care, Sakura-chan!" Hinata said. "If you can go here and visit us sometime, it would be very nice!"
"I really hope so, but it might not as well happen." She said sadly.
"Why not? Why not?" Naruto arrived, shouting that. He almost tripped because of running without looking at where he's walking. In his back is a seemingly large knapsack. "Whhhyyy nooot?"
Sakura suddenly laughed. "Hey,"
"What a comical entrance…" Gaara murmured. "Goodbye, Sakura. We'll all miss you!"
"That's my LINE! And what's that, a so-called diplomatic entrance?" Naruto sneered. "Better do something that will outclass me! Nyahahaha!"
He placed his hands on his hips.
Gaara simply sighed. "Dakedo, that was really funny." He muttered, smiling. At least you made Sakura laugh before…
"Where's Sasu---" Keiko suddenly stopped… "What I mean is… I mean, uh…"
She looked at Sakura.
Sakura shook her head. "Don't worry about me."
"That reminded me of something." Gaara said. "Yeah. Each of us decided to give you something before you go."
"Some sort of memorabilia from us." Naruto added.
Hinata and Keiko nodded. Sakura took a glance on her watch. "Maybe he's mad at me." She thought. "In a matter of minutes, we'll leave."
Sasuke was busy sitting by the window of his room. He's been like that ever since he talked differently to his father yesterday:
"Sasuke, Ino's here to see you." His father said as he was getting inside their mansion. "She's been here since a while ago. Why don't you two go out?"
"…" He didn't reply. Instead, he sat on one of the sofas beside Ino.
"Are you alright now?" Ino asked him concernedly. "How are you---"
"It's just the right time," Sasuke began, "to offer you this quite a long speech. I've been preparing for this."
"What are you talking about?"
"I want everyone to listen very, very carefully…" he said, dropping his voice into a whisper. He stood up, smirking.
"I, Uchiha Sasuke, an heir of the well-known and respected Uchiha family that does nothing but to get rich… decide to go to New York, to follow my brother, and to ESCAPE from being engaged to this girl beside me."
He pointed to Ino, who in turn, stood up as well with her fierce look and a mad growling aura.
"You can't do that!" Ino cried. "Stop it, Sasuke-kun! Are you not ashamed of what you are telling your father?"
"Yamete! I said listen!" he yelled childishly. "All this time, I undergo with your decisions, dad!"
"… To study there, to do this. To live here, to stay alone… until you told me to marry HER, and that's it! Enough of your decisions."
Ino cupped her mouth with her hand. She doesn't understand why he despised her since they were little.
"Sasuke, stop this now." His father said calmly, at the same time agitatedly.
"No, not until you do what you promised!" he said sternly. "You told me that if I decide to go to New York, this engagement WILL be stopped."
"Sasuke-kun!" Ino cried, kneeling in front of Sasuke. "Please, stop it!"
He looked down at her, shaking his head.
"You know what, that's not enough for everything you did." He glared at her.
Ino was shocked. He already knew something. She stood up quickly, eating up all the humiliation she's gone through that night. She hurriedly ran to her car waiting outside.
Going back to Sasuke, his father came closer to him.
"Why… you---" he was about to hit him when Sasuke spoke up,
"Hit me! I was right at the beginning and at the bottom of this." He murmured loud enough for his father to hear.
"… Well sorry, your son do not wishes to be tied to a girl who does nothing but to think of herself." He remained in his composed state.
With that, his father left. "Go if you want to. But don't you ever blame me if you regret this."
/End of Flashback/
"I will not regret this. I really will not." Sasuke said to himself. He looked at the grandfather clock located in the rear corner of his room. It's already 8:30.
"Sakura's leaving at 9. Aren't you going with me?" Gaara asked.
"Maybe it's better if she won't see me."
"She'd find you!"
"Gaara, please just give this to her." He gave Gaara a red box. "Tell her that belongs to her. Only to her."
"Since the girls had given their presents, I think it's time for me and Gaara to hand you ours!" Naruto exclaimed.
