A/N: Hello after watching a few episodes and reading a few fanfics, i was inspired with this story! This is just a prologue to get the story started, basically describing the night Sasuke left Konoha. So it's a totally skippable prologue.
Behind The Smile
Prologue: What I Need
Take only what you need.
His deep, emotionless obsidian eyes transitioned to gaze upon the picture frame idly standing on his glossy wooden dresser. It's vivid, lively colors acted as a counterbalance to the white, plain, bleak colors of his near empty, spacious room. The glass protecting the picture beneath seemed to gleam with the glare of the cratered moon, it's rays of moonlight peaking in through the wide, un-curtained window behind him.
It held a picture of Team seven.
Kakashi, their enigmatic sensei, was standing behind his three students, each hand positioned on the heads of Sasuke and Naruto. As always, his face was partly covered by the added aticle of his uniform, though it did nothing to hide nor hinder warm smile that outlined on the surface. His eyes were closed with glee, his spiky, silver-colored hair shining with a glimmer.
Uzumaki Naruto's blonde hair, spiked and tumbled everywhere due to the hand smothering it. He still had on a cheery, chump-like smile, his deep cerulean eyes twinkling with excitement as he outstretched his hand with a thumbs-up towards the camera.
His thoughts deepened as he gazed at the shinobi who had become like a brother to him, his best friend. He wasn't as prideful to deny it, not now, not anymore. He had always detested it, how the same cheery attribute had almost always stayed intact throughout the years - that strong perserverance, unbending will and determination, even through all and every kind of hardship, tragedy. He had never met anyone who was more courageous than the village-acclaimed number one loudest shinobi. He had never met anyone in their generation that was even stronger than him, in every single way, and it was that alone that was insanely frustrating. Right now, as he was, Naruto was stronger than him. He had always wondered why, and he had always wondered how.
But one thing that was apparent, concrete, known, was that it would not remain that way for long.
Still gaze had found himself in the picture; his arms were crossed over his torso as a frown founded his face - it seemed to have been a result of the unexpected hand smothering his head. His eyes , however, even as they harbored an annoyance, gleamed with amusement, one rarely seen.
The days used to be so simple. He had thought that he had found a position in his life where he could be sane, where he could find that small bit of happiness that had consantly avoided him. And he had been wrong. The call for power, for vengeance had begun to gnaw at him like a starving, insatiable hunger. And he could no longer continue to play house with the people who had created a home for him.
He had chosen to focus on her last.
Inbetween he and Naruto she stood, Haruno Sakura, her pink hair both unusual and unmistakable; a bright smile, ear to ear, decorated her porcelain-like face. Her beautifully large, emerald gaze sparkled with joy, with happiness. He hadn't seen her like that, for a long time now. It seemed to come from her growing knowledge, growing awareness that home she sought to offer him, to offer everybody wasn't enough - he knew with each passing day how she grew more depressed at sight of their peaceful worlds collapsing. There were those days where she seemed completley lost. She would argue with that, saying that she smiled everyday; and, she did, but, not like that, not like this, not anymore. There would be nothing in her smile but true happiness, glee. All of the qualities of her appearance would become lively prominent, leaving nothing he could find to criticize without lying.
Now, there would be nothing in her smile, nothing at all. And everything, behind it. Her smiles were no longer of joy, but of masking; it was behind that smile, behind her smile, where all her harbored, hidden emotions lie. Her pain, her own suffering, sadness. Behind everybody's.
How did he know?
How could he not? He spent nearly everyday with this teammate of his. Learned her habits, learned her reactions, learned her thought process. It didn't mean anything that he knew these things, it didn't imply that he cared. Just that he, as well as Naruto, knew her well enough to see when she was unhappy, when she was hiding something, when she was planning action. Naruto was further along in figuring her out than him, knowing exactly what type of punch she would use and with what force upon striking him, mostly likely because he had seen her wrath on more than once action, and grown accostumed to it. They all had. It was those little quirks that made her, Sakura.
The strongest kunoichi he knew. Maybe not when it came to show of physical strength, or jutstu prowess, but, control, will, pain tolerance, perseverance. And most of all, emotional control, stability. He should know, with the number of times he continously took blows to her emotions with his natural tedencies to shoot down her aspirations. He had no desire to even begin to count the number of times he had let her down, however, he knew that he didn't want it to happen anymore, at the same time that he knew it would.
