Disclaimer: Not mine.


"I'll follow thee and make a heaven of hell,

To die upon the hand I love so well."

-William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Her face was flushed, shining with sweat and tears. The way her breath came ragged, between bruised and parted lips made him not want to kill her. She didn't plead, just kneeled in front of him, dying slowly and refusing to tear her eyes from his.

Any reasonable person would have said something, maybe wept a little, he thought vaguely. He had to kill her...had to kill his last vestige of remorse.

And he could do it, if only she would stop staring up at him, ignoring the blood that seeped between her fingers from the gash at her side. Her pink tongue flickered out, moistening her lips. A trickle of blood dripped down her pale chin.

Kill her. Be rid of her! He knew that killing her would kill the last spark, the last pang, of anything human inside of him. Had Orochimaru-sensei gone through this, this grueling test? Had Itachi? Finally she spoke, voice little more that a gasp, a desperate intake of breath.

"I…love you."

That was all it took. Now he opened his mouth, let the words spill out, feeling the heat and weight of each one.

"Why? Why do you say that! I killed you!"

She raised one hand from the wound at her side, blood dripping down her pale arm. "Not yet."

And she smiled.

She actually smiled.

Not a very good smile, but it was a smile. And he couldn't say anything.

"So?" Her voice was more strained now, and her eyes filled with fresh tears, "Finish me off. I don't care."

His hands twisted into complex signs, a jutsu that even Sakura couldn't decipher. She shut her eyes, and tears leaked through the sides, down her pale cheeks. She raised one crimson-splattered hand from her side and tried to wipe away the blood that ran thick from her mouth.

Sasuke could feel the desperate energy building up, he felt the chakra running freely in the tiny gap between his hands. He had to kill her. He had to kill her now. But she had opened her glittering eyes again and was staring at him with tears leaking down her blood stained cheeks. And her breaths were slowing now, more ragged and less panting. She was so small on her grassy grave, a pale, bloody, beautiful, dying creature on the forest floor. And she looked like she would be sobbing but she didn't have the energy. He didn't have to kill her. She was already gone.

He let his hands fall limply to his sides and felt the chakra roar back through his body. Sakura gasped as a fresh flow of blood began from the wound at her side. The ground was dark with her blood, her beautiful blood.

He had done this to her! His own hands had wounded his Sakura. He sank down on his knees next to her as memories flooded his mind.

Fevered dreams had woken him, and he was no longer the same. He could feel it, the terrifying power that encased him, that was encased by him. And the first thing he saw was Sakura, lying battered and bruised on the ground. The words that came from his mouth sounded unfamiliar to him, his voice sounded different, "Who did this to you, Sakura?"

And the hot-headed bastard came forward finally. Blinded by rage, Sasuke had run at him, and, overcome with anger at the one who had harmed Sakura, he had broken the man's arms.

And she had stopped him. Her arms around him had stopped him. And in that moment, when she was embracing him, he wanted to remain like that forever

And now he was nothing but a hypocrite. He felt tears flood his eyes, something that hadn't happened in years and years, and then he was holding Sakura in his arms and crying with her. He wanted to tell her he was sorry, but he couldn't even form the words.

She had taken her hands from her wounded side and was embracing him now too, gasping and sobbing into his shoulder. And because he couldn't say sorry, he kissed her instead.

She kissed him back, and although all he could taste was her blood, he knew that this was all he wanted.

But when she broke the kiss and began to cough he knew she was dying. But he knew he could stop it, she couldn't die, she had to live. It was Sakura, she always had to be there.

And as he tore off his own shirt and tried to stop the bleeding he realized that all of these years he had thought of her as simply a girl with a crush. And perhaps if he had known back then that she was so much more than that he wouldn't have left.

It couldn't be too late, though, it couldn't. And Sakura was trying to speak, but she couldn't, so she was just gasping for her words and Sasuke had tears running down his face and this was how she was going to die and it was over, over, overover, over, over…

Sasuke never returned to Sound. When Orochimaru sent out a search team they found his body, battered and bloody, lying twisted in the forest.

After they buried him the flesh and bone evaporated in a flash of smoke and in their place was moulding log. But they never knew.

AN: Okay, so what just happened? Basically, I'm going to let you figure the ending out for yourself. Here's what you have to work with: Sasuke is NOT dead. Sakura may or may not be dead. The rest is up to you!

Hope you enjoyed 