Sakura sighed. Sasuke looked straight ahead, bottomless-black eyes clouded in thought.

Probably about some fighting technique, or how annoying I am. Or about that pretty fan girl just then. Sakura thought miserably.

For the first time, and probably the last, Sakura and Sasuke were walking together, if not several feet apart. They were on their way to meet up with Naruto for some sort of "surprise". No doubt a botched attempt at edible ramen.

"…never mind."

She shoved her hands in her pockets and kept her head down, trying to match his footsteps out of boredom.

"Oh, and Sasuke?"


"…forget it."

Sakura bit her lip and let her pink hair fall into her eyes. What was the use? It was pretty obvious he didn't feel the same way. Sakura knew what Sasuke hated and…hated even more: he didn't like whiny girls, clingy people, idiots (Naruto was an exception), people who talked too much, that kind of thing.

So Sakura tried to maintain neutrality on these points that she kept foremost in her mind. And where had it gotten her? No where. It had probably just done worse.

"What happened to "Sasuke-kun"?" His bored, monotonous voice made her jump.

"Oh, uh…I grew up." She drew a shaky breath and looked away.

How embarrassing.


Sasuke snatched a glance at Sakura's turned head, her hair whipping in the wind. Her frame was thin, her skin paling. Truthfully, he had missed her name for him, how she used to sometimes whisper it when something was wrong, and how his heart would wrench and he had to restrain himself from running over to her and just holding her.

Now, Sakura was no longer the innocent, vulnerable, insane and crazy Sakura. She was hard, toughened, not-so-weak Sakura.

And it pained him to know that it was all his fault.

But was she really all that tough? He watched now as she took a hand out of her pocket, shaking like a piece of paper in the wind. Thin fingers pulled back hair to reveal a hollow profile. Sasuke's fists clenched in his pockets.

"Are you…never mind." She started.


"Nothing. Just forget it."

"What were you going to say."

"Nothing! It. Was. Nothing!" She turned to face him, exasperated. He stared at her.

"You don't get any less annoying, do you?"

She stared back. She closed her eyes, shook and lowered her head. Her composure broke.

"I'm sorry." She whispered. "I just wanted to know if you were okay. It's getting cold. Not like the famous Uchiha Sasuke could be anything less than fine." She spat.

She avoided his gaze and continued walking.

"Come on. We're late."


"SAKURA-CHAN!" Naruto raced over to her, grinning ear-to-ear.

"Close your eyes! It's a surprise!" Reluctantly, Sakura closed her eyes, unable to stop a grin spreading across her own face. He led her away.

"Come on, Sasuke. It's a surprise for Sakura!" Sakura cringed at the last bit. He wasn't walking. He was being forced to come.

"Alright, what is i—Oh, thank you so much, Naruto! No one has ever done this for me…ever."

Laid out in front of her was the best birthday any girl could ask for.

"So, where're the prezzies, idiot?" She joked, nudging him in the ribs.

"Oh," he scratched his head, "I told Sasuke to pike up something." He looked up expectantly.

"Oh. I forgot." Sasuke said lazily.

Sakura plastered a smile on her face. "That's alright. This is perfect. I was only joking."


Hours later, Naruto was out cold, sprawled on the couch and snoring quietly. Sakura sat, watching the sky turn dark. Suddenly, she felt a presence behind her and turned quickly, startled.



Sakura pursed her lips and turned back. Sasuke placed two hands on her shoulders and felt her tense.

"What is it, Sasuke?" She said with a sigh. Sasuke gatherd up his courage.

"You don't know how long I've been waiting to do this, so don't get mad at me—"

Sakura turned to face him, skepticism written all over her face.

And then, Sasuke's lips were upon her own, prying open her mouth, kissing her.

A kiss she could have gotten lost in.

She broke away quickly, shock paralyzing her. Sasuke stared back, anxiety making his heart race. Surely that was a yes?...

"Why did you do that?" She breathed, still unbelieving. He took a step closer.

"Because…because…" He couldn't say it. His damn pride.

"Because you love me." He bowed his head, ashamed. She looked beyond pissed.

"What! So you thought you would give a poor girl some hope and kiss her! Because you thought she loved you! Well, newsflash, Sasuke, this girl doesn't have hope anymore. She gave up on it a LONG time ago. And if you cared about anything besides yourself, you would have heard that I've grown up! I don't cling to fantasies anymore! I'm with someone who actually loves me, Sasuke! Now can you smile and be happy for me?" She smiled tearfully. "He loves me Sasuke. He loves me."