6.14.06 – 6.29.06
A/N: This will probably be ridiculously long-winded and pompous and ungrammatical. Stylized and in the dreaded second person, with frightening verbosity in some parts that's made all the more obvious by rampant choppiness in other parts. So why are you reading this? And Sasuke's head (pretty as it is) is so hard to get into. But he seems like the type to just overanalyze everything: angsting, brooding, angsting, wallowing in self-pity, angsting… Still, I wouldn't quite call this fic angst. There's just a lot of it happening—Sasuke, after all, cannot be our emo poster boy for anime without some heavy pathos. That doesn't mean he can't be happy. Happiness is relative.
Summary: Oneshot. You watch her, always careful that she never sees, never realizes, never hopes for anything more than cold disdain. You wonder if you're a sadist. Or a masochist. Or maybe just stupid. You think it's probably the third. But still she smiles, breathtaking and beautiful. And for you. SasuSaku
Stand disclaimers apply—blah, blah, and blah. Naruto is not mine, Sasuke is not mine (dammit), "Hallelujah" is not mine…
As always—reviewers brighten my world.
(the minor fall and the major lift
the baffled king composing hallelujah)
You watch her. A lot. All the time. It's hard not to, and you've always been weak. You're never strong enough, not even in this, and you're such a self-deluded fool. So you continue to turn your head in her direction, eyes flickering towards her far too much for your liking, always careful that she never sees, never realizes, never hopes for anything more than cold disdain.
You wonder sometimes if you're a sadist. Or a masochist. Or maybe just stupid.
You think, with a fatalistic grimness that's close to becoming your default attitude, that it's probably the third.
So now you're a hypocrite, too. A self-deluded, foolish hypocrite, who constantly berates and taunts and mocks Naruto for his idiocy, never stopping to consider how horribly much denser you are. How terribly weaker. How much of a sniveling coward you really are under that façade of fake composure.
You're not good enough, and you know that. You've known that forever. Who told you? You can't remember, and you don't know if that's because the person had said it too long ago, or because so many people had said it that they'd all faded into a blurry procession of "not good enough—never good enough".
That doesn't matter though, because you're very good in your self-delusion—and sometimes when she looks up at you, in those first few moments of mirthful joy, before your cold, cruel words darken her eyes and pierce her heart—sometimes, she looks up at you, eyes sparkling and happy to see you—sometimes, you feel like you might actually mean something to someone. Not as the "Number One Rookie" or the prodigy with blood red, Sharingan eyes or a traitor who had turned his back on everything dear to him or the little sad orphan who needed to be pitied because his entire clan had been massacred by a psycho serial killer of a brother and, the entire time, had been too weak and too cowardly to do anything.
She smiles for you—a smile just for you, for you only, for no one else, and for that, you love her. Probably not the devoted, adoring, patient love she bestows on you—a love that's part hope and part faith and unspeakably breathtaking, and which you don't deserve, but you take for granted anyway. You love her differently. It's softer, subtler, a tranquil, gentle thing, a steady, quiet undercurrent that sometimes manages to color your carefully constructed black-and-white world in shades of pastel, and, dangerously, you find yourself liking it. In truth, you're not sure if it's even love, because you don't know what to compare it to. It's so strange, and it upsets your valued equanimity (however fake it is), and it makes you care what other people think sometimes, and it disturbs you and scares you, so you find it easier to just bury it in some dark, rotting corner of your mind, a festering wound that you're sure one day would probably release a blood clot, despite the obvious medical impossibilities of that…
You could probably ask her (about the medical impossibilities of it), because she's so clever and so knowledgeable, but you don't, because that's not what you do. You're so damnably proud sometimes.
And it would be just weird.
