"Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself." -Antonie Saint


The chidori crackled with an inferno of chakra. Its blue light spiraled manically around the pale palm, dug deep inside the tender flesh of another. Blood spurted slightly, matching the color of both sharingan eyes.

Sasuke did not try to remove his fist from the stained robe as his opponent spoke in that unaffected tone, even in death.

"So little brother, you have finally gained the power to kill me."

The younger Uchiha smirked against his weariness. "I promised to kill you didn't I, traitor?"

Itachi kept that mildly interested look upon his handsomely worn face as his life sapped speedily away, pushing him toward the gray gates.

"Traitor, yes I may be that. But what of you little brother? What crimes have you committed for this power?"

The smirk was quickly replaced by a scowl as his smooth brow lined. "I did it though! I killed you, bastard."

A slow, easy smile spread on the kin-slayer. It displaced the features greatly, having seen so little of the upturned lips. Crimson liquid stained the ground, flowing unchecked from the hole in the great criminal's abdomen. The raven-hued hair, so carefully bound, was free and tattered. At that moment, the elder Uchiha looked every inch the madman he was.

"No, foolish, little one. You have become me."


Cold sweat rolled off his body, his mouth automatically opening for the line he had screamed next.


However Sasuke bit the inside of his mouth until the metallic taste of blood came to keep from yelling. Black eyes wide, well-formed body shivering, he breathed heavily through his nose. It took the lone survivor a few moments to steady his heart rate and slow his breathing. He shut his eyes, sighing in frustration as the light sheet was roughly thrown from his pale being.

That memory... why does it keep coming back?

Without a hint of exhaustion, the Uchiha threw open his washroom door and turned the shower knob on to cold. Still wearing his dark, sweaty, boxers the teen jumped into the crescendo of droplets.

Why does it haunt me? Killing Itachi was my dream. That was the best moment in my life!

The chill sunk to his bones, relaxing the nin's tense muscles slightly. His shadowy hair plastered to his handsomely cold face. Time halted for his thoughts, lying quiet in the dark. A bittersweet, pain-filled smirk crossed his features. The obsidian eyes lost their shimmer under dark emotions.

Even after I kill you, you will not leave me in peace... huh brother?

The boy cursed, sending his first crashing into the tile wall. The carefully-laid panes shattered and the wall dented. Burgundy rivulets formed from his closed fist, clashing with the stark white of the hand.

It was all supposed to be good now. Why isn't it? What did I do wrong?

The sharingan master demanded to the fates between clenched teeth. The water came to a splutter and finally halted altogether. His angry assault had hit the pipe.

"Revenge won't make anyone happy... not you or me..."

Words of long ago answered unbidden in his mind. The dark male bit his mouth again to keep from screaming. Focusing on keeping cool and not destroying his house, he automatically grabbed a fan-backed jacket on the way to his door. The genius had to get out now, or else more damage would be done to the estate.

The dark slate of late night and early morning greeted him full-faced. The shinobi continued to walk, not minding on bit the rain that continually pattered down. He was already wet, after all.

Those were her words.

He recognized them now, and subconsciously the image of the kunoichi came to his mind.

Haruno Sakura

Sasuke paused in his carefully measured gait.

"I don't know who is more annoying anymore, my brother or... her."


The Haruno daughter had grown up, and grown out of her obsession for a certain black-eyed shinobi. Her slender form curved out nicely, and curiously wide forehead smoothed out. Time had graced the woman with her own kind of charming beauty, the flower of Konoha.

The pink-haired nin packed her scrolls back into the white bag. With a smile and a wave she left the elderly couple, trudging easily back to her village.

I have to remember to report to Tsunade-sama before I go back home. The medic reminded herself, stretching an arm back as her feet easily glided between the dens foliage.

Hm... a nice, hot shower. I have to meet Ino for dinner, but before then I can study those medical jutsus...

Her thoughts ambled around as the morning light played with her porcelain features. Doe-like eyes were gleaming with happiness.

Maybe I should take Naruto out for ramen tomorrow. He comes back from that two-week long mission, after all...

However thinking of her blond friend made her eyes darken a bit. A small frown worked its way onto her features.


"Hey, Sakura-chan," The lack of tackling enthusiasm in his greeting told her that something was up.

