AN: Hey guys! Welcome to my first Naruto fic! This whole thing'll be a collection of fics. They're by no means connected to each other, unless I say so.
Want to know why I call them marshmallows? Because they're soft, sweet, and fluffy. And they don't necessarily mean short, because mallows are of different sizes right? – grins –
Anyway, this first one is about Sasuke and Sakura watching the cherry blossoms. It's a bit long, but not too much.
I haven't been to a Sakura-matsuri (cherry blossom festival) but I have read enough books and watched enough anime to accurately describe it, I guess. It's a festival to celebrate the coming and going of the Sakura Blossoms, which only appear for a few days in April. It's celebrated with family and friends gathering under the sakura trees for sake, haiku, videoke, and plain-sakura viewing or 'hanami'.
Disclaimer: I own my own mansion, the Vatican, and the fastest jet in the world! I also own Naruto!
Anyone who agrees with me, raise thine hand.
crickets chirp, Tenshi no Hana-chan sweatdrops -
Sakura Festival: Feast for Sasuke's Eyes
From the moment Uchiha Sasuke stepped out of the place he called home, he knew he was in for a very long day.
Sakura petals blew all over Konoha and all over his front yard as they blossomed again, as was their nature. They would come briefly for a few days, then as quickly, the as quickly as they had come, they were gone. So it was natural for Konoha and the rest of the villages to celebrate the sakura-hana's return and their eventual farewell for another with a festival.
And Sasuke hated every minute of the flowers' brief stay.
He had his reasons. One was that everyone would be distracted by the display of nature's beauty that they would forget their duties. One example was Kakashi postponing everything until the festival was over. Tsunade-sama would also stop all missions to give way for the celebrations. If ever there was a mission, it would be because it was an emergency.
During this period, everyone would let their guard down, making it the perfect time for the Sound nins to strike. He knew this because during his brief spell as a Sound nin they had planned to do so. They would have succeeded too had the other nins not been distracted by the pink-and-white floral invasion too. He hoped it was so this year.
He winced as only Uchiha Sasuke could as he tried to push the memory of that experience away.
Another bad thing about the Sakura-matsuri was the fact that fangirls (he couldn't bear to say his fangirls) from all over Konoha would seek him out and ask him to be their date during the climax of each day: the fireworks display every night while flower-viewing, as long as the festival lasted. All holiday long girls would claw hungrily (or so he imagined) just so he could their date. He knew the hanami was a family sort of affair, and it was beyond him why fangirls would rather spend it with him.
Maybe they imagine themselves to be… matrons of the Uchiha clan, he thought disgustedly.
But there was an even worse reason why Sasuke would rather die than live through another painful Sakura-matsuri.
And he didn't mean the flowers, either.
Her face always managed to pop out into his mind every time he set eyes on a petal of the celebrated flower. He supposed before it was because of her name.
But it was different in the recent years. Whenever he rested his onyx orbs on sakura-hana, his mind would immediately, as though by instinct, turn to his bubblegum-haired teammate. He would envision himself (before he could even stop himself) sitting with her on a tatami mat, sipping sake thoughtfully, watching the petal float by, maybe even hold the other's hand, and get nearer to ki-
NO! Sasuke thought, mentally kicking himself as he swatted a petal resting on his nose. That shouldn't have strayed into my mind! I must focus on my goal of avenging my clan!
That was exactly why he hated the Sakura festival. Because he was distracted, not by the pink flowers, but by the girl who carried their name.
Haruno Sakura felt as light as a feather as she skipped to the bridge where Team 7 usually met. It was the beginning of spring, and it was the Sakura-matsuri, the festival that shared her name.
The festival was one that made her happy, because seeing the pink blossoms reminded her that she was beautiful, as beautiful as the flowers despite her abnormally large forehead, or else her mother would never have named her 'Sakura'. She had always promised herself that she would blossom as beautifully as the sakura-hana.
