Author's Note: Hello everybody! This is my first, well actually, second Naruto fic. I've decided to just throw the other one in the trash because I've lost all inspiration for that one…Anyway, I hope this meets your expectations! Enjoy!

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Masashi Kishimoto.

Prologue


"Marriage certificate completed and all the documents are verified. Now all that's left is your signatures."

A young couple stood before the Hokage. This sort of situation wasn't a daily occurrence in Konoha but it was certain to happen now and then. The marital bond between two shinobi of Konoha was always an occasion for celebration. However, this certain ceremony was held in secret and no one was present but the seemingly awkward couple and the person needed to complete the transaction; the Hokage.

The groom was young and held a stoic expression on his handsome face. Black hair fell loosely with strands falling into his dark eyes. He reached for the pen and signed his name onto the certificate.

Following his action, the bride soon took up the pen and signed her own name. Unlike the groom, she held a cheery air around her and was, as expected of any young bride, happy that her wedding day had arrived. After signing the certificate she stepped back and stole a glance at her new husband with contentment in her emerald eyes. If her husband did see her look, he did not acknowledge it as she quietly resumed her place by his side without any other desire to know his reaction at the completion of their marriage. Despite his cold demeanor she smiled slightly and gave and inward sigh. She knew that he wouldn't easily show his emotions and although she was a little disappointed, she had long before accepted it as his nature.

"That's it then. Now you two are officially husband and wife!" announced the Hokage who was suddenly cheerful that the ordeal was over and shed all the business-like manner; clearly delighted at the young couple's marriage. "There's nothing better than having two talented shinobi join in matrimony and continuing their services to Konoha. Now I expect you to treat each other with love and respect."

"Yes, of course Hokage-sama. I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize our marriage! Thank you so much!" answered the bride happily as she quickly bowed and followed her husband who had only nodded in response, out the door.

"I know that Sakura." smiled the Hokage benignly at the girl. " I was really talking to you, Sasuke."

Sasuke stopped and turned around slightly to face the Hokage. Most people wouldn't dare to disrespect the number one ninja in the village, and he was in the majority.

"Yes." Was his reply as he stepped out of the office and quietly shut the door behind him.

"Come on Sasuke, what are you waiting for? Hurry up!" called Sakura as she was already halfway down the hall. Although she waved for him to catch up to her, he made no attempt to quicken his pace. When he finally reached her side, she rolled her eyes good-naturedly and came to walk in step with him.

"So, what do you want to do now Sasuke?" asked Sakura as she contemplated a list of possibilities for them to do as if it were a first date. Sasuke however, remained as silent as ever and continued to walk. He seemed to be deep in thought as the newly wedded couple made their way out into the overcast day.

"-or we could get something to eat, or maybe we could go break the news to our friends! I'm sure Naruto would be happy for us, although he might be a little angry that he wasn't invited to the ceremony…" continued Sakura as though Sasuke had rejected every single other idea she had suggested.

Sasuke and Sakura continued their walk as they passed a nearby park where many children were being picked up by their parents since the time was getting late. Sakura smiled as she saw a mother pick up a little boy who had just fallen on the ground. He was about to bawl in his mother's arms but suddenly kept a stiff upper lip at the sight of his father, who patted him on the head for being a strong boy.

Maybe we'll be like that someday…

The clouds overhead began to darken as they gathered over the village of Konoha and soon rewarded the unsuspecting people with a sudden downpour of rain. A biting gust of wind accompanied the sudden storm, causing everyone who was outside to rush into nearby shelter as the rain beat down heavier than ever. Soon, only Sakura and Sasuke remained on the street as they trudged along at Sasuke's moderate pace. Sakura seemed unaffected by the weather as she continued her one-person conversation.

"Hmmm…maybe we shouldn't visit Naruto. Who knows where he is now and I really don't want to find him in this awful weather." Sakura shielded her eyes as she tried to look up into the sky in search of some specks of blue that promised a short storm. Unfortunately, there was none to be found so she looked over at Sasuke who was drenched but paid no attention whatsoever. "Why don't we go warm ourselves up with a drink instead?"

Sasuke barely felt the pressure of the water that weighed down his black jacket. His thoughts had drifted over to his deceased family. Father would have been proud that I've taken another step in my life. Mother would have been so happy that she could finally have a daughter-in-law. She always did talk about how her life would be completed once she saw her sons settle down with a family…And brother would-

His thoughts were interrupted by Sakura's now quivering voice. He suddenly realized that the temperature was dropping rapidly and was finally taking its toll on her. He glanced at her and saw that she was as drenched as himself, but despite the frigid weather, she bravely stayed by his side. She was smiling contently with her long hair cascading into her eyes and down her shoulders in sheets of soft pink. She was unaware of his gaze and continued talking with her breath forming visible puffs of air in the dark. Once in awhile, she would push the hair out of her eyes and seem to come up with a whole other batch of things they could do. Feeling a pang of guilt, Sasuke stopped and averted his gaze to the ground.