Turning around in her chair and moving her green eyes away from the book she was studying, the distinguishable medic looked up at her best friend.

"What's up Naruto?"

The fox rubbed the back of his neck, a sign of sure embarrassment. "I just wanted to ask you... about Sasuke."

The kunoichi tensed. She had been expecting something along the lines of 'You know that vase Ino gave you last year... you didn't like it that much did you? Cause there was this funny thing...'

Quickly recovering, she automatically placed a smile on her delicate features.

"What about Sasuke?"

Uzumaki gave her a hard look with his piercing blue eyes. "Don't mess with me Sakura-chan. I'm not that stupid."

She hated it when he acted mature. It was something that was bound to happen over time. Years spent in a war had aged both ninja. But most of the time Naruto still acted like the number one, hyperactive knucklehead he was. However when the adult button switched on...

"I never said you were. You're the one that came barging in here asking questions." The cherry blossom replied after a moment.

The Kyuubi rolled his eyes. "Well let's see... the guy's been back for three weeks and you haven't seen him once."

"I've been busy." She lied truthfully.

It didn't work with her childhood teammate. "You can't avoid him forever. Stupid Sasuke already wonders why your not doting on his toenail clippings. "

"He—He asked about me?" The intelligent woman suddenly sounded very idiotic. She made a mental note to slap herself later for that.

A big grin reappeared on the shinobi's face. "Yeah, with a really constipated face too! Haha, he doesn't know what to do with just me there..."

Sakura winced, imagining a hospital-bound Uchiha left alone with his rival for long periods of time. No one deserved that kind of torture.

"When I get the chance I'll go see him." Hokage's apprentice promised.

The nine-tailed vessel surveyed his friend. "He's out of the hospital today."

"That's good,"

"Promise me that you'll see him while I'm away on the mission. It leaves you two weeks."


"Promise!" He stuck his pinky out impatiently.

"Why do you care so much?" Haruno finally asked, exasperated.

The orphan gave her another wise glance. "You asked me, a few years back to bring Sasuke Uchiha back to Konoha. I gave you the promise of a lifetime—"

Something in her chest clenched and the pink-haired medic placed a hand above her heart, suddenly pained.

"—And I finally drag his mangled ass back home, and you won't even see him."

There was a small amount of silence in which the pretty nin took the time to close her eyes from the oncoming tears.

"I'm sorry Naruto. I...I didn't realize it meant so much to you." She managed a soft smile on her face. "I'll go see him if it means that much for you."

He pouted. "I don't want you to do it for me Sakura-chan. Don't you want to see Sasuke?"

The silent question rang the loudest.

Don't you still love him?

"You know... I...I wasn't that mad at him for leaving me." Stupid, the tears were sounding from her cracked voice.

Uzumaki listened in silence, his brilliant eyes worried.

"But when we found you... for a moment there wasn't a pulse and I thought..." Her frail shoulder shook, but still tears were fought off.

I won't be weak like that again!

"What Sasuke did to you, I don't think I can ever forgive. But if you want me to then I'll try."

The kunoichi turned abruptly and walked out of the room, wanting the quiet of her apartment.

A hand still outstretched, Naruto whispered.



I should keep my promise to Naruto, after all he kept his.

With that determined thought, the pink-hair dashed through the trees until the wooden gates of her home loomed on before her.

After all, I only have to talk to him. Nothing bad can come of a little talk...

Those naive words repeated in her head afterwards.


The Uchiha genius knew his other teammate was avoiding him. While the dobe came in everyday to poke fun, and in his own way, welcome his best friend back home; the once-doting girl had eluded him for the past few weeks. As it was, only Tsunade and Kakashi had taken the liberty of visiting the successful missing nin. The Hokage came to pass sentence—probation for 18 months, random ANBU check-ups for six-months, and any information on Konoha's number one enemy: Orochimaru.

Kakashi entered to both irritate, welcome, and lecture his former student. He did it all in his strangely calm, relaxed way with a goodbye comment along the lines of 'Did the famous Uchiha have some fun with pretty Sound ninja while he was away?'

The silver-haired jonin learned that morning that even a bed-confined Sasuke was pointedly accurate as he rubbed a sore spot on his head.

