Summary: She had given up on the idea of being anything more than a friend to him, concentrating more on her training than him. During the course of her training, he had begun to realize that what he felt about her was past peripheral vision. Sasuke/Sakura.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, at all. All the characters belong to Kishimoto Masashi-sensei. The only thing in this story that is mine will be the OCs and the plot itself.
Past Peripheral Vision
Chapter One – Voluntarily Blinded
Warm tan eyes looked at the figure hunched before her, a girl with short pink hair that suited her better than long, rose colored tresses. A girl who had a simple sleeveless dress styled much like the dress of her Genin days but bigger to fit her more womanly body. A girl that had fingerless red metal plated gloves that reached just an inch or two above her elbows. A girl with her hitai-ate in her hand, the engraved symbol of Konoha facing her darkened jade eyes. Her pink hair was covering her eyes, covering the swirling green that was hazed with frustration. The owner of the tan eyes understood why she was like that. After all, she had just made one of the most painful decisions of her life, letting go, resigning to the fact that she could probably never be more than a friend to him.
The pink haired girl had gone to her, the Godaime Hokage of Konoha, as well as her master, for advice. She had knocked on the door and surprisingly, the Godaime had answered it herself, only to be greeted by a crying face and the pink haired girl latching onto her for support. Her parents couldn't understand the predicament she was in as her problem related to her life as a kunoichi. Her parents were merely civilians. She, as the Godaime Hokage, had suggested to her to train her senses, to blind herself voluntarily to see the world in a different light as well as to hone her other senses. She couldn't be dependent on her sight alone to merely see. There were some things that went beyond peripheral vision. The pink haired girl was frustrated because she didn't want to blind herself but she did. It was either one or the other.
"I can't do it, Tsunade-shishou," mourned the girl as she curled her body together, dropping her hitai-ate on the floor as she continued crying. She didn't need to cry this hard because of him once more. She did four years ago when she was still a Genin. She was a Chuunin now and had been for quite some time. "I just can't…" she whispered as tears continued to fall to the wooden floor. This was the third time she was crying because of him. She cried four years ago to make him stay in Konoha. She cried a year ago when they brought him back from Orochimaru's clutches. She was crying now because of a lost love. He still would not recognize her feelings for him and she was tired of waiting. If she couldn't be with him, she would be with no other. She loved him too much for that but she couldn't take the hurt anymore.
"Look, Sakura, I'm not forcing you to do this but thinking of something else other than him will do you some good," said Tsunade as she made the pink haired girl face her. Picking up the fallen hitai-ate, Tsunade gave the blue cloth to her. "Put this around your eyes, cover them. Hide from the illusions of the day and hone your other senses. Train, train to fight this feeling of despair," spoke Tsunade as she stood up straight, "And I will help you, I promise you that much. I can't be the one to break down the walls you're trying to destroy to create a new path for yourself. I, however, can help you. The Jounin Exams are next year and will be held here in Konoha. Train and ready yourself for it. I'm sure you will pass and become a Jounin Konoha can be proud of. You don't have to decide now. When you come to me tomorrow, tell me your decision then." Sakura nodded as she stood up slowly, shakily. Hugging the Godaime once more, she excused herself and began walking back to her own home.
Her walk home was silent as she focused her jade green eyes on the ground. She felt miserable inside but she knew she had to make a choice. It was to help her see her life in a new light, besides strengthen her. Becoming a Jounin seemed promising. It meant more and harder missions to help her avert her gaze towards him and him alone. He was a Chuunin just like her but a fairly new one, as it took a few months to regain the trust of Konoha in him. Knowing his nature, he would enter the Jounin Exams next year and become a Jounin, possibly in the ANBU. Gripping her hitai-ate even tighter, she took a right. As she wasn't focusing on who was in front of her, she bumped into someone. Opening her mouth to apologize, she shut it tightly. It was him. He opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. Clearly, it was an uncomfortable situation, even for the great Uchiha Sasuke.
"Don't say anything, Sasuke-kun. I've cried enough for you already," said Sakura as she looked up at him, willing herself to keep the tears locked inside of her. At least while she was in his presence. She didn't want him to see her fragility, the fragility he so mocked when they were younger. "Tsunade-shishou told me that starting tomorrow; I could train with my blindfold wrapped around my eyes, depending on my other senses to see instead of my eyes. It's so different from you and your Sharingan right? You're wholly dependent on it," said Sakura bitterly as she continued looking at him with an even gaze. "Sasuke-kun, I want you to be the last one I see before I shut my eyes. Grant me at least that honor before I stop chasing you and we remain friends," she said, her voice strained.
