Note: This is a what-if story. In here, Sasuke did not go after the Sound-nins, or if he did, he was promptly retrieved by back Naruto. Either way, he did not go join Snake-dude with black eye-liner. This Sasuke probably wish he did though.

WARNING: I wrote this while on acid!

Actually... No. No, the author wasn't on acid when she wrote this, which is quite disappointing as it would have explained quite a few things: Like the existence of this story. However, if you did not think the author was insane after you read this... here's a cookie!


Anniversary

by Blue Jeans

"What are you doing here?" His voice betrayed him. Even though she didn't turn, she knew he didn't look the least bit disturbed, which he was. She knew he also didn't look angry, though he was furious.

She was not in the habit of infuriating him. In fact, she had spent her whole life trying to please him. She left her hair long because through the grape-vine she had heard somebody say that Uchiha Sasuke liked girls with long hair. She became a shinobi, because that would bring her closer to him. She learned to regard Yamanaka Ino as a rival, though once she had admired and loved the other girl very much.

No, Haruno Sakura had never done this before. She had never deliberately gone out of her way to anger him. She had never wanted his hatred or anger aimed at her, because his cool indifference to her hurt her more than enough on a daily basis. Up to now, Sakura had never even imagined herself being able to handle his anger, much less handle it without a twitch on her face or the blink of an eye. Up to now, she never would have thought herself to have had the courage to defy him or do any of the things she was about to do, that she had planned to do.

Sakura had spent her whole life admiring him. It was all she had known. She had spent her whole life chasing after him, partially because she liked him and he made her feel things she never dreamed anyone could make her feel. And partially because it was how it had happened and she had never questioned it. Even Ino, her most admired friend, proclaimed a love for Sasuke. How could she imagine not loving him? How could anyone?

Until now.

Until today, she had never realized she did not love Sasuke at all. How could she have loved him? As a teammate, it was understandable that she would come to rely on him, to like him and support him. Until today though, she had never loved Sasuke. Not Uchiha Sasuke, the boy. She had loved Sasuke, the Sasuke she had seen from the outside; the Sasuke with the brooding expression and dark eyes. The Sasuke that sighing and admiring girls had painted before her eyes and that she had detailed with her own brush of dream and fantasy. But did she ever really know who he was?

She had heard of his tragic past. She had only discovered, after knowing him for years, that his brother had killed his entire family. She had dreamed of so many things that dealt with Sasuke: How they would get married, have children, or even go on a date just holding hands. She had dreamed about how he would answer her when she told him she loved him. She had dreamed of him as her Prince of Ninjas, wearing an ANBU uniform and a confident smirk. She had never dreamt of him, standing before a house with a wide-eyed, scared look in his eyes. She had never imaged him watching his parents die, watching his brother encouraging him to live a life filled with only vengeance and hatred, watching him grow with such words haunting his every step and every move... watching and helpless to it all.

She never knew, so she never imagined.

Until now.

Actually, it was really the year before. It had all started this very day, exactly one year ago. She had finally mustered the courage a week before to sneak into the inner records, one of the few places that were restricted even to her, the Chuunin apprentice of the Godaime herself. She had used a bit of illusion to let herself in, after having had an unusually long and childish spat with Ino on who knew Sasuke better and who deserved him more. All she had wanted was a little information to show Ino up, but what she got was the bloody history of the Uchiha clan. One that was more detailed than she could have ever wanted to know. It was a history filled with sacrifice, greed, and tragedy. It was wreckage she could not look away from or stop reading about; it was wreckage that opened her disbelieving eyes bit by bit.

She hadn't the courage to face him for almost a week afterwards. Guilt ridden, she processed everything she read slowly, but she didn't have the courage to come to this house then. That night, she dreamt of fire. It burned and blackened the sky. She couldn't remember what was burning, who had set it, but after she woke she felt both exhilarated and afraid. It was a feeling she did not dare indulge in. Instead, she let the thoughts and the knowledge fester. She planned and plotted, without even herself realizing what she was doing.

Until now.

"What are you doing here, Sakura?" His mask was cracking. He was getting impatient with her silence. She had always been so eager to tell him everything. Silly things, mundane things, things to cheer him up when she felt him filled with a rage she could not name or understand. Things that Uzumaki Naruto had always appreciated, but she had never given the other boy a thought, much less a chance. Even now, she was just burning her bridges. She had promised Naruto silently, last night, when she had kissed him, surprised and blushing, on the cheek goodnight: Today was going to be the end of it all. All the chasing, all the blindness, all the madness and the blood and the vengeance... It was all going to end. The cycle, Sasuke's and her own foolishness, was going to end this day.