But it was not time to dwell on that. The festival was mainly to celebrate with family and friends. It strengthened bonds. The seventeen year-old sighed contentedly. That was why Sakura-matsuri was one of her favorite occasions.
Now, if she could only get Sasuke to take her to the fireworks display.
She gave another sigh, but this time, it was a sad sigh. She knew, like all the other years, Sasuke would reject her and her invitation, with hurtful words or an even more stinging silence. She had no idea what to do to get him to at least accompany her.
For years, her love for the Uchiha genius never faded, it only grew stronger. Even as he became Orochimaru's ally, her love for him never wavered. She often thought before that that she was too young to call what she felt for Sasuke love. But it was a test for her when he left, and she realized that she was in love with him, truly and deeply. And its intensity only grew when he came back to Konoha.
But no matter how strong my love is, he will never respond, Sakura realized sadly for umpteenth time. He really is just an ice cube.
Her resolve had gotten stronger then. I won't ask him for a date today. It will only bother him. I'll just have to be content with watching over him.
She fingered her kimono tentatively. Surely Kakashi-sensei would cancel training or missions today… he usually did. But she brought a change of training clothes just in case.
As usual, Sasuke was on the bridge first. Was it her imagination, or did his scowl seem deeper that day? Sakura wondered what was there to scowl about. It was only the most beautiful day of the year.
"Hey, Sasuke-kun!" Sakura greeted cheerfully, as was her routine. He grunted in reply. She took her place beside him, leaning on the rail and watching the sakura trees nearby rustle in the April wind. The blossoms scattered and made beautiful patterns in the air.
This is the most beautiful time of the year. I might as well enjoy it, with or without Sasuke.
He had waited for that episode with Sakura to come, but it didn't.
To Sasuke's immense surprise, Sakura had deviated from her habit of asking him out every single day.
Maybe she's doing something. Maybe she's going with her family to the Sakura-matsuri, and she can't ask me.
Maybe she's plain tired of hearing silence every time.
Sasuke frowned. Why do I even care?
Maybe it's because you wanted to say yes if ever she asked you, a small voice in the back of his mind told him. He quickly shoved it into a box. That wasn't possible. It never was.
Year after lonely year Sakura asked him to go with her to the celebrations, and he always refused, either with harsh words or with silence.
But year after year, the strange longing to finally agree with her burned stronger. Sasuke wondered at this. He knew he shouldn't feel that way. Every year, this desire pulled stronger at his heart, gnawing at whatever half-meant reason was left in him. But every year, he had to disappoint Sakura, until he could finally figure out what his feelings meant.
There was a lot of conflict going on in Uchiha Sasuke's confused, befuddled mind.
To his left, he could vaguely hear Naruto shout out his usual greeting. He could hear Sakura happily reply, and the two chattered like there was no tomorrow.
Suddenly, for a reason he couldn't explain, Sasuke felt panicked. What if Naruto asks Sakura to the festival?
He realized what he was thinking. How could I even think that? How could I even care who Sakura's going out with? I shouldn't care, I don't feel anything for her.
Ah, the voice again spoke. How sure are you that you don't feel anything for Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke? It's been years since you last felt, and you've forgotten how to interpret your own feelings.
Kuso, Sasuke thought, growling inwardly. I am NOT in love with Sakura. I will NEVER be in love with Sakura.
Oh, but the harder you try to convince yourself of that, that harder you will fall for her, the inner being inside Sasuke said, smirking. You should be able to learn from the past. The more you shut out your team, the closer you became to them. How do you know this isn't the same scenario?
And no one said anything about being in love with Sakura. You figured that out yourself.
Sasuke felt frustrated. He couldn't be. He was about to argue with his mind when a sudden poof jolted him out of his thoughts. Their former teacher had arrived.
"You're late!" Naruto yelled, as was their routine.
"I was helping this granny-" Kakashi began, but Sakura cut him off.