"Aa," he replied softly, his onyx eyes gazing at her piercing jade, bloodshot ones. Suddenly, Sakura pressed her lips against his, her arms pulling his head down to share her first and last bittersweet kiss with him. Pulling away, Sakura fled from him, her tears finally falling. Unconsciously, his fingers touched his lips, his eyes following her figure. Why, when she had kissed him, did his heart wrench with an unimaginable amount of pain and sorrow? Wasn't she just a friend to him, his most precious one but a friend nonetheless? No matter how much he wanted their relationship to grow, he was simply not the right man for her. He was an avenger and no one could tell when he'd simply leave to kill his brother, not even himself. She deserved someone she could always go home to. Not a wanderer like himself. "Sakura… I'm sorry," he whispered, his first and last apology since his Clan had died.
The Next Day
Tsunade watched Sakura as she stumbled to the forest floor. She had left Shizune a note saying that tomorrow; she'd complete the day's work. She had specifically asked not to be disturbed today unless it was a matter that could not wait under any circumstance. Today was the day Sakura was going to get used to having the hitai-ate wrapped around her face, shielding her eyes from the light. Tsunade had said she could remove it was when she was taking a bath, in order to wash her face and for fifteen minutes every day, she wouldn't have it on. Her eyes had to be used, to assure that they would still be able to see even after the training she would undergo. Sakura had learned all that there was to know about medical jutsu, studying them for four years after all. This training would be for her Tai Jutsu over her Nin and Gen Jutsu. Occasionally, she would be given a scroll to read and study, allowing use for her eyes but that would be very rarely.
"Sakura, stand up! You won't be able to train if you can't even walk properly with the hitai-ate around your face!" barked out Tsunade as her student rose for the tenth time in the morning. It was only six-thirty and she had fallen so many times. Their training had started thirty minutes ago. Struggling, the pink haired Chuunin stood up. She had never realized it would be this hard, that she would suffer drastically because of it. "Sakura, if you can make it through today with ease, we can begin the actual training tomorrow," shouted out Tsunade to the girl. Sakura groaned. She had forgotten it wasn't even the beginning and she was already having a difficult time. Struggling, she stood up and continued walking around; trying to get used to the fact that she had voluntarily blinded herself.
Up in the trees, a certain figure was watching. He had followed her, curious as to what she would do in her life now that he was out of the picture. He had sighed with relief at that prospect but something in him just kept on reminding the remaining Uchiha that she wasn't merely another person that he knew. He kept shrugging it off, thinking that it was better for her to train herself more than focusing her time and attention on him. After all, she was still the weakest among the three of them. Of course she had grown much stronger over time but she was still significantly weak compared to them. Glancing down, he couldn't help but wince in pain. She had fallen to the ground quite a number of times in training he would never subject himself to. Yet, she was determined to complete the task. Rising, he decided to leave before they noticed his presence.
Hours had passed and Sakura had already started getting used to the idea of depending on her other senses to help her "see". She had noticed during this morning alone that everything around her emanated some sort of power, no matter how weak it was. The thrumming of energy from everything was different. A tree five meters to her right emanated a sharp power compared to a tree fifteen meters dead ahead of her. She had almost bumped the tree but she had stopped right in front of it, as if she had seen it. Taking a couple of steps to the right, Sakura had walked past the tree, her left arm brushing slightly against the trunk. A smile found its way to Tsunade's face as she noted Sakura's progress. It was almost noon and she had been training on this for nearly six hours. She was a fast learner that much she could say.
"Sakura, we can stop for now. Let's go to Ichiraku and then have a bowl of ramen. Afterwards, we can continue your training," said Tsunade as the pink haired girl stopped in front of her. Stretching out an arm, Tsunade grasped Sakura's hand and laid it across her own outstretched one. "You can rest for now. You did a great job being able to get used to stationary obstacles in just six hours, my dear," said Tsunade good-naturedly as she began to lead the pink haired girl to the ramen stall Naruto loved. Sakura blushed, the redness of her cheeks visible even beneath the hitai-ate. As a kunoichi, she could feel others gaze at her for she was so close to the Godaime, her eyes shielded from the outside world by the hitai-ate. "Oh look, it's Naruto," said Tsunade with a wry grin. The blonde bounced over towards Tsunade and Sakura the minute he saw their figures.
