It suddenly rained that day.
Earlier, the weather had been nice and warm. There were massive fluffy clouds and cerulean skies. Villagers enjoyed the clear sky and sunshine. But night came and it began to rain. Puzzled at the sudden change, villagers looked outside their windows, comfortable at the warmth provided by their pillows, sofas and pillows.
However, in front of the large gates of Konohagakure, a girl stood in the rain
(sound of pouring rain is so sad…)
unprotected. Deliberately, she left her umbrella.
Her thin body shuddered under the onslaught of icy raindrops.
And I thought… her pink hair covered the upper half of her pale face, hiding her eyes. Naruto would understand.
As she lifted her face, her eyes came in view with raindrops hanging from her long thin lashes. They blinked slowly and the drops broke and rolled. Briefly, she closed her eyes and suppressed a sneeze.
(but the sneeze came anyway,)
and she covered her nose as she did.
She sighed, pulling at her bangs.
The shade of her thick pink hair became darker, sticking together as rain soaked the locks. She lifted a pale hand —trembling and small— to brush the hair off her eyes. In closer inspection, her skin was covered in goosebumps.
Pitiful. (yes, yes…) Against the fierce winds, her body swayed and shuddered. They lashed at her angrily, like whips, hitting her in shaking intensity. Blinking rapidly, she tried to stare up to the grieving sky.
Such a lonely day to leave…
Uncalled, tears gathered in the corner of her eyes. Sensing them, the girl held her breath as if in holding her breath would help her stop the tears. But the tears came, anyway. And as they flowed, they mingled with rain. She remained looking up, trying to find a sliver of hope up there but she saw nothing. Nothing but the rain.
Falling and falling and falling (forever? maybe, like the air? Maybe…)
and falling and falling—
Finally, she looked down and wiped her eyes. Her body gave a violent shiver and she realized… It was a cruel day, cruel weather, cruel, cruel world— not even stopping from spinning, uncaring for individual intentions. It never stopped to slow down, to care… to stop spinning round and round, round. The world would not stop for her. Slow down… for me. But she stood on her ground, refusing to look back and return to the warm comfort of her apartment.
I can do this! She mentally made a fist. I can… DO THIS! I can live on my own. I can live far away from Konoha.
She bit her lower lip. I won't back out…
Determinedly,she bit back a sob, clenching her trembling fists. She refused to acknowledge that, yet again… tears appeared, rolled down and lingered at her chin. Another bead followed. Another… and another, until they became unstoppable.
"Stop." She whispered, wiping her face.
I'll be stronger for myself… I will survive.
With that resolve, she put a hand on the gate and began to push. The gap was enough for her body to come through. One step and she will be out of Konoha. One more, and she's free… two more and she's… out of that life. Out of his life.
Like he wanted.
She paused to contemplate.
She made one more step.
She stopped in mid-step.
"Where are you going?"
Her breath caught and froze.
Her grip on her resolve tightened.
But suddenly, he asked.
"Are you running away from me?"
The grip trembled. And almost crumble…
She swallowed painfully, looked over her shoulder with her chin lifted defiantly.
"No." She tried to sound casual. She even tried to smile which failed. Her jaw was trembling.
"Then, where are you going?"
She shrugged. Oh, how hard it was to pretend. She cannot trust her throat to work and say coherent things. She feared that something might come out and injure her brittle pride. But she endured and strengthened her resolve.
"Were you ordered to go?"
She swallowed first. "No."
The way he say her name confused her. A feeling of painful sadness consumed her. Wet lashes lowered over green irises as she spoke softly. "I have to go."
Something went wrong. Because she faltered. Because he touched her.
Her bag fell from her grasp.
Her composure shook and eventually crumbled.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!" she shrieked and staggered back clumsily. Her defenses were shattered and her tears were exposed to him.
Great. His expression did not even shift, move… or whatnot. So cruel. This person had the cruel ability to hurt her without even trying.
She lifted a hand, palm facing him as he stepped forward. "Stop. Please." She whispered.
Sasuke stopped, looking at her grimly.