"No excuse!" she shouted. Suddenly, she blinked and look at her wristwatch. "Wow, you're only twenty minutes late! You're usually, what, hours late! That's a new record, right?"
Kakashi grinned, or else that's what everyone thought, as they couldn't see through his mask. "Yeah, I know, right? Well, I came extra early-" (At this, Sasuke snorted) "- to tell you that we won't be doing anything today. It's the Sakura festival, after all, and we all deserve a break, right?" He looked at Sakura and her kimono. "Looks like you anticipated this."
"You do this every year, Kakashi-sensei," Sakura pointed out.
"Well, anyway, that's that. You can go now." With another poof, he was gone.
"Well, bye bye, Sakura-chan!" Naruto exclaimed, waving. "I'm going to the hanami with Hinata-chan! She promised ramen!" And with that, the blond fox was gone, leaving Sakura and Sasuke alone.
Sakura shook her head at Naruto's retreating form. "Typical Naruto," she said softly. "Nothing matters except ramen and Hinata-chan."
"Well," Sakura said, grinning at Sasuke, "I'm going now. I'm going to the hanami too."
She began to skip off, but stopped at Sasuke's voice. "Wait."
She turned. "Yes, Sasuke-kun?"
"You're going alone?" Sasuke asked, as though his mouth had a brain of its own. Why was he concerned with Sakura's affairs, anyway?
"Yeah, I am," Sakura replied with some surprise. The corner of Sasuke's mouth twitched, as though he was going to smile. Without thinking, he strode to her and wrapped her hand around his. Sakura blushed, but said nothing.
"Then let me take you," Sasuke said simply.
This is certainly a surprise, Sakura thought, blushing so red that it put her hair to shame. Since when has Sasuke-kun been so… straightforward? Not to mention thoughtful enough to accompany me? And he's holding my hand! And his grasp is so tight too! And he's doing the pulling! This isn't Sasuke-kun, it can't be!
"Are you sure you're Sasuke-kun?" she wondered out loud, mostly to herself. Apparently, it was loud enough to be heard by Sasuke.
"Yeah, I think so," he muttered, the corner of his mouth curling up into a small smile. Sakura blushed again. It wasn't because he heard her, it was because of the smile.
He smiled at me. Not a smirk, a smile. It may have been small, but it's a smile, in Sasuke's world. She felt as though a balloon had risen in her chest.
She could feel eyes on her and Sasuke. She noticed the girls that formed his fan club had been giving her death glares. She tried her best not to look smug. I… I won. Over all of them. I'm the one Sasuke-kun chose… in the end, his first date is with me… and mine with him… I was right not to give up on him…
The Inner-Sakura was jumping up and down with glee. Oh my god I'm with Uchiha Sasuke THE Uchiha Sasuke gosh this is so exciting what if he kisses me or does stuff oh my gosh I feel so tinglyandhappyandplainburstingwith EXCITEMENT!
Millions of thoughts ran through Sakura's mind as Sasuke led her to the sakura grove, where most people did their hanami. These thoughts passed by so fast that she didn't have time to look them over. Then one of these thoughts stopped all others in their tracks.
What if he's just using me to get away from his fan club?
The balloon in her chest was pricked by a needle.
Sakura bit her lip, contemplating on the possibility. It doesn't even seem far-fetched. I'm the only girl he knows. He's close enough to me to be doing this. And since he knows me and how to control my mood swings, he can do this sort of thing. Whereas if he just picked up some random girl to pose as his date so his fan club won't attempt to harass him… it would mean disaster for him.
She wanted so badly to confront him. But she knew she'd be quite embarrassed if she did. Of course, I could be dead wrong…
But there's just no other logical explanation! Just that… She gave a small inaudible gasp as she realized something. …or he really does want to spend time with me… genuinely… no holds barred, no strings attached, just plain being together…
She sighed, as reasons, one after the other, chased each other, wreaking confusion in poor Sakura's mind. Her emerald pools looked downcast. Not a very usual sight, a first date with the girl looking quite unhappy. She gave a shuddering sigh. Her body trembled, and Sasuke felt it.
