An update after about five months or so. Not counting. Sorry readers, but I'm really not into Naruto anymore XD I'll try to force myself to write more of the stuff I've already started and post the rest of the chapters I've already written for this. Let me know if you have any suggestions of how to bring this fic in particular to a close, 'cause it's kind of a nothing plot XD I'll figure something out.
Thank you all for being patient! Here's The Anniversary.
Monday came faster than Sakura hoped, marking the end of another weekend spent with Sasuke. The morning was both unusually gray and quiet, but the kunoichi took no note of it as she hurried to get ready for school. What finally sparked her realization that something was off was how quiet her mother was.
She smiled wanly as Sakura entered the kitchen and took a seat at the counter.
"Ohayo, Sakura-chan," she greeted half-heartedly.
"...Mom?" Sakura looked her mother over, noticing a faint unease about her. "Are you okay?"
The red-head nodded, but Sakura glimpsed her worried expression.
"You want breakfast?"
"Not until you tell me what's going on."
The nin wordlessly set a plate before her daughter. "Itadakimasu."
Sakura ate what she could while her worry grew. Something was up, she knew. But the fact that her mother wasn't telling her could only mean it was bad. Really bad.
"Mom...?" she began tentatively. "Is it dad?" Her father had left on Sunday for a short mission and was due back that night.
Her mother paused as she cleared the plates. "...No, Sakura. Your father's fine. I don't want you to worry." She went to the sink to wash the dishes.
"...Well, is it you? Are you sick or something?" Sakura pressed.
"Nothing's wrong, Sakura-chan. We're all fine, to my knowledge."
"Well...Then stop acting like we're in the midst of some tragedy!" she said suddenly, standing up so quickly that her chair fell to the ground with a clatter. "What is this, a game show? Quit making me guess. Hiding it from me is only making it worse!"
Her mother didn't look up.
"Mom...Please tell me. Whatever it is, I have to know now," Sakura said, quieting.
The older nin seemed to be thinking it over. Instead, she handed Sakura her bento.
"Careful. It's heavy."
Sakura sighed inwardly, giving up. She'd find out soon enough what was troubling her mother. She reached out to take the bento and nearly dropped it on the counter.
"Oh my –! Mother, what did you put in this?!" Sakura exclaimed. She had to hold it to her chest with both arms wrapped around it to hold it up. "Heavy" was indeed an understatement.
Her mother turned to the calendar hanging on the wall.
"I just thought you might need some more to eat today. Share it with your friends."
"Need" some more to eat. Not even "like" some more to eat...I don't like the sound of that... Sakura thought, turning to leave the room. Suddenly, she froze in her path. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of the date. Turning back, her mother was staring intently at the calendar, head bowed slightly.
"...Oh my God, Mom..." Sakura began, unsure of what to say.
Her mother offered a small smile.
"You'd better get going," she said. "I'll see you tonight."
Sakura walked to school invisible, detatched from the world around her. She could no longer feel the weight of the bento in her arms, nor her own body as it made its way down the familiar street. She was only aware of the slight breeze caressing face, the scent of rain on the air, and the thought that today marked the anniversary of one of Konoha's greatest tragedies.
Eight years ago today, the great Uchiha clan was wiped out. Almost.
Sakura remembered the conversation she had had with her mother two years ago. She had come home upset, having just found out about Sasuke's horrific past. Her mother had sat her down and explained to her what had happened on that day as best she could, for the public had been spared the details. All she knew was that Sasuke had come home one day to find everyone dead, and the brother he had looked up to proudly taking the blame.
It was on that day that Sakura finally realized why Sasuke detested her so: she wanted to be close to him. The only people to ever be close to Sasuke had either betrayed him or been taken away.
Sakura ducked inside the school just as the first bout of thunder sounded. It took her a moment to rearrange her locker to fit the bulging bento, and she was a few minutes late to class; but when she entered the room, everyone was talking in hushed voices and the teacher wasn't there.
She wasn't surprised to find that Sasuke was not there either.
Sakura took a seat between Naruto and an empty chair. Surprisingly, even he was quiet.
"What's going on?" she hissed, leaning towards him.