You watch her when she laughs, and that's when you love her the most. Or at least, that's when you allow yourself a moment's reprieve, allow yourself to feel something besides the ever-present lust for blood and vengeance (because that's what it is, and, despite yourself, you've never termed it 'justice') and the sensation of covering your hands in your brother's blood (something's terribly wrong with you, you know that, but what do you care for being normal or sane?) and laughing—laughing as he had laughed when he stood over your murdered parents, laughing as he gloried in his power, laughing as he watched your heart break into a million, jagged little pieces, your innocence flutter, dead, to the blood-stained floor, your future shatter into irreparable fragments, your soul forever stained by that night and the nights that would follow, when you would commit horrors unforgivable and sins inexcusable in the name of your selfish, tunnel-vision-ed thirst for vengeance, when you would make her cry—and was not the lowest ring of hell reserved for traitors?
Damned for all of eternity.
You find dark irony in that, because you know that you're going to hell, but you're quite damned as it is.
Because you're weak. And you're a coward. And never quite good enough.
But sometimes, when she laughs—you can forget that, and let her gentle presence soothe your, poetically, 'tortured soul.'
A cursed soul, dark and wicked, delighting in evils and sins—bloodstained—
Like your hands.
You don't touch people because you don't like people. You don't touch people because you like your personal space, your aloofness, your coldness, your detachment. It helps maintain a certain distance, and helps you separate yourself from the rest of the world because Heaven forbid if you got involved or grew attached to anyone.
You don't touch her because she's pure. You don't touch her because she's so kind and so sweet and so loving and so sincere and so untainted—and you want her to stay that way forever. You want her grandchildren to see her smile—or is it your smile, because she only smiles at you like that? You want them to bask in that radiant glow, the tangible, genuine happiness that she seems to exude—
You don't touch her because she's pure and you're not. She's fresh, unmarked snow, clean and unspoiled, and your hands are bathed in bloody vermilion, and your vision is stained scarlet, and the ground about your feet run with crimson blood.
Your life is an abattoir.
So you're content to watch her, and if you're not necessarily happy, that's fine, because you don't deserve to be happy. You don't deserve happiness, or love, or her. Most especially her.
(she broke your throne and she cut your hair
and from your lips she drew a hallelujah)
You're staring at her again, the way her hair falls into her eyes, and that irks you so badly—but who are you to judge, with your bangs practically creating some kind of mask? She sags against the bridge, her head tilted back slightly, staring up at the sky with dull, glassy eyes, tired as she waits for Naruto and Kakashi to show up. Her clothes look rumpled, out of sorts, as if the dress and shorts were irritated with each other. (You're not good with metaphors. Or similes. Or whatever it is. You've never pretended to be.) She didn't comb her hair properly that morning, you note, and her eyes are still half-lidded from sleep-deprivation, and she has her slightly disgruntled expression on, which makes you think, fondly, that she hasn't had her caffeine yet.
You think she's gorgeous.
And you must be losing your edge, because then she turns around and stares right into your eyes. You think maybe you should act nonchalant, and raise an eyebrow, cool and challenging—or maybe you should look away and busy yourself in something else—or maybe you should scowl at her as if this were somehow all her fault. But you don't. You look into her green eyes, and they're not emerald or jade or forest colored (because, really, you muse, that would be more hazel-ish) or whatever that idiot Lee had eulogized—but they're clear and they're expressive and the light that shines through is magnificent, and you hope that it never dies.
She's blushing, and you hope that she might look away, but when has anything ever conspired in your favor? And she's smiling and she wants to know what you were looking at, and how are you supposed to answer that?
You think, Nothing.
That's what you always say. What were you smiling at? Nothing. What are you looking at? Nothing. What are you thinking about? Nothing. What do you like? Nothing. What would you like to do? Nothing. What were you dreaming about? Nothing. What are you saying? Nothing.
And you surprise yourself.
But you figure, after a moment's tenseness, that she probably should know. How you love her, and how it means absolutely nothing. Because, after all, you don't deserve her. And just because you love her doesn't mean you have to be involved with her. Oh sure, you'll look after her and protect her and probably die for her in the end, but so what? You can barely look after yourself, for one. Your brother's still out there, and you've sworn yourself as an Avenger. And there's Orochimaru, and you have to kill him too. And Lee (the freak), who you've to maim, because he's been looking at her the wrong way lately. And—well, when aren't you looking for excuses to beat Naruto (idiot, you hastily correct yourself—you meant idiot) into a little smear on the ground?