The image of her hopeful, yet rejectiong-assuming gaze looking up at him seemed to be imprinted in his mind forever. As well as the brief moment when here eyes would shimmer with tears, only for her quick, retaliating smile to appear instantly. He would always remember the way her dismissal of her own emotions would make him feel. And he hated it.
A ninja was taught at a young age to keep a reign on their emotions, to hide, control their feelings. Because they were unnecesary, because as tools, they only needed to know how to fight, to protect. They were to show no emotion in any situation. It was a rule, a code. And Sakura abided by it well.
And maybe it was because of the growing knowledge and acceptance of the code that things had been different. They used to be traveling the same path, once, in a time that was past. Now, everything had changed. She had changed, Naruto had changed, he had changed. Everyone around them had changed, times had changed. They couldn't waste anymore time dilly dallying in the safe haven of ignorance.
He couldn't waste anymore time staying where he didn't belong, where he couldn't grow, where he couldn't completle his life's goals, free himself.
With a small, barely discernible release of breath, the Uchiha lowered the picture frame to rest, face down on the dresser before he casually moved to his bed, swinging the small pack to his backside; he then traveled to his opened window- he placed a foot up on the seal, the same leg bending in preparation for the leap. He took one last glance at the room behind him before jumping out of the window, and into the darkness of the night.
The stillness of the night was quite unusual as the only occasional sound was the rustling of the trees as the slight breeze would pick up, only to fall once more. The rays from the moon splayed over the cobble-stoned road, splashed against her porecelain-like skin - producing a slight translucent look to her; the same moonlight pronounced her glossed over, dull, emerald gaze, downcast in its fixation.
She sat on the same, old concrete bench, no movement shifting her in any way, no thought prevailing her mind. The serene, stoic way she held herself in that moment, the way her face seemed peaceful, would have fooled all who would pass, tricked them to the deep turmoil coursing throughout everything that she was, gnawing at her insides.
Bated fear. Feared Isolation. Expected endings. Prepared goodbyes.
Is that what they called it…? What he called it…?
Her emerald gaze transitioned upwards towards the star-filled night sky, focusing on the full moon that seemed ever prominent amidst the stars, even while a few clouds slowly scuttered across its surface.
Her movement wasn't sudden, instead casual, slow as she let her gaze drop back down and move slightly to look a small distance at her side; she focused of the form of the raven-haired boy traveling towards her, hands sheltered in his pockets. He looked as if he were taking a stroll - his steps slow, calm. Her eyes also discovered the small bad mounted on his back, as if it was expected - there was no apparent change in her morbid gaze. It was only when he neared closer did she slowly stand up, slightly moving away from the concrete bench she had been occupying. She did nothing to hide the saddened look in her emerald eyes, however everything to keep her entire countenance calm.
Sasuke did not bring his gaze to glance at her, his obsidian orbs were focused ahead, to the path in front of him, forward, where his goals lie. He continued his casual steps, walking past her, ignoring the wave of despair that radiated from her calmly held countenance. When he was distanced a few paces ahead of her, he halted, leaving his back - neatly decorated with the Uchiha clan symbol, to face her.
He had expected this. He had expected not being able to leave without a goodbye.
"It's late."He started, voice flat. "Why are you out?" His inquiry was as impassive, demanding, even as he knew the answer.
She hadn't turned around to look at her, her back faced him just as his did her. She kept herself together, her strong gaze focused ahead of her. It was as if he was looking towards the future, while she continued to look towards the past. None were willing to stay in the time that was present, the times where things had become so wrong.
"If you follow this road.." She started, his voice calm, strong. "..it leads outside of Konoha…" She still didn't turn to look at the Uchiha, daring him to answer to question, knowing he would not. "Are you leaving?" Her inquiry was soft, near emotionless, even as the first wetness started to shine her eyes, making the reflection of the night moon flicker, as if trapped in her gaze.
She had expected this, knew he would try to leave quietly. Leave without saying goodbye. She didn't expect him to tell her why, because they both knew she already knew the answer. She was tired of playing house as well.
"You should go back to sleep." He suggested this flat command, saying it without knowing she hadn't slept at all the past few days - it had been habitual, her coming to this place, not knowing when it was he would decide to take his departure. There would be no retirement for the night, not now. There would be no peaceful sleep, no dreams - only restlessness, an empty void, isolation.
It seemed this meeting did not faze him, however unexpected it may have seemed. It seemed this meeting did to faze her, however much was on the line.