"Where are you going?" when she did not reply, the boy exhaled sharply. "It's late. And cold. Go home."
"We have a mission tomorrow. Don't get sick. The team requires a medic-nin."
She bit her lip and reached down to her duffel. Turning to the gap between the enormous gates, she chose to say quiet. Behind her Sasuke scowled. "Sakura—"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
She shrugged. Outside, she was fast becoming composed. However, inside… she was melting. Like a candle. Pain can really change people. However, she promised herself, I'd keep smiling. Not for him, but for myself.
"Nothing that concerns you."
A hand in a seal lifted.
"Sakura— no, wait."
Her eyes flinched when he grabbed her hand with both of his. The feel of his skin startled her. Unknowingly, she recoiled at the contact, visibly wincing.
"Sasuke-san," she forced out, "go home."
"I have to tell you something."
She shook her head; wet short wavy bangs covered her one eye. "No. I have to go…"
The grip on her hands tightened. "Sakura, this is important."
Her resolve… what happened to her resolve? Squaring her shoulders, she looked at him straight in the eye and hardened her face. "I don't care! Let me go!" she tugged at her hand but Sasuke did not let go.
"Sakura, if you really want to leave. I won't stop you."
"Then, why are you here?" She made a big mistake. She looked at his face. His expression was hard, grave. A squeezing pain numbed her heart, twisted her gut and again, a feeling of intense loneliness filled her being. It was…painful.
She tried to ignored it.
Sasuke frowned, then sighed.
"I have to tell you something."
A flicker of anger flashed in his eyes. "Don't call me that."
"Leave me alone!" she demanded, pulling her hand. "Let… GO!"
"Not until you hear me out."
"You are so selfish! Cannot you tell that I don't want to listen?!" she managed to free her hand and hurriedly turned to face the gates. Sasuke grabbed her shoulder and forced her to face him.
"Damn it! This is important!" he had yelled, shocking her.
She backed away slowly. Sasuke never yelled at her even when she's at her best of annoying him. "I told you… I don't care."
He sighed, almost frustrated. "You're… annoying."
Her eyes cringed and almost automatically, tears gathered shamelessly. She lowered her lids slowly and a minute of soulful silence passed between the two.
"…goodbye." Her voice came soft, so soft… that she doubted he heard her.
He did, because his grip on her shoulder tightened, his fingers digging onto the flesh of her shoulder, "Why don't you even listen to me?"
Tears cascaded. With every second ticking by, the tears fell harder and faster, just like the downpour.
"Sakura! Listen to me—"
She lifted her face and smiled tearfully.
"I can't stay."
Her vision was blurred by tears that she cannot see his face anymore. And maybe, she chose to be blinded just for a moment.
"I can't stay… not anymore."
She blinked and her vision cleared.
Handsome face, a pale beauty. Dark eyes, dark wet hair. An unforgettable face… a face that she will never forget.
And then, Sasuke's voice.
You said you love me
…wait for me.
I'll be back
Someday you'll see
As long as we breathe the same air
Under the same sky
Under the clouds of our dreams
Don't let go.
7 years later.
A young woman with long pink hair stood in front of the two-door gate of Konohagakure. She was looking up wistfully, a soft smile on her face. The wind toyed with pink strands, lifting them in the air sideways, slightly covering her eyes. For a moment, she looked like a mirage with her flowing pink hair that looked like strings of cherry petals.
"Welcome home…" She cleared the locks off her eyes with a soft jerk of her chin. Green eyes— a startling shade that contrasted with the darkness of her thick lashes— flickered. "…to myself."
It was spring and as expected, Konohagakure was very green and leafy. As she steeped into the village, startling two ninjas on duty at the gate, she looked around and started to grin. It had not changed in years. If it did, the infrastructures were better and some buildings had sprouted out from the ground previously vacant. Homesick, she began to walk around, stopping only to watch children play tag in the parks, lavishly decorated with enormous Sakura trees, see-saws and swings. The surrounding air was littered with petals and leaves.
"Hey! Excuse me!" a voice called out.
