Little Piece of Heaven
"I don't think I'll need to stay long, Sasuke. I just need to remove the last of your stitches and then you can get rid of me!" Sakura quipped in her attempt to sound cheerful.
"Fine," Sasuke snapped as he slammed the washroom door behind him.
Stunned at the amount of resentment in his voice, Sakura could only shift her feet nervously in the entryway of his house. Over the years she had adjusted herself to Sasuke's behavior quite well. Sort of. This line of defence was weak at best, but present enough to deflect the brunt of his offhanded, careless remarks. When Uchiha Sasuke acted the way most people do when pissed off, it usually meant he was in a considerably good mood. But, after speaking briefly about Neji, their walk to his house revealed a truly ticked off avenger, which can be almost unimaginable given how his persona is naturally soaked in bitter acrimony.
During their walk, Sakura had timidly tapped Sasuke on the shoulder after he had ruthlessly kicked a crate out of his path.
"What's going on with you?" she asked cautiously.
"Sasuke," she began with all sincerity "if something's bothering you, you can tell—"
"Why do I have to tell you anything?"
He turned away, seemingly disgusted, and she didn't say anything else. Why linger in a war path.
Sakura's bright green eyes fell in memory of the last sentence spoken before entering his house. Sasuke wouldn't open up to her, and didn't see why he should in the first place. Yes that stung. How hurtful it had been to learn that the past month they spent together was meaningless. Watching the soft glow of light flicker from under the washroom door, her hand flew instinctively to her chest as something went off inside. She clutched at the skin over her heart, flinching as something painful, something lost and forgotten, was momentarily brought to life.
"Why…? You never said a word to any of us! Why didn't you tell me?"
"Why do I have to tell you anything? Mind your own damn business and leave me alone."
She released a deep breath, letting the sharp pain in her chest subside. It would seem that no matter how hard she trained herself, and no matter how hard she convinced herself, complete and total convalescence was not made for the broken-hearted.
Leaning against the wall behind her, Sakura clutched her arms. Repress, bury, hide… anything. None of it could exist. Nothing was worth keeping. There was no point. There was never any point.
Her gaze locked hesitantly to where Sasuke stood before her. Having been lost in her own thoughts, she didn't even hear him come out of the washroom.
She regarded him passively, a defence mechanism, waiting for whatever snarky remark he had up his sleeve next. He had pushed Sakura pretty close to an emotional edge. Just a bit more, she challenged tiredly, then bam! She'd kick the Uchiha square between the legs. Let him resurrect his clan then.
"What I said earlier," he mumbled stiffly, "I was angry about something else."
Wait, what? How long had Sasuke been in the washroom? Was this an attempted apology? She tilted her head in bewilderment. Was Sasuke actually there, or had she suddenly gone delirious…?
"There was just no point in talking about it, so…"
Delirious. Or the world was ending. Or pigs were flying. Or Naruto ate salad.
He paused to frown at her initial reaction. "What. Stop staring at me like that."
And the world continued to spin. All right, not so delirious. A Sasuke-apology would be followed by a sharp-as-knives Sasuke-remark.
Giggling softly to herself, Sakura waved a hand to tell him the explanation wasn't necessary. Perhaps her annoying sensitivity had been made obvious; if that was the case, she didn't need his babying. "It's okay. Don't worry about it, Sasuke."
Folding his arms defensively, the Uchiha scoffed. "I wasn't worried about anything…"
"Alright…" she sighed, not wishing to test the limits of his stubbornness that day. It wasn't a good idea to play such a game when they were both at their limits. She motioned to the couch in the living room. "Let's get those stitches out."
For the remainder of the checkup, Sasuke sat stationary on the couch, leaning forward with his arms on his thighs so Sakura could have better access to the top of his head. Though he tried hard not to show it, he was more aware of her actions than he'd like.
From where she sat kneeling on the couch beside him, Sakura ran her fingers carefully through the surprisingly soft ebony spikes, pushing the thick strands to reach the embedded injuries beneath.
Using her medical tools, she began to remove what was left of the stitches.
After a while, the silence began to make her uncomfortable. "So…" she attempted, "um… I probably won't have to come back to pester you after this. It's been a month and you're all healed up."
There was silence for a few moments. "Whatever..." he finally muttered.
"Yeah, I bet you're happy," she joked with a yawn. She was sure she had overstayed her welcome by now.