"Don't know. Iruka-sensei came by a while ago and just told us to wait for him. He walked off with the Godaime. He looked pretty serious," Naruto said.
Sakura just nodded.
Then Iruka came in the room and sat at his desk.
"I've got a bit of grading to do for the upcoming genin. You all have study hall until after lunch. If you want, quiz each other for your pre-test."
"Way to leave us in the dark," Shikamaru muttered from the desk behind them.
An hour passed, and Akamaru whimpered a little.
"What's wrong, boy?" Kiba asked. The dog left his perch on Kiba's head and just climbed under his sweatshirt. Thunder boomed outside. Sakura kept her eyes on her work, but she felt like crying. Today certainly seemed like an appropriate day for mass murder.
The door to the classroom opened, and everyone looked up.
Sasuke stood with his head bowed, hands in pockets. He didn't speak.
Iruka just nodded and said, "Take your seat. You have study hall."
Sakura watched him as he took his seat beside her and put his elbows on the table, resting his forehead against his fists. His hair and clothes were damp from the rain, and he seemed to be shivering. Sakura reached unsurely towards him and laid her hand on his arm. After a moment, he covered her hand with his and looked over at her, as if noticing she was there for the first time.
The bell rang, and they were sent to the ampitheater for lunch. Sasuke waited by Sakura's locker as she struggled with her bento. A smirk crossed his face, and he reached over and carried it for her with one hand, the other intertwined with hers.
Once in the theater building, they sat in the carpeted ailse towards the back of the room. Sasuke hadn't said a word the whole time.
"I didn't think you would come today," Sakura began quietly, hugging her knees to her chest.
"I almost didn't," Sasuke said, after a pause.
Sakura felt the lump in her throat rise. How was it that he remained calm while she was on the verge of tears? she wondered. Of course, she realized, he was containing it; she caught glimpses of his pained expressions, when his face was in shadow to everyone else.
"You should eat," he said, deadpan, speaking quietly so his voice wouldn't crack with the effort.
"I'm not that hungry," Sakura replied, scooting closer to him and taking his hand again.
Sasuke bowed his head.
"You know, then," he said, a statement rather than a question.
Sakura nodded, blinking back tears. Sasuke sighed and looked at her with surprisingly soft black eyes.
"Every year, when this day comes," he began, "I go to the manor and stand in the exact spot I had that day, and I think about what I should have done to stop him..."
Sakura inwardly cringed. She imagined what it must have felt like, to be burdened with all that guilt. And no matter how many times people said it wasn't his fault, it didn't matter. They didn't blame him. He blamed himself. And only he could change his mind.
Sasuke continued. "That was all I had. Memories. Wasted thoughts about what could have been." He paused. "I started walking to the manor earlier, but I stopped, changed my mind. I remembered...I have you, now."
He turned to her as a single tear escaped his eye, making all of hers spill.
"Sasuke..." She held herself to him, pressing her face to his chest.
He closed his eyes and rested his chin on her shoulder.
"...Thank you," he whispered, "for giving me more to live for."
Sakura pulled back after a moment and smiled, cheeks glistening with tears. Cupping his chin in her hand, she pulled him into a kiss.
"I hope you're hungry," she said finally.
Sasuke cocked an eyebrow at her.
"Is that supposed to sound sexy?" he asked skeptically.
Sakura sighed. "No," she place the heavy bundle between them, "I'm serious."
She opened the bento and nearly gaped. Inside, her mother had packed multiple rolls of inari, futo-maki, tamago, and balls of onigiri. Why stop there? Sata andagi, dorayaki filled with anko, and small individual boxes of wa-gashi were all crammed – and miraculously not crushed – into the box.
"...Someone had way too much fun in the kitchen this morning..." Sakura muttered. What time did Mom get up? Four?!
She turned to Sasuke.
"Did you bring a lunch?" she asked.
He shook his head. Smirking, she knudged the box his way.
"Eat up," she chuckled.
Bloody hell, I don't think I've ever made Sasuke more OOC hah! Then again, I wrote this a while ago, so I'm not too surprised it sucks so bad...Whatever though. Fluff's a' plenty, so dig in.