Sakura… I know that some people will think that this was just a cruel joke. They'll think that I have my own ulterior motives and that you foolishly agreed to marry me because… you are still the twelve-year-old girl who had a schoolyard crush on me six years ago…but I hope you won't believe them…

Sasuke suddenly felt the welcomed warmth of a hand on his own. "Why don't we just go home Sasuke?" He looked up to see a look of understanding in her eyes. She took his hand and led him through the streets in search of a home, their home, together.

Sakura struggled to hold their hands together as the water slid between their fingers, making it almost impossible to find a secure grasp, that is until she felt Sasuke's limp hand tighten its grip around her own. Surprised, she looked back and saw a faint smile, barely visible through the shadows on his face.

"Ok, Sakura."


"Sasuke, are you leaving?"

"…"

"When will you be back?"

"I don't know."

Sasuke resumed packing his equipment for the ANBU mission that morning and Sakura ceased her questioning. They had been married for two years and Sasuke's cold indifference had not gone away. It wasn't as if it hindered their relationship. On the contrary, their relationship was as healthy as it could possibly be. That is to say that Sakura accepted his behavior and didn't mind the more than occasional silence that hung in between their conversations. There was just a mutual understanding between them and it was pointless to try and push Sasuke into a more intimate relationship.

Sakura still loved him as much as ever and was accustomed to the once awkward moments. After all, he was the "strong, silent type" so she no longer tried to fill the uncomfortable pauses with her incessant chatter. Every time he would leave, she would stay home and worry for his safety. More often than not, it gnawed at her but she quietly resumed her life in dealing with medical studies without him. But it was certain that every time he donned his wolf mask, she would feel a surge of pride mixed along with uneasiness. Just like the Hokage instructed, they both served Konoha to the best of their abilities.

Without another word, Sasuke heaved his pack onto his shoulders and left the door with the quiet click as always. Sakura sighed and looked out the window just in time to see him disappear in a puff of smoke. As was any other time, she smiled with affection for her brave husband but couldn't quite suppress the unfulfilled hope that they could, for once, have watched the first ray of the sunlight fall on the village together.


A quiet signature click indicated that the front door had been opened and closed. Sakura bolted up in bed since she knew that Sasuke was home from his fairly mediocre mission. Lately, the Hokage had not assigned any missions for the ANBU, seeing how conflicts with several other countries had been resolved the year before. Sakura couldn't help but feel relieved that he was home. Although the missions he received weren't deadly, they were still fairly important because he was an exceptional jounin who could handle any situation. No one wanted to waste his talents on low-rank missions. As always, Sakura went downstairs to greet him, glad that he was home safe. This time however, that was not the case.

"Sasuke!" gasped Sakura as she ran over to his staggering form. The light was dim so she couldn't see his injuries but there was no mistaking the smell of blood in the air. His ragged breathing was uneven as she helped him over to the couch. "No Sasuke, hang on!" cried Sakura as she turned on the light. Sasuke sat weakly on the couch with his hand tightly covering wound on his side. The pressure wasn't helping the flow of blood as it continued to seep through his clothing. Sakura rushed to get a medical aid kit while Sasuke continued to press the wound.

When Sakura came back, she kneeled on the floor and pleaded with him to show her the wound but to no avail. "Please Sasuke, let me have a look! You're not helping the wound by applying pressure to it!" Still, Sasuke didn't budge. Beads of sweat were running down his face as he grimaced with the pain. "Get away from me!" he hissed.

"Fine! If you won't do it, then I will!" Sakura reached up and wrenched his hand away to reveal a ghastly puncture on his left side. "Damnit." Sakura looked over to see that Sasuke had lost consciousness, his ragged breathing had become even. His once handsome face was now full of scratches and contorted with pain. To make matters worse, a steady stream of blood was also making its way down the left side of his face.

With quivering hands, Sakura made the hand seals to try and heal the puncture wound. The amount of precise chakra was difficult to control since she was beside herself with worry. Come on, Sasuke needs help! I can't afford any mistakes now! Sakura scolded herself over and over again during the course of the hour when she managed to restore the tissue that had been damaged. Fortunately, the wound was now in stable condition and would restore itself in a matter of weeks.

Sakura sighed with relief but then noticed the gash to his head. She quickly bent over him to examine the wound. The blood still continued but was in a little trickle instead of the steady flow that had ensued at the beginning of the hour. Sakura silently cursed herself for being so careless as she gently swept his bangs to one side. With the little chakra she had left, she once again began to heal. After a short while though, her chakra supply was depleted so she proceeded to bandage up the rest with tools from the medical kit.

"Sasuke..." Sakura placed a cold cloth on his head to cool down his temperature. It had only been two hours since he came home but it seemed much longer to her. What had happened to him? Wasn't he just on an ordinary mission? Konoha was at peace now right? Who was responsible for hurting him so badly? And why wouldn't he…let her help him? So many questions were burning inside her but she'd lock them in, at least until he was well enough to talk about it.