But no Sakura. At first it was a relief, then an annoyance. Annoyed because he was too damn curious. After all, what could keep the stupid kunoichi from her precious 'Sasuke-kun'. He finally cracked and muttered a question to the blond idiot after three weeks, the day before he was discharged from the hospital.

Uzumaki had laughed and made a big scene before sobering up to plainly say that the weakling of Team 7 was avoiding him.

Now that shocked the shinobi. And on some level, disturbed him.

However that had been almost five weeks ago.

After that dream last night... I should go find her and ask what the hell is her problem.

Aggressive in his thoughts, Sasuke sought out Haruno for the first time in his life.


No one was ever quite sure who found who later on. But as it was, for the first time in over years, the dark boy and the light girl met.

Chartreuse eyes widened and a small 'o' of surprise formed on her lips.

It's...It's him!

The coral-haired woman looked over the man before her. Young Sasuke-kun had grown in the handsome fire-ice ways. She involuntarily was forced to admit, roving over lean, powerful muscle built for speed and fluctuation of chakra. But the moment her gaze moved up to his eyes, a nostalgic smile caught her lips.

But those eyes, they're the same as always.

And for the briefest of moments, she allowed her inner-child to believe that her once-ago love had never left, that it was still the quietly intense boy right before her.


But than the mental image of herself, leaning over her fox brother, pumping enough chakra into his body to keep him alive until they reached the hospital.

No, it can't be like that. Not again.


Obsidian orbs narrowed scrutinizingly. The former sound nin took in her gained height (a foot or so, she was still shorter than him), her slender albeit filled out form( He determinedly avoided the chest area. He was an Uchiha, and Uchiha did not go there with pink-haired princesses.), the way her eyes had softened in quality(Hn, still soft), and the strangely large forehead had vanished( Maybe her IQ had dropped as well, the look on her face certainly suggested it.)

This saves me from having to find her.

But unbidden, the memory of the last time he saw the female of Team 7 rose up.

"Please, stay!"


"I—I love you... I love you so much! I know I still have friends and family... b-but if you leave... for me, that is the same as being alone."

"You know... after all this, you're still annoying."

"If you leave, I'll scream real loud and—"


"Thank you,"


He was suddenly glad that is was high day and the sun was smiling happily. It would have been a bit more tense if it was night... and the moon was shining.

Speaking of tense, the genius noticed that his body reacted to what his mind could barely grasp. Every muscle was tightened and defensive, as if to ward off attack. It struck him them, as silence engulfed the two lone figures on the alley.

The survivor had no idea what to say.


"Hi Sasuke... It's been awhile." Sakura broke the uneasily silence first with a tight smile.

Dark eyes flashed in surprise.


Stupid asshole, he could at least try to keep this conversation from going to hell. "I'm glad to see you have gotten out of the hospital."

The trademark smirk quirked on his lips and buried thoughts rose like bile in her chest.

"It was pointless, with only the dobe..." Sasuke let a silent question hang in the air.

The kunoichi gave a soft wink. "Yeah, sorry about that. I've been pretty busy with some medical jutsus Tsunade-sensei showed me."

She still had that innate habit of babbling sociably whenever shoved into a corner.

The pale shinobi folded his hands over his chest. "Of what sort?"

Beaming at his interest, she continued on about the new aspects of chakra control and human anatomy.

The prodigy stayed silent, listening impassively.

"Hn," He uttered the cliché noise after another silence lapsed.

The cherry blossom decided the easiest way out of this tension. With a friendly wave, she spoke.

"Well, have a nice day Sasuke... and I suppose a belated welcome back!"

Intense, unfathomable eyes bored into her retreating back. They flashed in surprise.

Not once had she latched onto him, asked for a date... hell, she hadn't even added the suffix to his name. He was just Sasuke now.

Is this really Sakura?

And on that day things changed between the two.


"Hello Aya-chan, lovely morning isn't it?"

"Why yes Karina-chan. How are you?"

"Good, my lazy Korina signed up for the Academy."

"How nice,"

"Karina, have you heard the word?"

"What gossip have you dreg up now Aya dear?"

"It's about that Uchiha traitor and the Haruno girl."