Frowning, Sasuke turned his head slightly to inspect her from the corner of his eye.
Covering her mouth politely, she noted the onyx eyes that had slid to her face. "Sorry. I'm kind of tired," Sakura admitted, yawning once more. "Can't wait to go home and sleep."
What he said next, however, was more than enough to jolt her from fatigue like a wrecking ball.
"So stay here."
Pulling her hands from his hair, Sakura leaned back to stare at him. Before, Sasuke would've done anything to get her out of his way: insult, belittle… fake his own death… and now he was telling her to spend the night? What bizarre forces were at work here? Given the amount of surprise, all her confusion could be compacted into one simple squeak of a question: "…Huh?"
"Use my bed. I'll take the couch."
Use his WHAT? His bed? The fan girls would surely have her ass on a platter if they ever found out. "Uh-hum—!" she laughed nervously, "But—I mean… I shouldn't… uh, you know I don't want to impose! It's really okay, I couldn't possibly—!"
"Just stay, Sakura," he drawled meaningfully. "Don't be annoying."
Drumming her nails nervously against her thighs, she eyed him suspiciously. She tried her best to ignore the snide remark he had stuck in, though the significance of the word 'annoying' pricked ever so slightly. "It's… really okay? Are you sure?"
"Why are you being difficult?"
"Because I don't mind walking home."
She smiled incredulously. "Yeah, no Sasuke, I really don't mind."
"I mind," Sasuke snapped with growing impatience.
"Okay, okay…" the pink-haired medic mused as she shifted closer to him. She was tired after all and it seemed refusing Sasuke's rare hospitality was a slow knife to the male ego. Resuming her work, she playfully poked the side of his head. "Only cause you mind so much," she teased. "I accept your offer."
It was two in the morning when Sasuke slid the front door closed behind him, wondering if his deed outside had accidentally woken Sakura. Walking down the hallway, he noticed his footsteps against the wooden flooring didn't sound quite as hollow as before. Perhaps an echo could not sound as empty when where it existed was not. Back then of course, he had taken little things like this for granted.
He stopped when he reached his room, gazing at the pink-haired girl who slept peacefully in his bed. It appeared her sleeping hadn't been disturbed. Frowning, Sasuke sighed in frustration and knelt into a sitting position. He would probably stay up all night to watch over her.
Just in case.
Just in case his own foolish, arrogant choices hadn't put Sakura under a certain someone's malicious fixation.
The man wouldn't dare, Sasuke thought menacingly. He'd slit that snake's throat first.
Cursing under his breath, he leaned his head back against the doorframe. It was going to be a long night.
Running with bare feet and feather-light steps, Sakura tried to make her way silently across the outside walkway of the Uchiha Manor. It was dawn, and she had made sure to get up early to commit certain generous deeds. The sun had only begun to rise, and the essence of dew and night air remained—she could see her own breath as she jogged around the intricate workings of the large household. Wearing only a black tank top and shorts, items she wore under her usual attire, she tried her best to ignore the chilling air that rushed past her hurried movements.
Reaching her destination, Sakura slid the wooden door open and crept inside, careful not to let too much morning sunlight into the darkened living room. She made her way up to the back of the couch before her and peaked over slowly. Surely enough, Sasuke lay sprawled upon it with his arms folded behind his head. He looked relaxed; cool, even. It amused her how he could keep up the legendary Sasuke-persona even in his sleep.
"Sasuke!" she whispered while leaning closer over the back of the couch. "Sasssuuukeee!"
A single eye cracked open to glare at her.
"Morning!" Sakura greeted cheerfully. "Did you sleep okay?"
He grunted an exasperated noise before he shifted his position, burying his face into the couch pillow. "I'll tell you when I'm finished," was the muffled reply.
Persistent as always, Sakura leaned over further. Strands of her pink hair brushed unintentionally against Sasuke's cheek as she did so. "I made breakfast," she lured sweetly.
"Good. Go eat it."
She sighed. "I made it for you."
He grumbled an okay after hearing the tinge of disappointment in her voice. "Fine. Give me 5 minutes."
Pleased, Sakura smiled and slapped his shoulder playfully. "Meet you in the kitchen!" And with that, she slid the door open once again and made her way back across the outdoor walkway. I wonder why he's still tired…I thought he'd be up earlier than this…
Humming, she knew now that she must've been overstepping her boundaries as the guest, but she couldn't get over how Sasuke generously insisted she stay overnight to avoid a late walk home. Thanking him wasn't enough, so she had a goal that morning to make him the best damn breakfast he ever ate.