She looked over to his face and found it peaceful again. Satisfied at his current condition, she sat down on the floor with her back resting against the couch. She pulled her knees up and wrapped her cold arms around them in search for some comfort. This had reminded her of a similar situation when they were younger. Sasuke had been in pain and she was there by his side all night, desperately praying for his well-being. So many problems sprang forth from that moment on. Sasuke became obsessed with revenge, resorting to many terrible alternatives with nothing but painful dead ends that awaited him. Through it all, she had been there waiting, forever clinging onto the hope that one day he would return home, return to his friends, return to her…

He was always the one to push those who cared about him away, always the one to suffer with all his burdens alone and the one whose stoic character had captured her heart all those years ago. When he was finally willing to let someone else into his life, she thought her prayers had been answered; that Sasuke was able to free himself from the bondage that had kept him in turmoil for so long. But that night, Sakura realized that it wasn't easy for him to break those old habits. Even now he was still pushing her away.

"Why, Sasuke?" Tears escaped and trickled down her face. Sakura buried her head in her arms to muffle the sounds of her crying. "What happened to you?"

Sasuke opened his eyes to see her back towards him, trembling and crying quietly. He gazed at her but did nothing more.


Sakura got up early. The sun still hadn't quite risen and Sasuke was still asleep next to her. It had been one week since he came home with those terrible wounds. Fortunately, Sasuke was granted "sick leave" and was refrained from any missions. This left a restless Sasuke with a relieved Sakura who left everyday for medical duties with the Hokage. This morning however, she was to be deployed as a part of an elite team whose job was to journey to the outskirts of Konoha where spies were said to have been located. It turned out that the "peace agreements" with the other countries had been only a front and the enemies had used the opportunity to their advantage. Luckily, the ANBU had gotten wind of the situation and had prevented a step in their plan before they could achieve whatever goal they had in mind.

Sakura got dressed quickly and clumsily double-checked her assignment to ensure that there were no mistakes. She too was a jounin but rarely went on missions so the case of nerves was expected. As soon as she was done, she adjusted her headband securely: the mark of a Konoha shinobi. Sakura began to make her way towards the door but stopped and quietly made her way back over to Sasuke whose form was breathing evenly. She smiled and brushed back his hair. His expression was peaceful and rather childish compared to the stern look he always carried while awake.

"You're as cute as ever, Sasuke-kun." She leaned downed and placed a tender kiss on his forehead. Moments passed as the sun began to creep its way over the horizon, shedding its soft morning light through the window and onto the couple. Sakura sighed, "I finally have the chance to see the sunrise with you." With that she left.


"Sasuke! Stop it! Damnit will you listen to me?"

"Don't let him come any closer! Somebody stop him!"

"Sasuke, please. No…"

Blinding lights were everywhere. Many hands were pushing Sasuke back but he was determined to see beyond the throng of people. The night was pitch black and cold. Through the flitting spots of light he could see the pattern of the rain as it beat down on the group of familiar ninjas. His puffs of breath were clouding his vision as he tried to see.

"Calm down! Sasuke, Sasuke!" For some reason, people kept trying to stop him from going on but he would never stop…never stop…never because…

"DAMNIT, SASUKE!" yelled a familiar voice as he felt strong arms clasp his own behind his back. Distracted, he whirled around only to come face to face with a pair of fierce blue eyes.

"Let me go, Naruto!"

"No, not until you calm down!"

"Just get out of my way! I won't stop!"

An eerie silence filled the next moments, which seemed like an eternity to Sasuke. He needed to go on, to continue and see. He was determined to stare into the penetrating blue of his best friend's eyes. Silently pleading with him to let go. Slowly, the iron-grip released as the two stood there soaked with the onslaught of the rain.

"Naruto what-?"

"Stop it." Naruto stepped back and looked to the ground that was strewn with kunai, shuriken and blood.

"What did you say?"

"Let him go!" snarled Naruto as he retreated away from Sasuke. "Leave him alone!" Reluctantly obeying Naruto's order, everyone dispersed slowly until finally it was only the two.

"Here." Naruto threw him a flashlight and disappeared into the darkness.

Sasuke slowly reached for the switch with trembling hands as he continued straight into the darkness with nothing but a feeble source of light to guide him. But he persevered because he wanted, needed to see, to stop it all…and to say goodbye.

After what seemed like hours of desperately stumbling through the swirling darkness, with the sound of heavy rain mingling with his heartbeat, with thoughts of the future and regrets of the past flashing through his mind, he finally faltered and fell to his knees. He lost his grip with the flashlight on impact and frantically splashed through the mud to find it. What he found instead was a cold hand, a soft one that he had familiarized himself with for three years.

"No…" he whispered as he scrambled over to the body. Her scent. It was unmistakable. It was Sakura's.


E/N: Wow, that was longer than I had intended. Well, speaking of inspiration, I would like to thank two authors who gave me the idea for the whole marriage ordeal. One is Sharingan Sasuke who wrote "Frozen" and the second is Dr. Brief Cat who wrote "The Uchiha Restoration" If you don't know those fics, go check them out!