"What's your gift, Naruto-kun?" Hinata asked curiously.
"Ta daaan! This is the Ultimate SASUKE Picture Collection!" he showed them a large photo album. Surely, it has Sasuke's greatest pictures during a basketball game. Being the L.E.N.S. photographer, he sure has all of this.
I didn't know it would hurt me so much… she thought. Suddenly, her tears began to fall.
"Sakura?" they all hurriedly asked.
"Hey! Look at what that thing caused her!" Keiko almost wrung his neck.
"Sakura-chan, are you alright?" Hinata asked.
"I--- like… This! Thanks a lot, Naruto-kun!" she suddenly smiled.
Naruto was relieved. "You're utmost welcome!"
"How about Gaara?" he asked, turning to Gaara.
Gaara smiled. "Since it has something to do with Sasuke, I also have a version of Naruto's."
"Cheater!" Naruto cried. "I'm the original here!"
"I didn't know that you're creating that one too!" Gaara insisted.
He cleared his throat. "Anyway, folks… here's my Chibi SASUKE collection!"
This time, Gaara showed them a smaller photo album. As Sakura herself turned the pages of it, she saw Sasuke's different picture when he was a kid. Some were his pictures with Gaara, his class pictures…
"Gosh! Look at his hair here!" Sakura suddenly burst into laughing.
"And ooh… is this really him?" she muttered. "He's so kawaii!"
"I'm glad you also liked it." Gaara said. "It was a sure hassle to get everything… Sasuke nearly choke me to death while I was trying to ask for some of them!"
Sakura sighed, "Typical…" she murmured. "Guys, thanks for everything. Thanks for helping me out, for having you all here… I hope you won't forget me."
"Why will we?" Hinata and Keiko chorused.
"Ah, I do not want to disturb your last time together… but... it's nearly time for us to go." Sakura's father arrived.
"Ohh…" they all sighed.
"Sorry if I was a bit dramatic… but…" she suddenly cried. "I will truly miss you!"
"Good luck." Gaara said. "That would be my final message… and oh, before I forget…"
He took something from his pocket.
"… My best friend wanted to give this to you, but I think he's a bit shy right now…" he continued, "and he told me that this thing only belongs to you. Don't you dare return it… he'll get mad… at me!"
Sakura stopped for a while. She held the small red box in her hand tightly, bringing it closer to her chest.
"I'll treasure this forever…" she thought. "Sasuke-kun… in the end, you still want me to keep this. How irresponsible of you!"
"Let's go now, Sakura." Her mom said. She glanced at her friends and smiled. "Thanks for everything!"
Hinata and Keiko smiled back. "Have a nice trip!"
"Bye Sakuraaa!" Naruto cried.
"Till we meet again," she said softly, waving her hand. She pulled her trolley luggage bag and walked behind her parents. Deep inside her, she's hurting a lot.
Why did you hide from me? She thought.
As they ride the escalator, Sasuke suddenly arrived. He was panting and he stopped running as soon as he saw her pink hair fading from his sight. He sought after her, but he knew he went out late. He cursed himself, and he was to go away when…
"Sasuke-kun!" (THAT was so quick!)
"Sakura!" he exclaimed, still confused. "Why… you were in the…"
"Baka, I rode the other escalator." She pointed to the other one. "You think I'm gonna leave and let you go this time?"
"What do you mean? You're not leaving?" Sasuke asked eagerly.
"What's this?" she demanded, showing him the red box. "Why are you giving this back?"
"It's yours. I said it. Were you deaf the time I said it?" he teased.
"Of course not!" she was now blushing. "What I mean to say is… I---"
"I love you." He interrupted what she's going to say.
"I know, I know…" she smiled. "I just want to tell you that you're the most irresponsible person I know, and we might not see each other… anymore…"
"Thanks for the compliment… Ms. Tough Girl from Osaka." Sasuke said. "But I have a strong feeling that this is not yet goodbye for us. The world is too small for you to escape from me…" he smirked.