She was going to stop being a child, and she was taking Sasuke down with her.

In this house she saw. She saw the blood stain that could never be washed out of the wood. She saw the rotting paper doors. She saw the empty rooms filled with silence, a heavy atmosphere of ghosts and memories. She saw this house, inside and out. She had moved within it, opening doors and peering into the dust-filled, empty rooms... and now she knows. This was Sasuke. Sasuke standing alone in an empty house with blood under the dust on the floors; Sasuke staring with an empty-eyed gaze, out into a world with no one to fill the silent moments; Sasuke filled with the past, eyes unable to see the present. This was a boy who was leaving footprints on the grey, dusty floors of an empty house. It was a house haunted only by his last memories of it. They were powerful and dreadful memories, but memories, nonetheless.

"What is that smell?" he asked. She could even see him wrinkle his nose so. Almost child-like, almost as if he was that child that had died here with the parents. In that moment, he was almost the person who came before the anger, the boy who was before the man. "Is that... gasoline?"

She lit a match and dropped it before turning to face him, walking towards him as the flames shot up around him. "We should go before the house burns down, Sasuke-kun." The way she said his name, the way she must have looked, eyes wild and dark. Her mouth and her expression had felt as stiff on her face as any mask when she brushed past his still figure. His gaze looked passed her though, not seeing her.

He had never seen her. He had never seen any of them except Naruto. Naruto was the only one who he had thought of as a threat. Naruto was the only one who had beaten him in his race for power. Naruto was the only one who had lived while Sasuke had died. Naruto who was hers now, and she would protect him from this man she had once proclaimed her undying and eternal love to. She would not let this Sasuke destroy that boy she could finally see clearly and who had always seen her. The monster had destroyed Sasuke in the past. She would not let this almost monster do the same to Naruto.

He was swearing, even as she stood outside. He stumbled out from the smoke, eyes filled with something wilder than the craze that engulfed her, even though they were tear-filled from the bite of the heat and smoke. The fire was in his gaze, a cold heat emanating in hate and fear and rage. She felt as if he could not reach her though, as if he could not burn her. That dream before her eyes lived now before her waking form. That blackening sky and that blazing flame, so large it crackled and splintered in a dance of flames.

"What did you do?" he demanded. His fingers were on her arms as she rocked on her heels. His voice was raspy from the smoke. He couldn't stop coughing or hurting her.

Still, she only smiled, though it did not feel natural and she doubt it looked very convincing. Her gaze was no longer emerald but a deep, forest green, saturated with an emotion he could not recognize or name. A secret she kept locked away. A garden she would no longer wish to share with him. "I burned you, Sasuke. The boy who was trapped in that house asked me, "Why must I continue to haunt such an empty house of murder?" and I answered him in fire. I set him free."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Sasuke swore. She had never heard him swear before. Then again, as Sakura looked at him, she realized that she had never really looked at him, not anymore than he had looked at her.

"I saw Sasuke one day, standing in a house. I saw him as a little boy, before a river of blood and confusion. And the monster said to the boy, "Live and hate, continue to survive only on the substance of such things. Live in this empty house. Live upon the blood I leave. Live for the stains of violence that will not wash away."" Sasuke's eyes were wide and wild, his breath was shallow from both the smoke he inhaled and the words she fed him. His skin was pallid and gleaming from sweat, and he shook even as his grip bruised her.

"So the boy lived." she continued uncaring of his state or her own. "But he was not really alive. So he survived and continued to stay in the house, even though a part of him went to school and trained and made friends and lived elsewhere in town. So people loved the beautiful part of him that brooded. They forgot the empty house, but he did not. They forgot the monster, but he did not. They did not see a heart dipped in the black bile of the past, even though he did so daily, a ritual he found himself never deviating from. And no one saw the boy who stayed behind. No one saw the thing that survived in his place."

Sasuke's fingers grasped onto her throat. He did not want her to continue. He did not want her to say another word. But he could not stop the wildness in her eyes. In fact, it only grew stronger as his trembling fingers tightened, crushing her wind-pipe painfully slow. And her voice was like a wave that was out to drown all who stood near. And her words pulled him down into the depth, drowning him alive. And she was unstoppable.

She continued, her one hand on his throat, mirroring his. Her other hand was on his cheek, just below his eyes that glowed with eerie light. "So his eyes looked backwards, only remembering, while one part of him sought power, the other sought pain. So he glanced, forward for power, backward for pain. The present was so empty, so he dared not look to the now. But I want you to look, Sasuke. So look Sasuke. Look."

