AN: Omfg guuuuuuuyzzzzzz…this fic was really more of an experiment than anything else. I've been playing around with this writing style for a while, wondering if it would jive well with what I'm used to, because when it's well done it's fecking amazing to read. (I'm not claiming I did it well, either. I'm only saying.) I think the rambling, incoherent sort of feel lends itself brilliantly to a keen sense of desperation…or something.

I like it.

Except that it's all rambly and incoherent and stabs several important grammar rules a few thousand times.



DisclaimerIf I owned it, Sasuke and Naruto would sex it up all the time and there'd be no plot.

They're probably wise to keep me well away from the rights.


And the way she looks at him, as if she expects him to help, as if she knows he will, nearly drives him over the edge.

Her eyes are large and round and green and they haven't changed at all, but the expression and the strength behind them have. And she has. It's been four long years and she's a woman now, ready in this world of war and blood and death to begin having children, and she's all smooth skin and long legs and enticing curves. But she's more than that, too, because she's a ninja, one of the finest after long years under the tutelage of Godaime Hokage, and he can see (being a ninja himself) that she's also corded, lean muscle and latent, impossible power.

And she loved him or was infatuated with him or at least girlishly attracted to him four years ago, but the way that she's looking at him now speaks not of love or tenderness but of quiet expectancy and grim determination. He's looking at her and he knows that she still cares for him, that maybe she even still loves him, but he can't see it in her eyes, can't detect it in the taut set of her body, can't feel it in the thick, tense atmosphere suspended nigh palpably between them. He knows she cares because she refused to kill him when she had the chance, right after Naruto had finished off Kabuto and then somehow Orochimaru in the very next instant, when he'd taken advantage of Naruto's preoccupations and blind-sided him with an attack that left him bleeding and broken and tragically heroic before her. He knows she may still love him because he had thrown everything into that attack, and was now almost sapped, almost broken himself, and she knew, and he was still alive and she was still offering him her hand expectantly, not smiling and with hardly anything encouraging in her large, green eyes.

He's struggled for four long years to best Naruto, has waited even longer than that to feel such raw and limitless power course through his veins, and he is disappointed and sad and angry that all he feels now, at the moment of his victory, is a hollow despair. Because once he'd vowed to make his own way to power, one that did not include Naruto's death, and he is discovering that four years had apparently not changed this resolve. He doesn't want Naruto to die, doesn't want him to lose so much blood that his skin becomes as pale as Kabuto's hair, doesn't want him to wheeze and have to fight to suck in breaths of air. He hates himself for what he's done, and he has no idea why he's done it and he's sure that when he attacked he'd been expecting –hoping—that Naruto had become so unimaginably powerful, so unbelievably strong and capable, that he'd have anticipated the attack and knocked him back and laughed and called him a bastard and demanded to know what the hell Sasuke'd been doing all these years if he still couldn't beat the dobe!

But Naruto is bleeding and wheezing and coughing and dying and he's staring down at Sakura's hand like it it's his older brother. And her eyes are large and green and full of tenacity, and she'd been fighting, too and is weaker now, and she needs his help, his chakra, his energy, to sustain her and help her to make everything right again. He's right there on the edge, nearly insane with the weight of many years and several ponderous decisions and new, crushing uncertainty, and the way she's looking at him, as if she expects him to help, as if she knows he will, nearly drives him over it. But even as he's trying to resent her faith in him, or whatever misplaced confidence she has in mind that makes her so sure he'll help, he knows he wants Naruto's forgiveness. And he knows he wants her to stop looking at him like that, as if he's a petulant child and she's the waiting mother who ultimately and invariably wins the argument, so even as he's cursing her he's bending, reaching out to her, and he almost hesitates but doesn't because he knows this is right, that this is what he wants.

And then she's smiling at him and he's confused because she has no reason and no right to smile at him after everything he's done, but there's compassion in her large, green eyes anyway, and for a minute he wants to jerk his hand away from hers, because it's small and soft and warm and she's reacting exactly as she should be, and it isn't fair because she's supposed to hate him. But then she's turned away from him and now she's touching Naruto, too, and she's suddenly become the conduit between the two of them, as much as she has simultaneously always been, but she's more than that now, because she's also a part of him, a part of Naruto, and they were a team, are a team—have never stopped being a team, and he feels a rush, a prickle as she starts channeling his chakra through her and into Naruto and for an eternity encased in an instant they are one being and there is nothing to separate him from the feeling of Sakura's fingers, petal soft against his coarse hand.

He has no thoughts of going home, because he can't, but he remembers what it feels like to be home when she squeezes his hand and releases it and smiles again, the way she did when they were twelve, brightly, effervescently, carefree. And then he's smiling, too, and doesn't think to stop himself, because it's been four long years and he's twelve years old and he needs his revenge just as savagely but it doesn't matter now because Sakura's smiling and she hasn't forgiven him but he knows she will, and so will Naruto.

Because Naruto lives.

Le fin.