"Anything wrong?" Sasuke asked quietly, searching her eyes, not slowing his pace.
"I…" She took a deep breath. It was now or never. She grabbed her hand away from him, and they stopped walking. "Sasuke-kun, are you really taking me? I mean, on a real-sort-of-kind-of-I-guess-most-probably date?" She said the last word in a squeak, so that if he didn't hear, she wouldn't have embarrassed herself.
But Sasuke had sharp ears. "Yes," he said, sounding exasperated, but his face had reddened quite a bit. He grabbed her hand again, turning his face away from her. "Now, come on. Are you going to be happy or not?"
"I'm doing this to make you happy," Sasuke said curtly. "Now, come on."
"But… but…" Sakura spluttered, refusing to follow him. "But since when did you care?" She was glad they were in a secluded part of the grove, or else she would have wanted to disappear into the ground. What kind of girl complained on her first date? She looked down on her sandals, biting her lip.
"Always." She looked up abruptly, and there it was again. The small smile she often wished was on his face. Just as suddenly as it came, it was gone, replaced by an impatient frown. "Now, are you coming, or do I have to carry you there, talking for hours about my reasons?"
Sakura laughed, her cheeks tinged with pink. "I'm coming!"
All was right in Sakura's world.
All was not right in Sasuke's world, however.
As he vaguely paid for snacks at a stall, one of the many in the grove, he thought of what he had just done. His world had been turned upside down, and it was his own fault.
I just asked Sakura out, she wasn't too happy at first, I held her hand, and I want her to be happy. What is wrong with me?
The stall owner wrapped their package in a plastic bag, and cheerily said, "I hope you enjoy the festival with your lady-love, sir!"
He stopped short. Slowly, he turned his gaze to the man selling the food. "What did you say?" he asked slowly.
"E-enjoy the festival with your girl?" The man gulped audibly, looking as though he realized he had touched a nerve.
"She's not my girl," Sasuke mumbled. The last thing he needed was gossip to be spread around that Sakura was his girlfriend.
"S-sorry," the man stammered. "I-I'll be… um… not bothering you now…"
"Come on," Sasuke muttered to Sakura, who had stood as though in a daze. In his eyes, she was looking sad again. He frowned as they hurried away from the stall and the people who were staring in their wake. "I told that guy you weren't my girlfriend because neither of us wants to be the topic of gossip, now do we."
"Of course, Sasuke-kun," Sakura said, catching up to him as he held her hand again. "I understand."
From the main path, they took a turn. Sakura looked confused. "Where are you taking me, Sasuke-kun?"
"The Uchihas' private viewing spot," he said. His heart lifted when he saw Sakura's surprised face. They climbed the stairs to the said spot. "When… they were alive, my family used to take me here and… watch the sakura."
"But it must be sad for you," Sakura said, pity in her voice.
"Don't worry about it," he said curtly. With that, they stopped talking and walked in comfortable silence, lost in their own thoughts.
I'm taking Sakura to a place I have not visited since I was a child, since my clan was killed. And strangely, I don't feel any sadness, because I'm taking comfort that Sakura is with me. What the hell is wrong with me?
When that stall owner said that she was my girlfriend, why didn't I feel embarrassed? Why did I feel… happy, but oddly defensive? Shit, Sakura's turned my whole world upside down. This whole festival's turned my world upside down.
Do I really feel something for Sakura? Does she really mean a lot to me? Do I really love her?
I can't love her! If I do…
Itachi will kill her!
The Uchiha prodigy looked at the girl he was holding the hand of. She was distracted, looking at the sakura-hana floating around in the breeze, a slight smile on her face. The blue kimono with the floral accent flapped in the wind, showing a bit of her creamy legs. The wind threw her hair this way and that, but it didn't look messy to Sasuke. To him, she looked… stunning, to say the least.