Her laugh was gurgled and choked, but she was limp before him, her gaze accusing and filled with something he could not name, that he dare not name. Unlike the house he left behind, she was not empty, but she engulfed him and ate him whole nonetheless. He could not stand such a gaze, so he threw her away like a doll, like a leaf, like something he could discard. But her gaze was burning into him like the house behind him was burned by the flames. Somewhere, there was an alarm in the village. Soon there would be people here, trying to save a house that no longer could be saved, trying to save a boy long gone.

She coughed and retched and heaved and clawed at her throat, as if he had not stopped choking her, her body convulsing and shuddering. Then there was silence and stillness. Then there was laughter. And she laughed and laughed, hoarse and uneven and whispery. Yet, it rang unlike anything else, and he could not block it from his ears as something deep and dark was forced to listen to the choking sound. "Look, Sasuke," her voice was filled with delight and pain. "Look at the present burn. Does it have your attention now? Do you see the boy in the empty house now?"

"You're insane," he accused her. His black eyes reflecting the flames, but she knew his heart could not beat with such a fire.

"No," she answered as she pushed herself up. Her expression was somber and grave now, her gaze digging into him as none had done so in the past. There was no pity, no kindness, no judgment, and no illusions. She looked at him with compassion, a terrible, clear and unforgiving compassion. He could not speak to stop her. "I see you, Sasuke – boy, man, child, brother, friend, and enemy." Her stare never wavered, nor did her words. "But you don't. You don't see anything at all."

"What are you saying?" he demanded. His voice was raspy, as if he was the one who was choked and not her. The places where her fingers had been felt like bruised imprints, leaving unseen marks upon him. He was afraid, but he had never shown fear since that day. He did not even know why he was afraid of her, of all people.

Did he even remember what it had been like? Did he remember how it had felt, that expression of fear he had once wore for the last hours of his youth? His muscles might. He didn't know if he could do it again. Not before this house. He did not want to be wearing the expression he wore that night, never again. Yet, he felt the contortions of his face, following a familiar path that he had dared not tread since that day years ago, when he had been a child for the last time.

"Isn't it in your blood? Isn't it in your Uchiha-eyes? Why can you not see the truth in this, as you can read your enemy's moves?" Sakura taunted him with a smile. He could feel the heat of the flames, ready to eat him alive. "Are you feeling alive, Sasuke? Do you remember how it feels to live? Can you read me, Sasuke? Can you read my intent? Do you even know your own?"

"I know what it means to survive." His voice was cold now. He was retreating from the flames, even as it burned away everything. But she would not let him retreat. She would not leave him be.

"You know only hate. You know only how to live off of the air of stale, old rage. You don't know a thing about life. You don't see the empty house. You think you know who the boy was, Sasuke? He is in that house, Sasuke. He is alone in an empty house with the blood of the dead on the floor as his only companions." Sakura pointed to the fire behind him. "He is burning, Sasuke, to ashes. How are you going to save him?"

"Fight fire with fire." Sasuke answered calmly as the villagers came bursting towards them, buckets in their hands and shouts on their lips.

Sakura did not even glance at them to acknowledge their presence. She only laughed. It was a laugh directed at him. "You don't know a thing about fire," she replied. "You know only hatred. But that will burn him more.

"The lost, little boy in an empty house. The lost, little boy who was helpless, who had to choose between revenge and life, and did. The boy who chose the former over the latter because he was scared of one less than the other, but scared nonetheless. Because, it was all the monster had taught him that day, was willing to teach him." Sakura's gaze was fire in the night, created by that pillar of black smoke and that red-gold flame that the rushing shadows of the people around them could not disturb or diminish. "You're so alone, Sasuke," she said. "So let the fire burn."

And when it is over, Sasuke, all you'll have are ashes.

In the crowd and the shadows, backed by the black pillar of smoke and the red wave of fire that she had created for him, he was utterly alone. But it was the smile on her lips and the dark, golden-green of her eyes that he would come to remember.

She was a threat now. Not Naruto. He would never have thought it so clear, or so possible. "Look, Sasuke. Look."

Look and burn.

The End

-

Okay...

So Sakura's slightly insane. So the author's slightly insane. Eh. It was fun to write

No, I don't hate Sasuke. I'm disenchanted with him, that's all.

blue


Review hints:

I suggest less usage of unoriginal words like: Insane, insanity, crazy, craziness, madness, on drugs, ect.

I suggest you use more pleasant and interesting descriptions like: Unique, abnormal, inspirational, fluffish, lasting impression, amusing, amazing, humerous, lovable, cute, etc.