She shook her head. "I'll keep this." She said. "Bye!"
Then he drew her closer to him, giving her a warm embrace. He gently kissed her, and the next thing Sakura knew was she's kissing her back--- in PUBLIC!
They stopped, and the red tint at their faces is noticeable. Luckily, they were unnoticed.
"I do not know if I'm still going back to Japan…" Sasuke began to say.
Sakura let out a stifled gasp. "You're… leaving too?" she asked. "But why do---"
He stopped her talking. "Long story. You should go now." He pointed to Sakura's parents.
Sakura's mom is calling for her already. Sakura gazed at his onyx black eyes one last time.
"I love you too…" she muttered. Then she freed herself from his grasp. Then she hurried to the escalator once more, trying not to cry.
"Keep your promise!" Sasuke yelled, looking towards her direction.
"HAI!" Sakura answered aloud.
I am going to leave this place happy. I am so glad to see you for the last time. Someday, I will be returning to Tokyo. And if you think, it's not yet our last chance to see each other… I just hope you're right…
Sakura wore her best smile as she rode the plane. Minutes after, it took off. Sasuke looked at the sky, wishing he'd see her again…
"Man! Why do you have to leave too?" Naruto cried. "I know you scared me… you've bullied the school, but… what about the victory party? The rest will be waiting for the MVP!"
"Well, the flight cannot be cancelled." Gaara muttered.
"Yeah. I wanted to stay, but…" he began, "I couldn't cancel the flight. They're waiting for me too…"
"Anyway, before that… could I interview you?" Naruto asked.
"Sure thing…" he smiled.
"How about me?" Sir Kakashi asked, afterwards he chuckled. "You've forgotten about the coach, Mr. Reporter!"
"But sir, he's going to leave. We might not have the chance to do it." Gaara explained.
"Whatever…" Sir Kakashi muttered. "I'm just glad you stayed until the Winter Tournament was finished. Moreover, you're awarded MVP. Isn't that nice, Sasuke?"
"It's not just about me staying, but because of our teamwork." Sasuke replied.
"Right," Shikamaru agreed, entering the scene.
"Okay, okay… I know you all wanted to be featured on the paper…" Naruto began teasing them, "but please, leave us alone first!"
"What did you say?" the basketball boys and their respective coach yelled.
"Take it easy!" Gaara whined, stabilizing their rising anger. "He's just joking!"
It has been months since Sakura's departure. She's exchanging letters and sometimes phone calls with Hinata and Keiko a month after they arrived back at Osaka. While Sasuke stayed until January because of the finals for the Winter Tournament. Their team won the championship, and today, they're having a victory party. And it's almost time for Sasuke's departure for New York. Accordingly, his engagement with Ino was broken. After that, Sasuke vowed to his father that he'd never ask anything from him.
"Young master, it's time to go." Kouji reminded him. "It's already 5, the plane won't wait for you."
"Why don't you just ride your family plane?" Naruto asked.
"I don't want to. Besides, it's about time for me to be free from dad, right?" Sasuke replied. "If I ride the family plane, it looks like I still depend on him. If not of my mom's request, I won't ride the car."
"What are you planning to do when you arrive there?" Gaara asked again.
"I'll study hard. I won't do the things I've done before." He said. "Bye."
"Bye! Don't forget to e-mail me!" Gaara said. "Have a nice trip!"
Sasuke nodded. "I will…"
And that's the last time Sasuke stayed at Japan…
Let's fast-forward the happenings…
"Wow, nothing has changed…"
A lady was walking along the streets of Tokyo. Her smile tells that she's missed the place so much together with her gleeful expression. It's been 3 years… and those years just seem to pass by slowly.
Several establishments remained there. The bookstore, the supermarket… and a familiar restaurant.
"It's still there…" she murmured, smiling. She looked at her watch, and she suddenly panicked.
"Oh no! I'm late!" she exclaimed, walking faster.