"The sweet medic! What does she have to do with him?"

"They say that the two have spent a lot of time together, everyone's seen them."

"Doing what?"

"Well... nothing romantic, that traitor is probably too cold for that. But Kamina-chan saw them walking together for the past few weeks."

"Just walking?"

"And they eat at the ramen stand together, and sometimes with that... you know..."

"That boy? My, what horrible company that girl has."

"Yes, but you know I was talking to Aiko-chan yesterday. She reckons that those two are more than friends..."



After a short sneezing fit that Sasuke rolled his eyes at, Sakura continued their conversation.

"Haha, someone must be talking about me."

A dark look crossed the shinobi's face. "You know... there are rumors."

The medic blinked, surprised. But then a curious smile crossed her features.

"And what gossip concerns the might Uchiha?"

She received a glare, but the power of her renewed friendship with the boy showed in the simple fact that he replied.

"It's about you."

Now, that was surprising. Since when was the Hokage's top apprentice interesting enough for village talk?

"Oh, and what does it say?"

The black-eyed male stopped, staring at her with an inner battle raging inside him.

"People say... they sat that..."

"Ah, Sasuke is something wrong?" She input, worried about his strange behavior.

"That we're an item." He snapped out finally.

"An it—" The full implication hit Haruno and she blushed while chuckling.

"Well, isn't that ridiculous? Imagine where they got that idea!" She babbled on happy, oblivious to the strange look in his deep eyes.

The male ninja watched her for a few more moments.

"I like it."

It took the flower a full two minutes to actually understand what her former teammate had just said.

"W-what?" The distinguishable woman gaped.

A feral, strong desire roared inside the stoic teen. It was the same one that awoke yesterday when he caught some villagers talking about 'that Haruno girl' and her 'scandal'. When a large fisherman had input his opinion, something inside the survivor snapped. That man had met a roaring fire jutsu.

All logical thoughts shed, and blood elevated levels shot up. Sasuke took another step, closing in the gap between them. Refusing to back down, he placed one hand under her chin. After a short moment of their eyes meeting, the Uchiha brought his lips to hers.

Sakura stood in shock, the feeling of surprisingly warm lips brushing against hers. Strong arms moved down to clench her shoulders almost painfully.

They stood like that until the pink-haired girl heard alarm bells ringing in her had. Hastily pulling away, she stumbled. Doe-like eyes glued onto a frowning, raven-haired teen.

"W-what just... Did you just... What the hell?" The medic finally summed up, hands in the air.

"Calm down,"

"Calm-Calm down! You just... kissed me!"

"And so you scream it to the world."

But the kunoichi had enough of her smart-ass friend. She needed to get away. Now. Before her self-defense shot up and Sasuke ended up with a super-human fist in his face.

So the girl ran.


"No foolish little one. You have become me."

Konoha was bathed in it. Blood. The river was a light crimson, and burgundy blotched paved the streets. The sky hung in a dreary gray, desiring to contrast with the bold red and reflect the silent of death. Bodies: people he knew, people he had seen, torn by some atrocious force. Mangled corpses ripped to shreds so organs and bones stuck out at odd angles. Dangling limply from poles, tables, and some wallowing in the dirt.

He was running through his hometown. Fear, sorrow, anger, they all gave strength to his legs.

It happened again! How did he let this happen? Years of his life wasted chasing after the first murderer. He had sacrificed his own childhood, his chance at a purer path, to kill Itachi. But he had been too weak to stop it again. Still, he went on through Konoha, sharingan looking for two particular faces.


Sakura's mind was whirling with emotions. Her feet guided themselves. She hadn't noticed anything until green eyes spotted a lone woman standing quite still a few feet from her. The nurturing nurse kicked on, as it started to rain. Heavy clouds rolled on and still the woman stood without movement.

I need something to keep my mind off of this. I'll help this woman.

The clever girl decided finally, trudging up to the other figure.

The stranger was middle-aged and attractive. Dark, raven-colored hair fell down in gentle waves. It framed her pale face with vaguely familiar features. Curving black eyes were not looking at anything in general, soft and detached.

"Miss, is there anything wrong?" The confused flower asked, forcing a smile on her face.

Don't think about it. Don't think about him. Just... help her.

