Title: Love Letters

Author: Sintari

Warnings: G, Sasuke/Sakura (kind of), angst

Archive: Scimitar Smile, I do not own Naruto.

Notes: Crits/comments are appreciated!

For incarus song on LJ

Naruto brought Sasuke back to Konoha on a Tuesday. He thought it was appropriate that they reentered through the village's lesser used East Gate. It was the way he had left, after all. When they reached the market, street hawkers broke off mid-spiel, children pointed, everyone stared. He found himself searching the crowd for her hair, but she was nowhere to be seen. When they passed the bench where he had left her – could it have possibly been ten years ago? – he half expected to see her lying there still.

He had already been exonerated by the time he saw her again. Runners were sent to each country with requests to blot him from their Bingo Books. He received a lecture from what he still thought of as the new Hokage. No, he could not be reinstated as a Konoha shinobi yet. It would take time to reestablish trust, she had said.

What did she expect him to know of trust?

He ran into Sakura just after he signed the lease on a new apartment. She was walking down Tailor Street with Yamanaka Ino. He stopped and stared at her just a beat too long. She must have felt it because she turned completely around. He did not think she meant to cover her mouth with her hand like that and he averted his eyes like he would from a private moment. He let her turn back around and even get a few steps down the street before he found his voice enough to call her name. She turned around again and he watched Ino wrap an arm around her shoulders and try to usher her away, but Sakura extricated herself and walked toward him.

By the time she reached him across the crowded street, she had composed her face into a friendly mask.

"Hello, Sasuke. Welcome back."

He had nodded, immediately falling into old habits. They stood there a moment - him counting cracks in the sidewalk, her smiling politely at a spot just over his left shoulder.

"Take a walk?" he had finally said. She had nodded and they had fallen into step together.

They had walked toward the East Gate in silence. As they approached the town's edge, Sakura had suddenly veered and steered them away from the site of their last goodbye.

"I never go that way anymore," she said and there was something hard in her voice. Something hard that hadn't been there before he left. "There's a bench over there I'm not particularly fond of."

He opened his mouth, but the words caught in his throat and slid back down to settle like a stone in his stomach. He heard Sakura sigh beside him. He couldn't look at her.

"What do you want, Sasuke?" She had stopped in the road, turned to face him. He finally took a good close look at her. Her hair was almost the same as when he left – perhaps a little longer around her face. Features that had been gangly on the girl suited the woman. She'd grown into her forehead.

His tongue was still paralyzed in this throat. When it became apparent that he was not going to answer, she continued on.

"Do you know how many times I dreamed about this day?" Despite the charged words her voice was hollow. "That you would come back? Take my hand and tell me you loved me? We would get married and revive your Clan. The first day we were teamed together, you said that was one of your goals. Do you remember? I do. I remember every word you ever said to me."

She laughed then. The sound left him cold.

"I even practiced what I would say to you when you came back. Though I do admit it changed somewhat over the years." A low sound in her throat. "And this isn't it."

She paused. Sasuke thought vaguely of stopping her, but let her go on. He owed her that.

"Naruto said you got your revenge. I'm happy for you, Sasuke. I hope it was everything you ever thought it would be. And now I have to go." She made it look easy, turning and walking away.

He imagined he had made it look easy, too.


She didn't turn around.

"I'm already late. I have a fitting. For my wedding dress. So you'll pardon me if I don't want to walk by the East Gate today."

He let her go.

Three events of note occurred in Konoha on the first Saturday in August, though only one person saw the connection between them.

Haruno Sakura was married to Rock Lee in an outdoor ceremony at the base of the Hokage mountain.

Uchiha Sasuke's landlord discovered that his tenant had paid out the remainder of his lease, leaving his key in the mailbox along with a note that read, "You can't go home again."

And an early-rising street sweeper reported that pranksters had struck on the road by the East Gate, leaving one of the public benches in rubble.

A Chuunin sent out to investigate surmised that the vandal had accomplished the job with exploding notes.

But to Uchiha Sasuke, as he had carefully pasted each one onto the concrete surface, they had been love letters.