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ENJOY!

This is for --NorikoXD-- because she had been cyber stalking me! Awesome!

THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT

Written by purpleblush017

Hope is a happiness held in the heart

When happiness held to be gone

Hope is a quiet joy deep within

Encouraging us to go on.

Hope is a light that burns through the night

In a place where miracle starts

And every good thing will come in its time

As long as there's hope in our hearts.

cHapTeR 09: ' MeLancHoLy '

You and I

Divided we stand

Together we fall

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

It started with just a drizzle—bits of raindrops falling from the sky. So light.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

And when the dark clouds got drifted away by the strong wind, you'd think that the cries of heaven have ceased.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

Without giving any sign, a loud cry of thunder was heard. The sky growled as it wept harder. Each drop felt heavy. Each left a stinging pain the moment it hit you.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

In the end, it poured hard, singing a song of sadness. Creating a heavy ambiance of despair and wretchedness. As if it voices out your feelings.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

The once clear path that you were taking a while ago was now dim and muddy. But as it seems, the weather is in your favor. Because of the heavy rain, you were able to shadow yourself perfectly from the lowly guards that were guarding the main exit to the Uchiha Kingdom.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

Adding to your lucky streak, a group of entertainers who were also going out of the kingdom offered to give you a ride inside their carriage up until the next stop. You hesitated. You're in grave danger, you know that, and you can't bear to put them in that scenario too. But after you heard your companion sneeze, you had no other choice but to take on their offer.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

Because to you, your companion—she matters most.


Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

Inside the small worn-out wooden carriage they were riding in, Sasuke eyed the weird yet generous people in it. Apparently, there were only three male entertainers siting with him inside. The other two were the ones coaching the carriage, minding their own business.

"So pretty. Is that you're girlfriend?" the male on his side suddenly asked, cutting the thread of silence.

Girlfriend?

Is she?

Aren't they just best friends?

Sasuke held the sleeping Sakura tighter against his body. "She is." Sasuke stated as he took off his wet hood, careful not to slip off his blonde wig.

The man grinned. "Tsk. Too bad for me, ne?" with that comeback, he had earned the infamous death glare from Sasuke.

Male entertainer number 2 laughed at him. "See? Told you so."

"Ping-pong! Instantly dumped again!" male entertainer no. 3 piped in. "Just admit defeat. You'll never gonna' get a woman for yourself!"

"Che," Male entertainer number 1 slumped comically. "All the women I like seemed to be taken if not married."

Entertainer 3 arm-locked his head, sheepishly sating: "I think this is your calling! Why don't you try asking guys out for a change?"

"Who? You?"

They both laughed. Not minding them, Sasuke carefully wiped Sakura's drenched face. Her black wig still in shape. Her slightly parted lips, so alluring, so tempting. She was just painfully sinful. A sin he couldn't stop doing. A sin he takes pride in. A sin he sucks strength from.

A sin he loves committing.


Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

As you stare at the dark clouds there, you start you realize the seriousness of the crime you have committed.

You start visualizing your parent's angry faces, the people's disgusted looks, the Hyuga's mortified face, and the possibility of bloodshed, if it were to reach that certain point. But just one look at her eases you already.

Just one touch would makes you shiver in sheer delight.

Just one kiss would make everything you've done worth it.

Just her being right here in your arms makes you sinfully happy.

And then you ask yourself why.

Why do you love her that much?

So much that if you'd be given a chance to go back and right the wrongs, you'd do it all over again.

Why?

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

The heaven feels your burden and cries with you.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

It rains.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

Just like that day.


He arched his beautiful black eyebrow at her, silently questioning her suspicious ogling session with him. Seriously, why was she staring at his face? His small delicate hands slowly touch his cheeks, searching for what maybe the cause of the pink-haired female in front of him to be staring at him.

"Do I have something on my face?" he asks, annoyed.

Her pink hair flutters in thin air as she shakes her head. "No. It's perfectly pretty."

"Sakura, boys are not 'pretty'."

She looks quite offended, thinking over it for an intelligent comeback. "Well, you are, Sasuke-kun. Really!" when he snorted and looked the other way, she smiled and laughed.

Sasuke had never heard something so magical and beautiful.

There was a knock on the door.

"Come in." he says in his cool 8-year old voice. A man with a dreadful face enters his quarters. And Sasuke could just tell that there isn't any happy news. "What is it?" he snapped.

"Sasuke-sama," The loyal man bowed, acknowledging the prince. He then turned to the small pink-haired creature sitting on the carpet, "Sakura-san, Mikoto-dono would like to speak with you."

"Miko-chan wants to talk to me?" Sakura asked, a finger pointing at her face.

Sasuke looked interested. "What about?"

He bowed again, "I am terribly sorry, young prince, but I am merely a messenger, passing messages."

