Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Naruto.
GIFT-FIC! Written for Naruto Rabu's Valentine's Day/White Day Exchange. I love exchanges myself, personally, and this is the second successful one I've participated in. This one was written for Nekostella of Livejournal, who requested an angst-filled romance–something I'm more than happy to write. I hope you enjoyed this gift as much as I enjoyed writing it, Nekostella!
She could feel the warm crawl of blood as it crept down her neck from the scratch she sustained earlier in the fight. Her hands itched to wipe it away but she was busy at the moment, watching him and waiting for him to make his next move.
She knew, without having to look down, that she was covered in blood and dirt and sweat. Her hair was a pink mass of chaos, her creamy skin bruised and cut. The girl she used to be would have screamed in outrage, but she was no longer that girl. That vanity now held no meaning to her, because this was battle, and battles held no grace or beauty, no matter what stories said.
Her green eyes, once so bright with tears, were now determined. They stared at him in his cursed seal form with contempt. There was no trace of old memories or feelings now.
The man—no, creature, standing before her was not Uchiha Sasuke. She knew that by just looking at him. The 'X'-shaped shadow that ran from his brow to his aristocratic nose was like a half mask covering his formerly handsome face. The whites of his eyes were now black, and his blue-black hair had grown so long it was nearly a mane. And the giant palm-shaped wings that had sprout from his back... Only the red-madness of the Sharingan and that damn arrogant smirk remained, reminding her that he was still human and not the demon she had taken him to be.
"What's wrong, Sakura? Don't tell me you're tired already." His voice mocked her as he began to walk towards her, predator stalking prey. "Then again, you were always weak."
She grit her teeth and tightened her grip on the kunai in her palm. She refused to speak to him, to answer his jeering questions. She focused her mind on finding the boy she used to know, or, if that didn't work, then on killing him.
He was strong, so much stronger than he used to be, not only from utilizing Orochimaru's curse seal but also from training, battling, and, she was sure, killing. Only her rigorous training with Tsunade had allowed her to survive so far, and only luck had kept him from using the Chidori on her.
Where had the years gone? Nineteen years old and still never been kissed. What had she been waiting for?
Yes, she too had wanted to get stronger, but never like him. She knew from missions with Naruto that Orochimaru had been denied his greatest prize–the body of a Sharingan-possessor. She wondered dimly if it was because Orochimaru was now afraid of Sasuke. If he did, she didn't blame him.
His hands sudden moments stopped her from pondering further. She didn't have to wait for the fire to burn her to recognize his favorite attack. She thanked her young body endlessly for flipping out of the way with ease.
She was too slow and sluggish, however, to realize what he had planned all along.
The first moment she was too stunned to think or move. Then she felt the pain, the rough bark biting into her shoulder blades and back, and his clawed hand around her flower-stem neck. As she struggled to breathe, those crimson pupils watched her with fascination. It was not her beauty that entranced him, she was sure, but really the fact that he had the power to kill her at any moment.
She tried desperately to move her hands into forming seals, but he noticed before she could finish any jutsu and clamped his other hand over her wrists. He loosened his grasp on her neck enough so she could breathe and began to talk again.
"Aren't you going to cry, Sakura-chan?" He separated the syllables of her name and attached the suffix to further emphasize his belief that she was still weak, still the child he had left unconscious with tears drying on her cheeks. "That's what you always did before."
She bit the inside of her cheek to will herself not to spit in his face. Instead, she adopted the cloudy eyes of a blind woman and kept her mouth sealed in a tight line.
He chuckled as she put on her passive resistance act. Leaning close so their bodies were pressed intimately together, he whispered to her lips, "Why so submissive, Sakura? Didn't the old hag send you out to kill me?"
Her heart might have started pounding that moment, but there was no way she was going to allow him to know that. She might have been naive and foolish then but not now, and not ever again.
Without warning, his lips were harshly pressed against her own. It was selfish, just like him, taking greedily without giving. But, for the life of her it still hotly erotic, still the guilty pleasure she had always fantasized about. Fire, like a burning whip, spread throughout her body, and it was only the overbearing thoughts of 'he's a killer' that kept her from kissing him back.
He broke the kiss and pushed away from her, releasing her hands and his hold from her neck, eyes wildly searching her face.
Seeing nothing but the empty gaze, his temper rose. "Isn't that what you've always wanted?" he grated out. "Isn't that why you said you would follow me to the ends of the world for?"
If she wasn't in such a position, she would have laughed. Sasuke was more insane than she had thought at the beginning of her mission. Then out of the blue she remembered the religious book she had found in the Hokage's grand library.
"In the beginning..." The story of Adam and Eve, the first humans. Ignorant of pain and suffering until Eve committed the ultimate crime. Unknowingly, she took a bite of the devil's fruit and saw everything with clear eyes, understanding at last how dangerous being naive could be.
She wished she could have known earlier. Then, she would have never fallen in love with Sasuke. And, perhaps she would never have to kill him, because that kiss was the final statement. The Sasuke she had loved was truly gone, perhaps had never truly existed.
Her hands slipped out of their gloves smoothly and landed on the ground. Without warning she pressed her naked palms against his chest, hard. He was frozen in place before he had any idea of what had just happened.
The power she had hidden for almost five years revealed themselves.
As his poisoned chakra started entering her system, sucked through the holes the forbidden jutsu had created, tears began to rise out of her soul once more.
She didn't know why she was crying. All she felt was a deep regret for the fact that she was never meant to rescue him.
'Please don't let me kill him.'
Once, they had been children together. She thought she had loved him, because then they were just Sasuke and Sakura, a boy and a girl. Once, she could have leaned up against him on her toes, and been able to steal a sweet kiss. Once...
'I still love him...'
She felt him weakening under her palms, could feel his weight lighten as the wings melted into his back. The 'X' shape mark on his face dissolved into his pale skin and she recognized him once more.
'He's still the only one...'
Tears rolled down her cheeks as the Sharingan bled themselves out and she realized the inevitable was about to happen. Unable to stop herself, she raised herself to her toes and trembled as his empty gaze passed through her.
She closed her eyes as she leaned again him and granted her darkest wish.
Haruno Sakura took a second bite of the devil's fruit.