The woman turned to focus on her, and the pink-haired kunoichi thought her familiar.

"It is funny." Her voice was soft and silky, and sad.

"What?" The medic asked, stepping closer to look for any fluctuation in her aura that might read of madness.

"Love, it is so very different then we think."

Tsunade's apprentice began checking the chakra levels of the compliant person. "How so?"

"We think that to love is to forgive. We think love itself is perfection and happiness."

Pushing back up the sleeve of the woman's jacket the younger female turned to look at those warm, pressing black eyes.

"And what is love?" She asked finally, breaking her gaze.

The pale-skinned elder smiled small. "Love does not require forgiveness. It needs no response at all actually. True love simply is, and will always exists despite circumstances. It cannot waver or change. Love is painful and aching, yet sweet and intoxicating. That is life, and that is love."

Sakura clenched a hand above her painfully ramming heart.

I... Do I still love Sasuke? Even after all this!

"Little one," the woman now addressed her, dark eyes focused. "Don't give up on him We are all doomed to death. Love is the only magic left.

Rain spattered down porcelain cheeks as she allowed the water to cleanse her confusion.

I do, after all this time... I still love Sasuke

Sakura turned around to run back toward the Uchiha district. She never noticed the stranger smile once before fading into the storm, her mission complete.

She is a good choice, my son.


He found Kakashi on accident. The jounin's abdomen had a gaping hole right through it that seemed suspiciously familiar. Blood oozed weakly out of the wound. His normally expressive eye was dull and glazed over. The sharingan had been removed, leaving a hollow. Even in death, the mask still held on his mysterious face.

He went faster, now frantic to find them. His two precious people.

Naruto was next. It made him give a shout out to the empty air.

His rival's body had been burnt to a blackened state, and pinned to the Hokage monument with shuriken in both wrist arteries and ankles slit together. It was a demented form of the crucifix, the child of happiness and dreams slaughtered. He couldn't bring himself to get close enough to discover the cause of death. His best friend's blood brought another scream from his throat. Chakra-pumped legs tore through the village of the Leaves. But still he didn't find her. The name rolled off his tongue in agony.

"Sakura!" If something had happened to her...

"Sakura!"...he could never forgive himself.

There she was. Her graceful form hanging from the top branch of the pink-petaled trees she was named from. Intestines showed through a wound in her lower stomach that pierced straight through her body. Crimson pooled at the base of the tree. At her name, she opened her eyes wearily.

"Sasuke... why?"

It had been him. He had killed all these people. He had hurt the withering blossom now pinned against a tree.

"To test my capacity,"




"I'm sorry.


Her yell brought him from the nightmare, shivering from cold sweat and panting from screaming. The wonder of why the girl he had reluctantly fallen in love with—a jealous, possessive love—was in his bedroom, sitting in fact, on his bed. Reflexes against his own mental weakness shot up and the Uchiha started raving.

"Why the hell are you here? Can't you find anyone else to bother? Why don't you—" He was halted by her patient, soft smile.

"Itachi is dead, Sasuke. Can you let it go?"

He almost wanted to hit her. But the memory of the softness of her lips held the contrasting male back.

"Don't talk about it as if you know, Sakura."

She blinked, gathering her words. Rain pattered on the windows, darkness chocked the atmosphere.

"After you left Naruto for dead, I taught myself not to love you." The medic avoided looking at his deep, capturing eyes.

"I hid behind my training. And then when you came back, I avoided you. But now... I may never forgive you for what you did to the idiot, but I'll never stop loving you either.

This time the girl led him into a kiss. Her skilled fingers worked themselves through his hair, rubbing down the scalp and tingling the nape of his neck. Forgetting resistance, the possessive beast within the black-haired boy roared out and wrapped around her thin waist. Somehow, they both ended up lying on the bed again, pink locks fluttering on his bare chest. He only ever slept in blue shorts.

After a time, the female ninja again pulled away, but this time she was smiling.

"Whatever it takes, I'm here for you."

And that was all Sasuke needed. Because in that moment, looking in silence at her bright eyes he realized something. There was one great difference that separated the Uchiha brothers.

Itachi had never loved and been loved in return.

Sasuke had just learned to do both.


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