She did nothing at first, her head only slightly rising as her ears listened to the sound of his soft footfalls. The small, grim smile that traced her lips signaled the moment she brought her head and gaze downcast; before slowly turning her body to face his retreating back. Her glimmering, accepting gaze had traveled along the cobble-stoned road until they found his feet, slowly traveling up to take in his whole figure - the insignia of the Uchiha clan appeared prominent among the dark blue of his upper clothing, it's red rivaling that of the Sharingan, it's white speaking of purity.
This image, right here, of his back, him walking away, it brought back memories. Memories of when she always used to do just that, watch Sasuke's back. Watch Naruto's back. Left behind as they continued to grow stronger, and her weaker. As they continued to laugh, and she cry.
"Why?" A question for everything. A plea for an answer.
It was what made Sasuke stop in his footsteps once again.
"Why do you always stay so quiet, never really saying a single word to me?" They had known each other, yet time didn't seem to matter. Memories didn't seem to matter, all of the ups and downs didn't seem to matter. Nothing seemed to matter in the face of influencing his actions towards her. "When I offer help, you never take it."
"I told you," He started, deep obsidian gaze still focused ahead. "Talking about why I do anything is pointless.. I don't need you. Don't try to look after me."
At his brunt words, she smiled. A smile to hold all, a smile to hide all.
"No matter what, you just always hate me, don't you…?"She paused for a while, as sad amusement crept into her smile, acception creeped into hopeless gaze. "You remember don't you? When we became Genin, the day when our three-man team was first decided. The first time we were here all by ourselves, you were so mad at me…you already hated me." Her voice held a slight tone of amusement in it's softness.
"You can't even begin compare it to the level of where your parents get mad at you,"
"What's the matter?"
It took a while before Sasuke replied, as if he was reliving the memory as well.
"I don't remember that."
She expected him to say that. She expected him to completley dissmiss her words, her thoughts, her feelings, everything about her, like he always did. And when it seemed her lip had trembled, it stop, and her sad smile blossomed once again; she had breifly tilted her head upwards, watering gaze holding the sky in their depths. She had forced a small, soft, chastising laugh.
"Yeah, I guess you're right..that's all in the past, neh?" She placed her hands behind her back, lacing them together as if cheerful, her gaze still up in the starry sky. "That's when it all began though. You and me… along with Naruto and Kakashi-sensei…" Sakura smile turned into a grin. "We did all sorts of missions, just the four of us. It was difficult at times… though… I still enjoyed it." She had paused after that last phrase, as if contemplating her next words, hesitating in her resolve, pondering her reservations.
It was then that he gaze traveled to him.
"I know all about your past Sasuke. What you plan to do.." He voice was calm, though there was a hint of warning - it was her first plea. "Even if you do get your revenge ... it won't bring anyone happiness. Not even you." She said this last part quietly, and as her heart dared, she added her last words. "..Nor me."
"I already know…" He almost interrupted her with his abrupt response. He hadn't once lost that cool monotone note to his voice, icy, flat. "However I can't just sit and watch as my life flows by me. And I can't pretend that everything is fine, simply forget all that I have strived for.. In a world where nightmares have become your goals, your foundation, there is no such thing as happiness. I have no dreams, I have no hopes, nor aspirations. Only a purpose. Nothing else matters."
She didn't know what to say to his words, she didn't know how to qualm the pounding of her heart, the way it reached out for him, for the way he was forced to live, to suffer. What was she supposed to say, when words couldn't make it better?
"Just as I thought…" He seemed to have expected her silence, though held reservation that she would know what to say. Understand him. She only proved him right when she didn't. She didn't understand him, no one did. And no one ever would.
Her eyes slightly widened as they fixated on him, listened to his words. She felt his dissapointment, yet indifferent acceptance beating at her core.
"I'm different from you guys. I walk a different path... I tried to think it was my path to do the things we have done up until now…that in it I could find a way to share the joy that you all had, let it heal me, forget my memories. The four of us had many experiences together, and for once in my life, I found a small glimpse of something, of hope..and as soon as it had come, it had gone... it looks like my heart decided on revenge in the end." His eyes glimmered with determination, even regret. "That's my purpose in life…" He had seemed to pause before he finished his words. "..I'll never be like you or Naruto."
It was then that the first tear rolled down her cheek.
"Are you really going to choose to be alone again?" Memories flashed her mind, his fear, his acceptance of solitude and suffering was unbearble to her. "On that day, you taught me that solitude is painful!" Her tears had started to come consistently now, her calm had left her, desperation replaced.
Sasuke seemed to still at her words.
