Aishiteru, Cherry Blossom


Prologue: A Reentry


"So, you're back." Uzamaki Naruto looked straight ahead at the village of Konoha, Hidden Village of the Leaf. He both didn't want to and couldn't look at the teenager beside him.

"Yeah." Uchiha Sasuke glanced at his former teammate for a moment, and then followed his lead and looked at the village as well, onyx eyes scanning the familiar landscape. "I don't think I'll be that welcome," he remarked as he shook his head, remembering his betrayal. "What is everybody doing?"

"Yeah, Tsunade's going to kick your ass when she sees you. Um... Ino and Shikamaru are working at the Yamanaka flower shop. They got married a couple months ago."

"At eighteen?"

"Hai shit happens. Neji and some others are ANBU now with me, but you know that, Kiba and Shino are doing... something... Lee and Tenten went their separate ways, and I'm not really sure what they're doing now. It's been pretty normal, but you missed a lot."

Sasuke smirked. "Hinata?"

Naruto blushed heavily. "I don't know. We haven't talked for a while."

"Lover's spat?"

"No," the Uzamaki declared, scowling.

There was a pause while Sasuke thought for a moment. Then, "Sakura?"

"She's the top medic-nin of Konoha," Naruto said proudly. "She trains with Tsunade, and she's getting hella strong. I sparred with her, and she beat the crap out of me."

Sasuke would have gasped if he wasn't Sasuke. Maybe if he was someone like Naruto. I was expecting her to do something stupid and weak... own a stop or something. Definitely wasn't expecting her to become a Hokage-trained, Kyuubi-beating medic-nin... "Oh."

"Yeah. 'Oh'. You missed a lot, teme." Naruto wasn't smiling.

"Shut up." The Uchiha scanned the horizon and felt intense chakra moving away. It seemed familiar. "Are the Sand Ninjas here?"

"Yeah, for a visit," Naruto said, inspecting a scratch on his knuckles. "Gaara's Kazekage now, so he comes on business a lot. Sakura's the only one that really knows him, that's really a friend to him."

"Why Sakura?" Sasuke frowned. He's dangerous. She could get hurt. Why did he care, anyway? She felt like banging his head on a tree in an extremelyNaruto-esque style.

"Jealous, teme?" Naruto was the one that smirked this time. "She's healed him a lot. Come to think about it, that'swhy she's friends with a lot of people. She knows practically the whole ANBU squad, especially Neji, and she's best friends with Tenten, Ino, and Hinata. Temari andshe are pretty good pals, too, and she even gets along with Kiba and Shikamaru... but that's mainly because Ino drags the poor guy everywhere she goes."

"So she's popular."

"I guess so," the fox-demon holder shrugged with his reply. "Why does it matter to you?"

"She was my teammate." It was a weak defense, and he knew it.

"Yeah. She was your teammate, and mine, too. But I didn't leave her in tears when you followed Orochimaru. She didn't do anything for days." Naruto gave Sasuke an unreadable look. "Look, Sasuke-teme, I have to meet Hinata. Can you manage not to run off again and get into town by yourself?"

Sasuke bit back a retort and nodded, starting to walk already. His thoughts were on, of course, Sakura and her newfound popularity. Why did it bother him so much? As he walked down the familiar streets, people stopped and stared, pointed and whispered. He didn't care. He was used to it.

He nodded in lazy acknowledgement to the people he knew: Lee, Tenten, Shino. Ino shrieked out loud when she saw him, and dragged Shikamaru over to say hi. After a while, though, Sasuke's feet carried him to the hospital, and to a young girl with blonde hair and a peppy smile. "Is Haruno Sakura here?"

The girl looked at Sasuke, and recognition dawned on her face. She flushed madly. "Sasuke-san! You're back! We were all so worried, I assure yo-"

"Is she or isn't she?" Sasuke asked, impatience swelling. "I don't have time for you to gawk and fawn over me." His words came out cruel and more biting than he wanted, but it got the job done. The girl blushed even more, turning her face ompletely red, and nodded, muttering an embarrassed "room forty-six" as she reached for a clipboard. The Uchiha prodigy immediately turned and headed towards said room, a growing apprehension in his stomach. Anxienty was eating at his senses. What if she hated him? What would he say? And above all, once more, WHY DID HE CARE?