"Sakura-chan! Tsunade-baa-chan!" greeted Naruto enthusiastically as he waved. He had grown taller than Sakura by a couple of inches but the pink haired girl was by no means short. Sasuke was still the second tallest among the four of them in Team Seven but that mattered little to Naruto. Seeing her hitai-ate around her face instead of its customary place, acting like a headband, Naruto frowned. "Sakura-chan, why are you wearing your hitai-ate like a blindfold?" asked Naruto, confused as he stretched out his hand to prod the metal plate. Sakura instinctively darted her hand out and stopped his finger, an inch away from the hitai-ate. "Tell me!" prodded Naruto dropping his hand, his body slouching, as he pouted visibly.
"Training, Naruto, she's training," said Tsunade with a triumphant grin, "Unlike Jiraiya, I at least train my student regularly and teach her things she ought to know. Jiraiya's probably doing things I shouldn't be mentioning." Tsunade's lips twitched in annoyance as the mere thought of the Toad Master irked her. Naruto looked at Tsunade, still confused as to why Sakura was blindfolded. "It's to hone her other senses, so she won't be wholly dependent on her vision. It's also for her Tai Jutsu training. After all, an enemy shinobi won't always attack up front," explained Tsunade in more simple terms so the fox boy could understand.
Naruto simply nodded as he dragged the two of them to sit down beside him as he had lunch. Naruto was on his second bowl the minute the two females sprouted into view. Tsunade simply ordered a bowl of miso ramen while Sakura ordered chicken ramen. The pink haired girl had slight difficulty in breaking the chopsticks and putting the food into her mouth. Naruto offered to help her but Sakura was stubborn. She'd have to get used to the idea of eating with her eyes blindfolded and she didn't anyone to try and help her while she was in the initial stages. Naruto nodded understandingly as he continued to eat his third bowl of ramen. Conversation was pretty casual during the duration of their lunch. Sakura had managed to hit her cheek with the warm noodles a couple of times but after a few minutes, she had gotten used to feeding herself with her eyes closed. The experience was pretty enjoyable until Sakura tensed. He was nearby. She just always knew, even if her eyes were open.
He seated himself at the far end of the stall. Naruto looked quizzically at Sakura who had not greeted him with her usual "Sasuke-kun!" and a squeal of joy followed soon after. She merely continued eating her ramen as if he was never there. Sasuke didn't seem bothered by that. In fact, he seemed mildly calm as he got a bowl of miso ramen for himself. Noticing their silence, Naruto decided to not press any further. Tsunade seemed to know what was up so he'd ask her about it later, when they were alone. He didn't want to upset Sakura. However, one look at the Godaime told him even she wouldn't say. He resorted to asking Sasuke about it when the two females left to wherever they were headed, be it separately or together so Sakura could train even further.
"Sakura, let's go, you still have a lot of training left to do," said Tsunade briskly as she stood up. Sakura nodded slowly as she stood up, tucking stray strands of her rose colored tresses behind her ear. "Good afternoon to you, Naruto, Sasuke." With that, Tsunade began walking back to the forest with Sakura at her heels. She knew the pink haired girl was uncomfortable with Sasuke's presence. Naruto's ocean blue eyes followed the figures of the two females as they walked back to where they had come from earlier. Fishing out some money, Naruto paid for his three bowls of ramen. Looking at Sasuke who had just begun to eat, Naruto glared at him, forgetting about his unfinished third bowl. Raising an eyebrow, Sasuke stopped and looked at him with a questioning gaze.
"What do you want, dobe?" asked Sasuke simply as he continued to eat, not minding the glares Naruto was throwing at him. Naruto bombarded him with questions about Sakura. Why didn't she greet him? Why was she uncomfortable with his presence? Surely the Uchiha would know because he was involved in it, after all. "She's decided to concentrate on her training, as you've noticed dobe," said Sasuke without beating around the bush, "And she's decided to stop concentrating on me. We're just friends now, nothing more and certainly nothing less." Naruto frowned as he mumbled that if Sasuke did anything more to hurt her, he would beat him up. "I'd like to see you try," said Sasuke dryly as he continued to eat his ramen. The blonde fumed as he decided to just leave. He was losing his appetite by just being near Sasuke. He would have gladly just left Sasuke in Orochimaru's clutches if this was how the Uchiha would turn out but he didn't want Sakura to be upset. He made a promise of a lifetime to Sakura's first and only request to bring Sasuke back to Konoha, after all.