So you seem to have made yourself a hit list, and that has to be taken care of. So you'll be pretty busy for the next few decades, and as much as you wish she'd wait for you, you're not stupid. Self-deluded, yes, and arrogant, but no one's ever accused you of stupidity. (Except maybe yourself.) Your brother calls you "foolish," but what does he know? As if killing the clan was some move of great tactical wisdom. He's never going to reproduce (you'll make sure of that—ohh, you'll make sure of that, all right) and you're probably not going to survive whatever final battle you may have against him, so there goes the Sharingan. Unless someone digs out Kakashi's eye. Which you doubt would probably happen—unsanitary, you think, an eyeball being passed from person to person. But, still, there goes the Sharingan blood.
(Orochimaru would be displeased, you think, and that makes you a little happier. Though you would have liked to see raven-haired children running around the Uchiha estates again. You'd like it better if they had green eyes underneath the Sharingan—though where that comes from, you're not sure. Or rather, you're quite sure, and you're just deluding yourself again. You're good at that, after all—and excellence always comes from practice.)
"The sakura trees are looking well this year," she says, finally, face still tinged pink.
"You're not very subtle," you reply, in your characteristic, insensitive way.
But she smiles, and steps closer. "No. But subtlety doesn't quite work with you, does it?"
You wonder if maybe that's an insult. You wonder if she's calling you dense. You wonder what right she has to accuse you of anything—six years of cold rebuffs, and she's still at it. But that's the difference between you and her, isn't it? With her, it's perseverance. With you, it's just stupidity. Pig-headedness. And such blatant, unashamed self-delusion.
"Suppose not," you reply, mumbling. You never mumble. You've been taught to enunciate, to pronounce each word clearly and deliberately, to speak with flawless diction. You've been taught to speak in full sentences, to speak with proper grammar, to never end a sentence with a preposition.
But who's going to make you, now? Your brother?
Your aristocratic upbringing means nothing anymore. The clan's dead, and the Uchiha name no longer carries any weight. It's not spoke with reverence and respect and awe—with fear, sometimes, and disappointment and regret, but mostly with that vulgar familiarity which comes only with constant repetition, the familiarity of being subject to constant gossip.
You hate gossip. Possibly even more than you hate Itachi, but that's a rather shaky maybe.
"—a pity, because I'm too much of a coward to do anything appropriately lewd." And she, surprisingly, sounds very regretful. "Though, out of curiosity, what would you do if I were to jump you?"
You gape at her, because, frankly, there is simply nothing else to do. Sure, you knew she's been training with Tsunade (you keep up with these things), and you knew she's been developing some sort of monstrous strength, and you suppose that one tends to be a bit more confident when one can crack the ground or level mountains with a punch—but really.
So you gawk at her, as awkwardly and inelegantly and uncouthly as the word suggests.
Immediately, she's blushing and stuttering again, reverting back to the Sakura you remember from the Academy. "I-I-I—" She stammers, fingers nervously fidgeting with the fabric of her dress. "I—m-m-mean—w-well…"
It's painful, the way she stumbles over her words, the way you can't see her eyes anymore because she's looking at anything but you. She always looks at you, and you don't like how she won't meet your gaze now. You're spoiled, you know, and you've been taking her for granted—but she has really pretty eyes and you like those eyes.
"It's—it w-w-was—I—" She suddenly shakes her head, and you suspect with sudden dread that she's probably blinking back tears.
And it really is painful how she stutters and reddens and fidgets and won't meet your eyes because love is not supposed to be painful. She shouldn't be stuttering and reddening and fidgeting and looking away (and probably crying) and you're causing all of it.
It's all your fault. It always is.