"Fine. I'll accompany her. Let's go, Sakura."

"Huh?" she blinked, dumbfounded. "Oh. Okay." She sat up, brushing her dress from the imaginary dirt. Because really, the Uchiha palace is super clean. The maids attend to it, three times a day.

"I apologize, young prince, but I am to escort her alone. Your mother insisted that you study for your next class."

Sasuke grumbled. Something was definitely fishy going on around here. And he has to find out what exactly it was. So after Sakura and the male attendant left the room, he snuck out to explore on his own.

They say curiosity killed the cat. But Sasuke would have traded his soul to switch places with her that very moment. At that very moment when came her biggest fear come to reality.

"Your father, Sakura-chan…he's gone."

An unhappy face.

"Miko-chan…I don't understand."

There was a deep sigh. "He's not going back anymore, Sakura—"

The beautiful laughter that she just emitted earlier was now drowned in tears and screams.

"It's not true! It's not true!" Screams becoming louder by the second.

"Sakura-chan—"

"It's not true! Tou-chan…he said he'll be back! He'll be back!" she screamed, hot tears streaming down her face. "I'm a good girl! I'm a good girl! Tou-chan said he'll be back!"

"Sakura-ch—"

And she ran, ran towards the door, and pushed it open, bumping on Sasuke. His hands instantly gripped her shoulders, offering warmth. She looked at him with blurry eyes. "Sasuke-kun…"

And he couldn't look at her eyes. So much pain. So much suffering.

She shakes in fear, in frustration, in depression. "Sasuke-kun…Tou-chan…he…he…"

And Sasuke hugs her tightly as her tears came rolling down, tainting his expensive velvet silk shirt. In his arms, she breaks. Sakura breaks into pieces. Like millions of broken shards that stings flesh. And Sasuke tries to catch as many pieces he can with his bare hands. His bare hand bleeds.

That moment, Sasuke would have given everything, anything to trade their positions.

To stop her from hurting.

To stop her from crying.

To stop pain.

And Sasuke vows to protect those pieces that he had collected. Whatever the cost was. Even his life.

Just to make her smile again. Just to make her laugh again. Just to make her be whole again.

He whispers, aching, and she doesn't hear him, "Let me be a loved one." She continues to wail, harder, sobbing into fits. You'll endure anything. For her. Only for her. Just so that she'd be safe. "I'll protect you."

Outside, it had started raining, pouring droplets of water, splashing through everything that comes across them.

It was as if it was crying for him. As if mocking him. And it pours harder.

"I'll love you."


Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

You look at her, sleeping on the warm bed. You appear to be really lucky today, because you came across a hotel to spend the night. And there, you lay her on the mattress, and to your surprise, you gawk at her. With those soft eyes that you didn't believe you had.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

She's the prettiest thing you've ever seen. And you want to keep her forever. For yourself. You're selfish because you're not willing to share. No. no sharing. Ever.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

And you realize the things that you have done. You have deceived your parents. Endangered the Uchiha Kingdom with the Hyuugas. You ran away. Is running away. You have put everything in danger. In grave danger. Responsibilities in the trash. Everyone in confusion. Everything in mayhem.

Ssssssssssshhhhhhhh

But as you keep staring at her, you realize that she— she's worth it.

And you'd do it all over again if you had to.


"Uzumaki Naruto! What is the meaning of this fucking shit!?"

The blonde man looks around and sees a woman cracking his fingers. "Oh. Shit! Tenten, what the hell are you—"

She stomped, her furrowed eyebrows getting rather complicated to untangle. "Where's Haruno Sakura!?"

Shikamaru observed the surroundings behind the bushes, laying low, spying.

"You were following me?" Naruto looked scandalized. "Why would you—"

"Enough games!" Tenten growled, getting nearer by the second. She grabbed his collar, slightly shoving him upwards, intimidating him. "Where's Neji-kun's bride!?" she seethed.

"I don't know!" Naruto answered, prying off her hands, which was futile for her vice-like grip was more than he could handle. "Tenten, I really don't know!"

Something dark glinted in her eyes. "Liar!" and she threw his fist towards his face. The collision of Naruto's face slamming on her fist didn't occur. Instead, there was a pressure on her wrists that gave her a halt.

Shikamaru decided that things were getting pretty serious around here.

"G-Gai-sensei…" she looked shocked, as she is caught right-handed. She immediately, though regretfully let go of her hold on Naruto. She averted his sensei's gaze as he let go of her wrists. "I'm not…I was just—"

"Enough!" Gai growled, obviously looking disappointed on what was happening. "I am struck at heart here, Tenten. I leave you out of sight for one second and you start harassing a civilian!? I understand your burning passion for the success of Neji-sama's bride retrieval, but you should be the first one to know to be patient. You have disgraced me. Lee," he called.