In the forest, Tsunade and Sakura had continued training. The pink haired girl's brow furrowed, unnoticeable due to the hitai-ate wrapped around her face. Stray strands of her rose colored tresses spilled down to her face much to her annoyance. She would have to fix that later by either getting another cloth of roughly the same dimensions as her hitai-ate to act like a head band or she could always clip back her bangs. Her mind was totally focused on the task at hand. She was determined to complete as much as she could with her time left with Tsunade. She was grateful that the Hokage had taken one day off to help her start this new training of hers and she wouldn't let her master down with half-meant or mediocre efforts and results.
Besides that, Sasuke's presence in Ichiraku drove Sakura to work harder. Tsunade was satisfied with her ability to simply walk without bumping into anything that Sakura had graduated to trying to dodge moving objects. The Godaime was throwing rocks at her at varying intervals. Sakura had been barely able to dodge even a couple of rocks for the first couple of hours. It was half past three in the afternoon and Sakura was slowly getting the hang of it. Slowly, she had been dodging more and more rocks that the Godaime had decided to speed it up a little. It was almost seven when they had stopped. Tsunade was impressed with Sakura's progress for today. They had been training for six hours in the morning with only a total of fifteen minutes break. In those six hours, Sakura had managed to learn how to walk without bumping into anything. After lunch, they had trained for six and a half hours with a total of fifteen minutes break. She was determined to finish the training with fruitful results.
"Wonderful work, Sakura," said Tsunade, extremely pleased with her student's resolve to learning the basics of living blindfolded. Sakura blushed slightly as she nodded, happy to be able to please Tsunade with what she had accomplished this day. "Since I can't always be with you to supervise your training, I made an exercise regimen for you. I have appointed a Jounin, Mikizuki Aya, to keep watch over your training in my place," said Tsunade as she approached Sakura and handed her a slip of paper. "Obviously, you can't read that with the blindfold on so I'll entrust you to give it to Aya first thing tomorrow morning. She'll pick you up at your house at six tomorrow," continued the Godaime. Sakura nodded obediently. "I'm proud of you today, Sakura. Keep up the good work," praised Tsunade sincerely as she patted the girl's shoulders, "I'll see you next time and I expect you to continue this." With that, Tsunade was gone.
"Yes, Tsunade-shishou," whispered Sakura with a slight smile as she wheeled around and began walking back home. She was more confident now in walking blindfolded. She was more confident now that she would get over him. It was true, what Tsunade had told her. There were some things that went far beyond what the eyes could see. Being infatuated with Uchiha Sasuke was probably one of those stages. She was still his friend, no doubt about that but she didn't seem to mean anything beyond that. One day, she could face him with a straight face and greet him a casual good morning before she would rush off to do whatever else that needed to be done. One day, she'd have the courage to look at their team picture saying they were the friends that had stuck by her through thick and thin during her Genin days. One day, she would be able too look at him and say they were simply friends.
Ah! This is another Naruto fanfic from me. This time, it's set in the real Naruto world with real events happening such as the betrayal of Sasuke and such. Sakura has definitely grown as a kunoichi in this one.
Sasuke has finally pushed Sakura to the limit with his rejections so she decides to blind herself, with the hitai-ate around her face, to hone her other senses and strengthen herself further in her Tai Jutsu. Mind you, she can already see a little bit with her eyes closed but Tsunade is training her to use her other senses before jumping into anything with this training. Plus, it's symbolic.
It's symbolic because when she voluntarily blindfolded herself, it shows that she won't look at things through the simple use of her peripheral, or external, vision. She'll see things through before judging anything and that's exactly how it'll be with her love life now.
Sasuke, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be affected by all this. Well, at least not yet.
Like all my other Naruto fanfics before this, here's the chapter preview!
Next Chapter: Chapter Two – A Casual Hello
Chapter Preview: Sakura's heart stopped momentarily, wrenching with pain as she sensed his presence. He was probably twenty meters away in the busy marketplace, stopping every once in a while to look at some things. He was probably trying to fill his pantry today. Gulping, she clenched her fists together tightly as her heart pounded against her rib cage. She couldn't move at all as he came closer and closer towards where she was standing. The wind was cold against her skin, flushed due to the heat of the bright sun. Moments later, he was lingering in the stall next to where she was standing. Looking up, he saw her standing there. "Sakura," he acknowledged casually before looking back down at the wares of the stall, a few ryo clutched in his hand.