Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. There's no way I'm making money from this and absolutely no way I'm affiliated with the creative process of this series.

He Said Thank You

She's scared. She can't deny it any more, tears streaming down both cheeks. Late at night, clouds drifting through the sky and blocking the moonlight in chunks.

The tears mingle with her memories and what she sees in the future, and Sakura's no longer sure what it is she's afraid of. She's not afraid of him, or at least, not now. But she's scared of what Sasuke has been. What he was in the second Chuunin exam.

Is she afraid of his desire for power? She doesn't think so, but she is terrified of the man who made the offer, the man who yanked Sasuke from the path with her and Kakashi and Naruto on it.

Sakura's scared of being alone. Afraid that Sasuke really will take her along with him. Terrified that he'll want her to help kill his brother.

Sakura said she'd scream, and she means it. But he's disappeared from her sight and she is so surprised when he materializes behind her that she hesitates. Then she draws in a breath to raise a cry of alarm that will bring people running. People who can stop Sasuke from leaving.

Her lungs are full, her lips are parted, she's ready to shriek.


Three syllables.

She knows what she's scared of now, what has been causing her to cry.

He pauses to take a breath, to speak. Sakura's lungs freeze, her mind so focused on his soft voice—praying that the words she fears won't be said—that she can't even think of raising a cry.

"Thank you."

The trapped oxygen in her lungs escapes in a soft stream. She's about to speak, about to turn, to see those dark, bitter, haunted eyes, but the blow to the base of her skull comes too quickly for her to do anything except think his name.

Sasuke catches her as she falls and moves her gently to the bench on the side of the path. The rise and fall of her chest says she's alive. The tears say much more. He lingers a moment.

Sasuke disappears into the darkness.

Sakura will be worried tomorrow. She'll beg Naruto to bring him back. She'll be terrified for them, for their safety. Their paths have split this night, perhaps never to meet again, perhaps to end in death, perhaps to reunite.

But her biggest fear has left with consciousness. He has thanked her.

For what, Sakura will not be sure. For waiting on the path, knowing he would use that road? For crying for him? For admitting her love? For offering to help with his plans for revenge? For not screaming when she had the chance? For being easy to subdue?

She will remember his last words when she wakes.

She will remember that he valued her enough to show his gratitude.

Sakura. Thank you.

She won't be able to tell him that he's welcome.

-Author's Notes

This idea has been annoying me for the last several days, so I decided to write it down and get it out of my head so I could focus on school work and my AU Naruto series instead. Perhaps now I can get some peace. Much gratitude to Gira for betaing it for me—all remaining mistakes are my own.

Comments, constructive criticism, etc., are welcome and wanted.