Stunning? Is that even in my vocabulary?
For the love of hell, am I really in love with her?
If Itachi finds out, he will kill her!
He grasped her hand tighter, and she turned her gaze to him, an obvious question in her eyes.
I'll just have to protect her, won't I?
The stairs stopped, and Sasuke led Sakura to a deck overlooking Konoha. "Come here," he said, a secret smile on his face. He wondered if Sakura saw it.
He watched Sakura's facial expression to go from stoic to shocked to delighted. "Oh… my… lord…" she breathed. "It's… it's beautiful, Sasuke-kun! It's the most beautiful place in the world!"
For down below the deck, he knew she could see the whole of the sakura grove, with all its beautiful sakura trees, and the blossoms flying as far as the eyes could see. The sky was blue, the air was cool, it was perfect.
Her fascination with the place was like his every time he visited the place when he was a kid.
He never came to this place since his family's death, till then. He often thought that coming back here would mean more painful memories. Memories of a childhood lost.
Whenever the Sakura-matsuri came, he often looked at the families celebrating, and it hurt him to see them enjoying each others' company, while he had no one to enjoy it with. That was why he was holed up in the Uchiha mansion every time the festival came.
He watched Sakura as she looked around the place. "Wow! It even has a small house!" she was exclaiming, like a child who had just gotten a gift. "And the trees… the nature… it's just all perfect!"
I don't feel any sadness.
Sakura ran into the house, dragging Sasuke with her. "It's a shed for things!" Sakura said. "But it's so… snazzy, as sheds go!" She let go of Sasuke's hand and grabbed some tatami mats and a jar of sake, which had been in the shed.
Sakura frantically set up the tatami mats, the food, and the sake on the white cobblestone deck, and Sasuke watched her, fascinated.
It was the first time in years he enjoyed a Sakura-matsuri.
So beautiful… so very beautiful…
Sakura couldn't find any other word to describe the place Sasuke had brought her to. The beauty of nature overwhelmed her. She raised her hand, palm up, and let the sakura blossoms flying in the breeze brush her hand.
"This is the most beautiful place in the whole world!" she gushed, facing Sasuke with a big smile on her face. "It's so… beautiful!"
"For lack of anything to say?" Sasuke asked, smirking.
"Un, you could call it that," Sakura said, laughing. "Oh, Sasuke-kun, thank you so very much!" She raised her arms to hug him, but she stopped short, blushing.
I can't ruin this. He won't like it if I hug him.
But Sasuke gave a very small chuckle. Wow, Sakura thought, dazed. A smile and a laugh, all in one day!
"It's all right, Sakura," he said quietly, the smile still in his eyes. "I don't mind."
Tentatively, Sakura raised her arms to hug him. But instead of wrapping her arms around his neck, she wrapped them around his waist. She felt Sasuke tense in surprise as she rested her head on his chest.
"Thank you," she whispered.
Sasuke watched Sakura watch the sakura-hana. For some reason, he couldn't take his eyes of her. From her hair to her eyes to her very well formed body, she was so beautiful, that for several moments Sasuke's mind could process nothing but her face.
His heart began racing faster. How he wanted to touch her face, her hair, her arms… he noticed vaguely that he hadn't taken his hand off hers much during the duration of their being together. He couldn't. It was too smooth and creamy, even after years of wielding shuriken and kunai. Distractedly he ran his fingers up and down her hand.
It was lucky for him that Sakura couldn't notice that he was staring avidly, not at the sakura-hana, but at her. Her emerald eyes were glittering as she sat transfixed by the show of nature's beauty. She was more beautiful, no, stunning, than Sasuke could ever remember.
His resolve not to kiss her right then and there grew weaker. She was too beautiful.
No. No. No. I won't do it. I can't let Itachi find out I have a weakness.
So you finally admit it, the voice inside him piped up. Sakura's your weakness.