Before reaching the kitchen, Sakura instinctively skidded to a stop. Paranoia began to sink in when she could've sworn she felt someone watching just seconds before. She narrowed her eyes dangerously over her shoulder to the many large trees surrounding the Uchiha courtyard. Whatever presence it was, it was already gone.
Or extremely well hidden.
Her brilliant green eyes scanned the environment, ignoring the heavy breeze that pushed strands of hair across her face. She was almost never wrong about these feelings. A familiar presence had appeared… lingering for only a second, but it was enough. She felt the intent, the eyes…
"There's no one there."
Biting her lip, she turned her head slightly to where Sasuke groggily stood behind her. "Are you sure?" she asked. "I know someone was…"
"ANBU officers check on me several times a day. They're in and out without saying much."
"Oh…" That made sense. A passing officer was probably just wondering why she was there. A girl in Sasuke's house; what a scandal. Breathing a sigh of relief, Sakura spun on her heels and made her way back to the kitchen. "Well, I'm glad you're up. Let's go eat!"
He took a single step forward before he paused to glare at the surrounding trees. Glancing back, he waited till Sakura was back inside the house before he flung a kunai with one quick gesture. It soared beyond his view, but struck where it should've.
Narrowing his eyes threateningly, the Uchiha turned and followed after the pink-haired kunoichi without looking back.
Excellent aim as always, Sasuke-kun…
The kunai thrown at him had strategically broken the outside frame of his glasses and hit the tree branch by his head. Taking them off, Kabuto raised an eyebrow in amusement and admiration of the boy's skills. What an interesting way to end their little reunion.
Having been around him for years, Sasuke was an expert at sensing Kabuto's presence. That night, the silver-haired man had barely stepped foot into the Uchiha district before Sasuke showed up to greet him, having sensed the medic even in his sleep.
"What are you doing here?" the dark-haired boy demanded.
"I came to deliver a message," Kabuto answered simply. Gliding a hand over the ridge of his nose, he adjusted his glasses. "Forgive my intrusion, Sasuke-kun. I didn't mean to wake you from your sleep. It must've been hard with such a distraction in the next room."
"What's the message?" Sasuke seethed impatiently, ignoring the hidden-meaning behind Kabuto's words. The older man smirked. "Orochimaru-sama would like to remind you of your unfinished business with him."
"We have none."
"On the contrary," Kabuto said darkly. "You still owe him. Leaving to kill your brother and then not returning? Tsk, tsk…"
Sasuke shrugged. "I was brought back to Konoha."
"And yet you remain." The silver-haired medic paused to smile knowingly behind the Uchiha, "I wonder why… How is Sakura-san these days?"
"None of your business," Sasuke snapped. "Don't change the subject."
"More defensive than usual, aren't we?" He shook his head, "Fine. I'll be needing a reply then."
"Tell him to get another vessel. We're done."
The medic narrowed his eyes and shrugged, casually turning to leave. "If you say so, Sasuke-kun. Have a good night."
Kabuto knew very well that Sasuke's reply wouldn't go over well with Orochimaru. No… his master would not let this go. Not now, not ever. He would be most enraged to learn that his Sasuke stayed and cooperated with life in Konoha willingly… and for the sake of one particular person.
Author's note: I don't know why, but this chapter was an absolute pain to write. It was one of those times where I knew in my head what I wanted, but I didn't know how to do it. When that happens to me I just write out all the spoken dialogue and leave the rest till later. Nyahaha… headache. I'm hoping you guys made the connection between the flashback and Sasuke checking up on Sakura. Also, for those of you reading but are behind on the series, Sasuke's house has most of the traditional elements in accordance to Japanese architecture… and I am NOT good at describing them. Haha, boo leanne. Anyway, the next chapter is more SasuSaku development. The Orochimaru thing will be brought back a little later.
Some notes based on reviews: I'm a little mad at myself for not getting Neji's character right. I suppose that's the closest I can peg him to if he were to ever go after a girl. Sort of the over-confident, gentlemanly type?
I was asked about lemony goodness. The thing is, I would know to write it if the time came. It's hard to predict at this point… but we'll see!
Thanks again for all the reviews! I write a lot faster thanks to you guys.