And then, there she was. She was standing over Hyuuga Neji, who had a deep gash in his arm and many smaller bruises and scratches everywhere else. Her pink hair was at the tip of her shoulder blades, put into a messy bun to keep it back, though some pink strands fell seductively over her cheekbones. She was curvy and not too skinny, but not fat, and her skin was a pale peach. Her eyes, still that radiant jade, those eyes that had kept Sasuke awake at night, were concentrating on the wounds that she was pouring her chakra into, trying to heal. "Neji-kun," she murmured with concern, "what happened this time? You're always getting hurt!"

-kun. The suffix that she'd only used for him.

But that was at age twelve. Things were different now.

"Fuuma shuriken," the Hyuuga said, looking at Sakura with... what was that look? Respect? Compassion? Love? Whatever it was, it made Sasuke angry.

Sakura bandaged the ANBU member's cuts and sighed with a smile and a shake of her head. "You really should be more careful, Neji-kun. I'm getting tired of having you in here." It was a remark made only to spite Neji, and he smirked.

"Sorry to put you out, Sakura-chan." He struggled to sit up with his hurt arms, then, realizing it was futile, gave up. Sakura helped him, though, placing an arm under his and grasping his bare chest to pull him up. As she did so, a light blush caressed her cheeks, and she smiled an easy smile.

Sasuke had seen enough. He was seething. He clared his throat, and the two ninja turned thier heads to the doorway. Neji showed no surprise, as always, but Sakura was the picture of shock. "S-sasuke?"

"Sakura." He nodded. "Hyuuga."

She put a hand to her mouth, green eyes widened in amazement as Neji uttered a quiet, curt "Uchiha". "You're back!" she let out in a loud whisper.

He nodded again, unsure, for once, of what to say. He was at a loss for words as he gazed over her figure, her face... why did she have to be so damn beautiful?

She ran over and hugged him. It wasn't a lover's hug, a desperate hug, or a welcome-back hug. It was a relieved, friendlyhug. "I'm so glad you're okay."

Sasuke hugged her back, surprising himself as much as her. "Me, too," he said. Over Sakura's head, he saw Neji scowling. The Uchiha gave the ANBU member a smug smile and pulled Sakura a little closer. There's one point, and he's not been in town twenty minutes. But yet again, why did he care?

They released each other, Sakura's cheeks again a light pink, this time from contact with Sasuke. "I have to finish with Neji-kun," she said.

He nodded, incensed at Neji's triumphant face. "When can I see you?"

"See me?"

"We have a lot to catch up on."

"Well, after this Gaara-kun and I are training... if Tsunade-sensei doesn't call for me, I can meet you for ramen at six..."

"Sounds good." Gaara? Training with Gaara? His blood was boiling, and he hated himself for being so jealous. "Arigato, Sakura-chan." He gave Neji a brusque nod and another smirk. "Hyuuga."

"Uchiha." A scowl. "Sakura-chan, can I have some water?"

Neji's scowl transformed into another smirk as Sakura held a glass of the liquid to his lips.

Sasuke fumed and left. What is wrong with me? Let Neji be taken care of by Sakura... what does it matter? And why, curse it, WHY does she have to be so damn gorgeous?

"Damn Hyuuga," he cursed soundly as he kicked a rock into a tree, making one of the branches snap off, "and Gaara."

It was all their fault, anyway. Without his jealousy, he probably wouldn't even be so- dare he even think it? -infatuated with Sakura.

Not in love, like Neji the Idiot obviously was.

Just infatuated.


Sasuke's rage imploded inside of him and he gave a roar of anger. "DAMN IT!"


Hey! New story! I hope you guys like it; this is just the prologue, so it'll get better and longer very soon. The idea came to me on a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. There are going to be three pairings in this story: Saku/Neji, Saku/Sasu, and Saku/Gaa. Make sure to tell me which one you like! There'll be several chapters for each of them.

Ja ne, my loves!

- Aine