"N-never m-m-mind—I-I'm-m s-so-sorry—"
Part of you is furious, because she's always apologizing and she never has to. She shouldn't be sorry—it's not her fault. It's yours. But she's always done that for you, hasn't she? And she's never blamed you, has she? And you've never been grateful, have you?
Fie, Sasuke. Fie upon you.
A greater part of you, however, can't stand those tears, because they're annoying and weak and pitiful and pathetic and makes you want to wipe (kiss) them away. Your head hurts and something in your chest aches (though it's not like you have a heart anymore), and you suspect it's because, somewhere, a little bit of Sasuke is hurting too.
You really don't like it when she's crying.
You don't even know if she is crying.
"I hope you're not crying," you suddenly say, and you're horrified because Uchiha Sasuke does not comfort anybody. That would be sentimental. Of course, your traitorous mouth continues to blather, "You'll give yourself a headache, and then your concentration will be thrown off balance for training today, and then you'll probably get hurt, and I'll have to feel bad, because—well, I made you cry, didn't I? And I'm not very good at apologizing, so you'd best stop."
You don't think you've ever said so much at once in the last eleven years. Maybe your whole life, because even before Itachi's great stroke of genius, you were never quite a chatterbox. Or rather, you were, but no one really listened to you (except, ironically, your dear nii-san)—there were always your brother's profoundly flippant (oxymoronic, but he managed somehow) remarks to ponder.
"Oh." She says, and then—"I'm sorry."
"Don't be," you answer brusquely, because you're fuming again. You wish she'd stop apologizing, and just let you be castigated for your faults. You wish she'd stop assuming that any fault is hers because it's not. You wish she'd stop burdening herself with your sins.
She shouldn't have to burden herself with anything.
She was made to be happy.
"Don't be," you say again, but it's gentler, softer this time. It's not tender and it's not warm, but you don't know if you'd ever be able to pull that off.
She doesn't look up, though, and that unsettles you. She always looked up when you spoke. She always cared. You had—you had mattered.
There's something soft and smooth and small in your hands and you look down. And you understand why she hadn't looked up. And suddenly you wish you could cut off your hands because they were such traitors, such traitors.
But you don't, because it would be rather bad if you couldn't perform seals. And you'd be dreadfully handicapped (you don't make puns—ever) for life, so you'd probably have to be dependent on other people and you hate being dependent on anybody. But mostly because you like the feeling of her hand in yours.
"Sasuke," she says, finally looking up, eyes wide and clear and so green and—happy. It's a tremulous sort of happiness—not so loud as joy, nor so steady as contentment, not so bland as pleasure, nor so oblivious as bliss. (Those would come later, you silently promise her, before you pause, and hastily crush that thought.) It's wavering and fragile and delicate—wretched and sublime—and it's so maddening because she's looking at you with so much hope and you've never been anything but a disappointment to everyone who knew you.
You'd die to keep that happiness there. Of course, that would be sentimental and you don't 'do' sentimental, but whatever. However much she's tried to convince you otherwise, it's not like your life is worth very much. The Hokage must have little interest in keeping you alive, and Orochimaru cares only about the body. And her happiness is so preciously infectious—everyone's happy when Sakura's happy. So it's a good trade, your life for her happiness, a perfectly rational thing, perfectly dutiful, perfectly unsentimental.
Her eyes are really green. And sparkling. And pretty.
That gets you (to stop) thinking (rationalizing) and you're wondering why you spend so much energy deluding yourself, when everyone would just be so much happier if you admitted the obvious. Except maybe your brother—but he can rot in Hell for all you care. (Or rather, you care enough to make sure he rots in Hell.) And maybe Lee would be saddened—but you're pretty sure his flaming torch of youth will burn on. And you wonder why you're thinking about evil villains and weird freaks when you could be kissing your—what had Kakashi called it?—lady love.
She has nice lips. Lovely color. Probably really soft.