Shut up, Sasuke thought angrily.
No matter how much you say that, you can't tune me out, Sasuke. I'm you, remember that. You will always hear what I say, just as I will hear you.
You're in love with Sakura. You can't deny that.
Sasuke decided to stop thinking for a while and watch the sakura-hana with Sakura. But moments later, his gaze had again rested on her. It was several minutes later that he realized he was staring. He shook his head, and tried to keep his eyes on the flowers.
But his head kept turning towards her. She, however, kept her undivided attention on the flowers.
For almost an hour, they sat in silence, Sakura comfortable, Sasuke not. Sakura's head drooped onto Sasuke's shoulder, as a testament on how comfortable she was. Sasuke froze at first, but relaxed and let Sakura stay that way.
After a while, Sakura suggested lunch, and they ate, talking about random things. Sakura did most of the talking, and Sasuke, for the first time, finally allowed himself to enjoy the simple pleasure of Sakura talking about things that interested her.
Once or twice, she had caught him staring at her and not taking in a word she was saying. "…so I read in this book that-" Suddenly had she stopped, frowning. "Uh, earth to Sasuke-kun."
Sasuke had shaken his head, and indicated for her to continue.
Finally, Sakura had dropped off to sleep on the tatami mat, and that left Sasuke more time to do some Sakura-viewing. He ran a finger over her porcelain cheek, and wondered if one day, he would be able to wake up to this sight.
At that thought, Sasuke bit his lip. As long as Itachi was alive, he could not do so. Finding out he felt at least something for Sakura had strengthened his resolve to kill his brother. He would kill him, for his own sake, and hers, if her destiny was intertwined with him.
Already, you're planning married life with Sakura, the inner voice said, a smirk in his voice. You are in love with her.
And what if I am? Sasuke retorted.
Then that makes things more complicated, right?
I don't care. Sakura…
Sasuke's face gave off a trace of a smile. She's mine.
It was already dusk when Sakura woke up. "Why didn't you wake me up, Sasuke-kun?" she muttered sleepily, rubbing her eyes.
"You looked peaceful," he said. Sakura smiled. He really was a man of few words.
"Thanks. But I hope we didn't miss the fireworks," she said.
"We haven't," Sasuke replied. "That's an hour from now." Sakura nodded, feeling a sense of contentment and peace, even in Sasuke's presence.
Before, the boy's aura reeked of death and destruction. It was ironic now that she felt at peace with him. She smiled and went to sit with Sasuke to talk with him.
"Did I snore?" Sakura asked, giggling.
"No," Sasuke said, snorting. "I would have woken you up if you did."
"I would've annoyed you, huh?" the pink-haired kunoichi asked, a lilt in her voice.
"Of course." Sakura laughed.
"Typical you, ne, Sasuke-kun?" she asked, grinning.
"It's starting!" Sakura gasped, absolutely giddy with excitement. Sasuke gave her one his signature miniscule smiles.
A streak of light went up into the air, and exploded into bright colors. Sakura gasped again, and applauded. Sasuke watched in silent satisfaction, pulling Sakura closer by the waist.
Streak after streak of light went up into the air, exploding into red, green, and blue. Some of the fireworks made the sky glitter, others covered it with colored smoke. A lot of them exploded with a lot of noise.
"It's just like the New Year!" Sakura exclaimed. Without taking her eyes off the fireworks display, she murmured, "Do you think we can go here this New Year?"
"It's a date, then," Sasuke mumbled in her ear. She grinned and rested her head on Sasuke's shoulders once more, both content that the other was satisfied, caring not what the world thinks, or what would come the next day.
They would be together to face it.
Spring brings new things to the world. It brings new life, new life, and fresh beginnings. It ushers in new chances and opportunities.
And for others, it ushers love, fresh, new, and ready.
AN: So happy I finished this in a day!
Did you like it or not? Please tell me so in a review!
Thanks, all you sasusaku lovers out there! Peace out!