Not far from the place she's standing, a taxi stopped. A man came out of it, and he's wearing a composed look. He was silently walking on the same sidewalk, until this lady collided with him.
"Sorry!" she said automatically, and then continuing her brisk walking.
He stopped for a while, staring at her back. He noticed her short, pink hair… and he subsequently shook his head. He continued his walk.
"This is just great." He took something from his pocket. It's an invitation. "Why do I have to attend this lecture!"
He continued looking around the establishments, until he found the hotel where the lecture hosted by one of their company's associates will be held.
As soon as he entered the hotel, several men bowed down to greet him.
"It's a pleasure to have you here, Mr. Uchiha." a man greeted him. "Welcome back to Tokyo."
"Thank you." He answered, shaking hands with the man. "I'm sure my stay will be great."
The man led him to the elevators. "I will escort you to your room, sir. We picked the best suite just for you."
"You mustn't have done it. I can stay in a simple room, you know."
Then his cellphone rang.
"HEY, Sasuke! You must have told us you're coming!" the voice on the other line yelled.
"WHY make a loud noise?" he yelled back. The man in a coat looked at him eerily, and he shrugged. "Gaara, you've been a bit loud like Naruto…" he smiled. "You have changed!"
"Yeah, yeah," he mumbled. "Why and where are you staying at Japan?"
"At the hotel here at Shinjuku. It was my brother's brilliant idea to send me here, he said that this lecture will be like this, that… and---"
"I'm going to see you later, my friend." Gaara said and he hung up.
Sasuke was sweat dropped, "He does not want me to escape him!" he thought.
"Here's your room, sir."
"Thanks a lot," Sasuke said, taking the keys. After that, the man left.
"… Sir Itachi's younger brother is certainly different from him…" the man thought to himself…
The girl from a while ago stepped into a wide patio on the hotel. She scanned her surroundings, and she can't help but admire the place.
"Cool!" she exclaimed, smiling to herself.
Suddenly, someone patted her shoulder. She was surprised at first… but it's just…
"Ms. Haruno, where have you been?" a woman inquired. "We came here for the lecture, and isn't it that my students should meet here at 9 am sharp?"
"I'm sorry ma'am… it's been a while since I came back here, and naturally I wanted to---"
"Okay, okay… stop your long reasoning. We'll be waiting for it to start."
Sakura came to her classmates. She wasn't aware at first that her college class trip will take place at a mesmeric hotel at downtown Tokyo. As she looked at her happy classmates' faces, she soon realized that they were all busy chatting, and she felt left behind by their conversation. Sakura sighed to herself.
"I should have told Hinata or Keiko… but I'll be staying for few hours only" she thought to herself.
One of her classmates told them that the lecture's about to start. So the rest of them went to their respective seats.
"Good morning everyone, and welcome to…"
Sakura can hear in her mind the emcee was just blabbering. Blah, blah… blah… Bahh! She thought to herself. This is just getting boring. Let me find a way to get away for a while… I like their patio…
Suddenly, her facial expression turned weak and in pain. She faced one of her classmates, and immediately, that classmate of hers told their professor that Sakura needs to go to a… you know washroom. They were convinced on her true to life act.
"Yay!" she exclaimed to herself, walking slowly… away the lecture area.
Little did she know, she dropped something while hurrying to the patio…
Sasuke was taking his walk around the lecture area. He soon realized it's started already.
"What's the sense of all this blabbering anyway?" he thought, smirking. Sorry my brother, but you told me to go to the lecture, not to LISTEN to the speaker! He continued smirking, which end up into chuckling.
He passed by the exit which leads to the patio. He almost slipped when he accidentally stepped on something.
"Darn this thing!" he exclaimed, with one knee on the floor. He picked up the thing that was on his way, and he stared at that thing carefully.
"It's an ID card." He muttered. "I wonder who this stupid person---"
He stopped talking to himself, slowly standing up. His expression was unexplainable. He vehemently shook his head, gripping the ID in his hand. Then he looked at the direction of the door to the patio. It's opened. He made a conclusion that the one who owns the ID is there.