"Hai, Gai-sensei?" Lee spoke firmly.

"Escort Tenten back to the Uchiha palace. Keep her locked up in one room. You, young lady are detained of your Hyuuga duties as of this moment until I find you reliable and trust-worthy enough to do the job right."

"Hai! Gai-sensei!" Lee affirms the order with a salute and grabs Tenten by the arm, "Let's go, Tenten-san."

"But! Gai-sensei!" Tenten protests. "Naruto knows where she is! Ask him! He knows!" he points a finger at Naruto. "He freaking knows!"

Naruto adjusted his collar, "Me? I don't know what you're talking about, you crazy woman!"

Tenten looked at her sensei, pleading. "Sensei…really, trust me!"

But he remained impassive. "Lee, go. Now."

"Hai!" Lee saluted before dragging Tenten by the arm towards the Uchiha palace, with her screams of protests.

When they were out of sight, it was then Hatake Kakashi spoke up. "Don't you think that was kind of harsh, huh, Gai?"

Gai rubbed his temples. "It was. But these kids never learn the easy way." He caught glance of Naruto, "I am apologizing for my student's sake. Terribly sorry. Tenten can't hold her temper rather well."

"You don't say." Naruto huffs sarcasm.

"Am sorry, really Kakashi. It would be a great deal for me if you do not mention this to the elders. Or anyone in particular." He looked desperate. "I could not bear damaging the good name of my country here."

Kakashi sighed. "I won't say a word."

Gai forced a small awkward smile. "Thank you. I owe you a great deal. Now, let us discuss this later. I will give my students the 'Talk' before she gets to really punch an innocent civilian this time."

"That'll be really ugly. Go ahead and teach those rascals a lesson." Kakashi says, trying to ease the distraught plaguing Gai's face. Gai bows and takes his leave. Kakashi looks at their surrounding. From the open secret cabin to Naruto who looked like he was just raped or something.

He sighed. "Uzumaki, you should have been more careful. That was a really close one."

Naruto paled. "I don't know—"

"No need to hide things that I am perfectly aware of, Naruto." He scratches his head.

The blonde man fidgeted, ashamed. "I didn't realize I was being followed."

"Well, I guess I have to tell Iruka to put you in a more rigid training and a year behind then."

"Kakashi-sensei!" his blue eyes shatter in pain. "Stop joking. About Sasuke-teme and Sakura-chan…"

"I know. I have eyes and ears, idiot." Kakashi examines the empty cabin from the outside. "Sasuke-sama, the ever gentleman that he is, is now on the run with dear Sakura-chan." And he knows and realizes that it was not good for it left a bad taste in his mouth.

Naruto clenches his fists, full of fury. "That bastard! Thinking about himself and—"

The older snaps him before uttering important details, "Naruto, listen very well." And the blonde soldier did, concentrating on his words. "There is an enemy." The blue-eyed man cringed; he did speculate that the man in front of him was the enemy.

Naruto nodded.

"You and I are on the same boat. We are against the same enemy. A very powerful enemy who plays with the strings tactfully. Plays with us for fun and amusement. He has fangs equipped with deadly venom, which can sink in pretty deep. He has ears and eyes everywhere, watching, listening, everything."

The blonde dope looked confused. "Who would do such things?"

Hatake Kakashi stared at the bushes where Nara Shikamaru was hiding. He stared and glared for a long time, believing that the person behind would realize that he knew. Shikamaru cursed beneath his breath as he unveiled the message behind Kakashi's deadly glare.

He was giving an open invitation of war.


A fresh new day.

Birds chirping.

The sun smiling at him.

A great day for new beginning.

A road towards a new life.

Him and her. Together. Staring afresh and anew.

Nothing could be sweeter.

"Ne, Sasuke-kun, do we have a destination?" she asks, as she stokes the horse they were riding.

"Aa." He continues to grip the reins. Really, it was a fine day. Taking it easy was the best way to go at it.

Sakura frowned, her wig slightly dropping to one side as the horse abruptly fastened its pace. "I don't know where 'Aa' is, Sasuke-kun."

"Hn."

"I don't know where 'Hn' is either." She slumped. What a conversation killer. The road they were taking was being nostalgic. The path was something she once remembered. And then a precious memory clicked. "Sasuke-kun, turn right."

As soon as the word came out, Sasuke instantly knew where this was leading. Of course, how could he forget where this long path leads? "Why?"

"I know someone who could really help us right now."

Sasuke grunted in displeasure. Because he knows. And he doesn't like it either.

With a little pleading, brutal threat, pinching, and below-the belt hits, Sasuke turned right. They were now officially embarking on the road towards the Suna Kingdom. A place where someone he doesn't very much like lives. Another bastard to beat up. Oh. Just great.

His lucky streak was finally over.