"Hn." You've been staring at her mouth, and when did she get so close? Why are you hovering over her?
"Are you going to kiss me?"
No hovers on the tip of your tongue. A scathing rebuke rises in your throat. You feel tempted to scoff, to remind her that you are Uchiha Sasuke who could be asexual for all the attention he pays to the opposite sex (women, that is, since asexuals don't…have an opposite sex, you think. Hermaphrodites, maybe?) and what made her think that she was so special and would she never learn?
You're leaning down, and she's smiling faintly with that slightly disbelieving look on her face, and it's so terribly unromantic, this first kiss, which is not so terrible, after all, because you've never been one for romance, but you think she would have maybe liked kissing in the rain or a flurry of cherry blossoms to fall from the trees or some heartfelt, passionate declaration like the ones Lee spouts with frightening regularity.
The warmth of her breath tickles your lips.
And there is an expression of such—such faith and such hope and such love—this beautiful, broken, divine thing that she calls love and you call salvation—in her eyes and your (nonexistent) heart aches because you can't (possibly) understand her patience, can't understand why she would be willing to wait so long.
You were such an idiot making her wait.
Every bit of self-control you've accumulated over the years crumbles, the walls you've carefully raised are torn down into rubble, and you don't care because you're kissing her and she's kissing you and you brush your lips over her, softly, lightly, briefly, once, twice, thrice, and a furrow forms between her eyebrows, and she tilts her head upward, a clear invitation. You're so close to her, and it's intoxicating, and your breath stirs the wisps of hair that fell over her face. And your restraint is completely gone, and before you can consider the repercussions of your actions, the consequences you always calculate so carefully, before your mind has the chance to analyze anything—your mouth descends on hers, and it's hard and it's desperate and it's beautiful, and her arms wrap around your neck and you're crushing her slight frame to your lean one, and it goes on and on and you want it to never stop—
"I don't deserve you," you whisper raggedly when you finally pull back, your forehead resting against hers.
She reaches up, threading her fingers through your hair, a slightly marveling look on her face. She smiles, the compassionate, loving smile that mends, piece by piece, the shattered, splintered remains of your broken heart.
"Nor I you," she whispers back.
And somehow, somehow, with those words, she manages to bleed your heart of its darkness.
(love is not a victory march
it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah)
You love her and she loves you.
You don't tell her, but she knows. You let her see the way you watch her now, let her catch, however fleetingly, the half-smile that always forms when she's around. You take her hand sometimes, and you hold tight, and she still looks down, every time, a look of unconcealed delight and amazement flitting across her face (and you think that's ridiculous, because the real miracle is that she accepted you—you're the lucky one), before she looks up at you, radiant and glowing.
You think, maybe she'll share that look with her grandchildren. Your grandchildren.
You don't say much, but that's how you've always been. You're not a talker—you're a listener and a doer, and you like hearing her speak, her lilting voice rising and falling in a rich cadence, and it never really matter what the words are. She's there, and she speaks to you, and that's enough.
You wonder if she wishes for the constant reassurance that Ino seems to crave, but you've never been good with words. So you show her, in your silent gestures—and if you don't say much or aren't eloquent, at least you're coherent in your silence. And you let her see the way your eyes soften when the rest on her, and at night, you hold her close, because she doesn't like the dark (you find that ironic), and you make breakfast for her, and you always wait up for her when she comes home late at night, because she matters.
You don't say much, ever, but sometimes you do smile, a fleeting, rare half-smile.
And she understands. She tells you, every morning and every night, "I love you, Sasuke." You smile that half-smile of yours, and you bend down to kiss her, because you love her too. And you mean it, too, even if the words never quite make their way out of your mouth. You mean it.
I love you. I love you love you love you.
You rarely say it, seldom speak of it, but you understand each other, and you love her probably all the more for that.
Some things can't be expressed with mere, hollow words.
And only in the silence can she hear the steady rhythm of your heart beating in harmony with hers.
(every breath we drew was hallelujah)
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