He ran as fast as he could. It's his chance! He didn't know it was worth going for!
Itachi, I surely should thank you!
Sakura enjoyed the view. It's great scenery, and the patio has a mini garden. She loves the sight of the flowers, and they are all pretty. Suddenly, memories flooded by her mind. It reminds her of the Uchiha mansion's garden…
After a while, she heard someone's footsteps and the closing of the door. She didn't mind it, and she continued her daydreaming in paradise as she stares at the garden of flowers.
And someone cleared his throat. That finally took her attention, at the same time, making her mad about that interruption. She sighed to herself before looking back.
"I suppose you dropped something," the voice said.
Sakura looked back, and she suddenly stopped. She could see the person in her two emerald eyes vividly. She could not say what she wanted to say, and her heart began to beat faster… and faster…
She shook her head. "No way!" she thought. "Daydreaming must've caused this… no, no…"
He walked closer to her, and handed her the ID. He smiled at her.
"You're still careless… Sakura…"
She gasped. It's not a dream after all! She came back to reality. "Sasu---"
He didn't give her any chance to speak, nor mention his name. He just brought her closer to him, in a warm embrace. Sakura's tears of joy began to flow freely on her blushing cheeks, and her smile was inevitable. After he let go of her, she began to say something.
"I thought you were at---" she began.
"It doesn't matter, as long as I found you once more." He suddenly interrupted her,
Sakura frowned. "I'm not yet done talking!" she cried.
"S-Sorry," Sasuke scratched the back of his head, "You mad at me?"
It took a while before she answered him, until Sakura placed her hands on her hips. She looked at the silent Uchiha. "Of course!"
His face looks confused, though he kept himself composed. "But why? Don't you… love me… anymore?" he asked slowly, with eagerness in his eyes.
Will this bring me a searing heartache? Sasuke thought. Then this trip is not worth it anymore. It's been 3 years. We're both in college. I can't blame her if she meets another person… another one worthy for her.
Sakura stared at her for a while. Suddenly, she was laughing.
"Haha! You're still the same, I know you'll end up that way!" she seems relieved in one-way or another.
"Sakura!" Sasuke tried to hide the blush building up on his face. "Why you…"
Sasuke hugged her fiercely, then deeply kissed her. And she kissed back with just as much vigor, more than she expected she could. And it was not with a heavy heart in either that the kiss ended.
"I'll never, ever let go of you…" Sasuke told her. "If I do that, I may be the silliest person in the whole wide universe, and speaking of the whole universe… I'll look for you at the depths of time and space… so don't go away from me now that we finally see each other!."
Sakura smiled at her profoundly. "Is that you? Now, now, you're exaggerating!" she clings to his arms.
"Do you think if we haven't met each other in high school, will we meet somewhere?" she continued.
"I guess we might have." Sasuke answered. "Besides, it is fate which led us both here to meet each other again."
"Right," Sakura agreed. "So I'll never go far away from you then," she whispered to him…
…True to Sasuke's words, the world is too small for them not to meet again. Anything could happen, and anyone can meet someone…
A/N: (One last time)
At last, it's done! I'm so happy!
I would like to thank everyone who read this up to the last point. But before that, I owe everything to Naruto's creator, Masashi Kishimoto. Of course, I won't forget ABS-CBN for airing Naruto on local TV… ONCE MORE!
(Finally SEASON 3!)
What could possibly happen in the characters in the next 5 years? Will Naruto be a Photojournalist? How about Hinata? Keiko? Will Gaara be a Field Reporter? How about Sakura and Sasuke after they met once more in Tokyo
I intentionally left those as big question marks.
Anyway… I am planning to make a special fiction for this. It's a Naruto-Hinata pairing entitled "A Picture Paints a Thousand Words". It will be made to explain HOW Naruto and Hinata became lovers in Once Upon a September (a NaruHina fan asked me why… because it wasn't elaborated in Once Upon a September!).
I'll only create it if… you want it. Tell me through a review.