She turned to her right.
Soccer ball met her stomach.
With a gasp, she doubled up. Pink hair tumbled forward, covering her face. I'm a Jounin, a topnotch illusionist and hey, I can punch like some demented rhinoceros! But I got hit by a soccer ball. What a shame… she thought with a sigh. My skills are deteriorating?
"Oh no! Gomen nasai! GOMEN NASAI, MISS!" a female high-pitched voice said.
She heard frantic running footsteps toward her.
"What happened?" a deep baritone voice asked.
There was a squeal. "Otou-san, I hit her with my soccer ball…" the little voice said sadly.
"What?" She heard the girl's father sighed. "Excuse me, are you—" the voice stopped abruptly.
"I'm fine." She said with a shrug, rubbing her stomach. Her hair was over her face, only her mouth was visible under the locks of pink. "I'm clumsy sometimes… so, it's okay."
The little girl stepped forward to her. "Miss, I'm really so sorry—"
"It's okay!" She looked down to the girl's face and smiled. So cute… The little girl had chin-length straight dark hair with even bangs and large blue eyes. "Stop looking so worried." She gave a grin and tapped the little girl's head. The girl blushed and smiled shyly. "It's an accident. And—" she looked up to reassure the girl's father that it was alright but her voice died in her throat.
Green eyes met black.
She felt her stomach clench.
Uchiha Sasuke, in all his glory, stood in front of her. Back then, seven years ago, he was already tall and intimidating. His frightening character doubled, and his beauty… his dark, porcelain perfection remained imposing.
As usual, his expression was grave. And for a moment, she was frightened that he was going to hit her. Unconsciously, she was backing away. Their last encounter was not very pretty. If she remembered it correctly, she had run away from him, vanishing in front of him into thin air while he told her to stay for he had something IMPORTANT to say.
But she did not listen. Looking closer, it looked like he remembered it too.
He cleared his throat, "Hn." he said flatly.
"You're…" he paused and frowned. Another clearing of throat. "You came back." His voice was deep, almost a rumble to her ears.
He shrugged faintly. "After seven years."
She forced a smile. The lump on her throat, she ignored. "Yes…" she said softly.
The little girl tugged at his sleeve. "Otou-san, you know her?"
Her eyes widened slightly. Otou-san…?
Sasuke looked somber. "Yes."
The dak-haired girl turned to her. "Are you friends with Otou-san?"
Briefly, she looked at him then back to the little girl. "Yes. We were teammates back when we were Genins."
"Wow! Amazing! So my father has a very pretty friend!"
The breeze pushed a thick lock of hair on her face. She scratched her cheek. "Oh, thanks…" she chuckled, a flush coloring her pale cheeks.
The little girl continued to gaze up at her in admiration. "Wow, you're so beautiful! You're beautiful just like my father."
She gave an uncomfortable smile.
"…just like my father…"
Again, she ignored the painful twinge on her chest.
"And your hair, so wow! It is really pink… like Cherry Blossoms!" the child turned to her father. "Ooh, Father, she's very beautiful, like your favorite tree! A beautiful Cherry Blossoms…"
She stared and mechanically looked up to Sasuke who watched Cherry Blossoms from the distance. Confusion occupied her face. Sasuke's favorite tree was a Cherry Blossoms? Strange… but then, she knew so little about him. He was the type of person who kept to himself, with massive walls around him, pushing her away, pushing them away.
But of all the trees he could like the best, why this particular tree which she was named after?
She cleared her throat. "Your… daughter," slowly, his grave dark eyes shifted toward her and she felt her heart jerked. She swallowed hard and tried to smile in a way as if there was nothing sort of affinity between them. "…is a flatterer."
Sasuke looked away and snorted softly, "Hn."
She looked down to the grinning little girl. "What's your name, little miss?"
The girl smiled and looked up to her stoic father.
"I was named after my father's first and only love."
Uchiha remained silent, choosing to watch pink petals fall from a nearby tree. The little girl returned her gaze to the woman, gave her a big smile and said,
"Pleased to meet you! I am Sakura!"