"I understand that so well right now…" Her voice shook with her admittance as her fists slightly clenched, more tears dropping to the stones beneath her. "I have a family, and I have friends, but.. Sasuke-kun... if you're gone…" The cry in her voice was unmistakable. She squeezed the clothing where her heart was, no longer able to control the heartache, still her voice. "To me… it'll be the same as being alone!"
He heard her words, he really did. But he dissmissed them. He had nothing to say to that. Even as he understood how you could be surrounded by people you care for, that care for you, but still feel alone. What he didn't understand was how she held him so high, how he made that much of a difference. It was all petty, childish.
An image of Sakura and Naruto appeared in Sasuke's mind, his gaze seemed to harden with finality.
"From here on out… a new path will open for all of us." He started his footsteps once again.
She had started to tremble, as she watched him walk away from her, again, her eyes wavering as they continued to watch his back. He was getting closer and closer to dissapearing from her life. And fear turned to desperation. She had squeezed her eyes shut, took a deap breath. she was trying to restrain herself, control the swell of emotions, keep them from bursting - she was unsuccessful. She had nothing to lose, not anymore. She couldn't turn back now.
"I love you so much!" She had clenched her fists together as hard as she could as she held them above her heart, not daring to look at him. She could feel it as he stopped, again, and it made the tears come out faster, in greater amounts. "If you stay with me… I'll make sure you won't regret it! Everyday we'll do something fun, we'll definitely be happy… I swear it! I would do anything for you!" It was only then that she was able to reveal her shimmering emerald eyes, focusing on him once again. "Please, stay here with me… with us." She wasn't just pleading for her, she was pleading for Naruto, for Kakashi-sensei.
She watched as Sasuke slightly tilted his head up, as if he were staring up at the sky. He still said nothing.
"I'll even help you with your revenge… I don't know what I could do… but, I'll try my best to do something…" She paused trying to hold back her sobs. "So please… stay with me… or if you can't stay here… please take me you… I don't know what I could do, but…please…" Her whole body ached to go with him.
There was an eerie silence as she was finished with her plea, waiting for his answer, waiting for his response. She had just poured out her heart to him. And she expected no good to come from it, even as she hoped for it.
"You know.." He started. His voice was surprisingly soft, as if her words had almost touched him. She watched as he lowered his head downwards, she could only assume he had closed his eyes with the subtle release of breath - his breath had been released with a sound of amusement, almost disbelief, acceptance.
His head turned to her, he looked over his shoulder; his gaze found hers, her gaze surprisingly studied his. Saw the slight regret, compassion. It was gone as soon as it had come. It was an instance, this moment brief, she had almost forgot to listen when she saw his lips part.
"You really are annoying." This last part was spoken flatly, not containing once single trace of emotion, nor intended insult. It's what he would always say to her. Leave it to him to now change his actions, no matter what the situation.
She had almost choked on her surprise as she watched him look back ahead of himself, and continue walking. As if her earlier words had left him unfazed. He had shot her down like she was nothing, without a second thought. she had no way to get to him with her words. She had no way to keep him here, without doing something drastic, without doing something that would make him stay for other reasons.
Her desperation bordered insanity.
"Don't leave! If you do, I'll scream!" She meant it. Even before his answer to that, she had expected him to stop, she had expected him to stay something to her like she'd regret it if she did, or that he would stay. She was naiive. And she was surprised, when he instantly vanished from her view.
She had frozen completley, her eyes wide, tears still streaming as she felt the disturbance in the air, the ushering of the leaves as they seemed to vibrate with the sudden presence - as her own skin tingled with the anticipation of this disturbance. She felt his body heat, smelt his forresty scent as he appeared behind her. She could do nothing, but wait, stand there in that split moment, feel him, hear him.
"Sakura.." His voice was surprisingly soft, she could feel his breath tickling the back of her neck, his eyes burning ahead, to the area in front of them, that she was looking at as well, the future. "Thank you.." His whisper ushered into her mind, cooled her burning senses, broke her fragmenting heart - she could feel it, as everything around her started to fade. As the sudden jolt racked her insides, heavied her eyes lids.
She felt it all drifting away. She saw no more of her past, lived no more of her present. There would only be that one whisper of a promise, the fluttering of wings, in a place that was only called the future. There was nothing else, there was no feeling, there was no sensation, there was no thought. Only one word. One person.
Thanks for Reading!
Yeah, probably not the best start for a story, with the typically used scene from the series, though uhh, all I can say is, there's more? Stay tuned? Have hope? The story continutes, after all.