Author's Notes:

This is kinda like a Naruto 1 hour special episode.

Only it's a fanfic 1 hour read.

Yeah… I freakin over-extended it… crammed too many events… But well, I didn't wanna go back on my word…

FINAL CHAPTER – and that's what it is.

I wanted it long too, because I know how long you've all been waiting… (- . -)"

And I wanted to make things worth it.

Thanks to everyone who waited so long… for being so patient with me.


ENJOY! - grins-

Chapter 35

Two weeks.

The boy turned around and pushed his arms into the wooden arcs of the bridge's wood as he looked down at the rushing water below him. Dark eyes followed the weaving patterns of elemental grace catching over small pebbles strewn in the shallow mud. Beneath the surface, small field-maidens wriggled, their sleek silver bodies struggling against the current as they fought to overcome it in groups of three or four.

The new weight Sasuke was slowly growing accustomed to, pushed down over his chest and the boy fought it with a deep breath before he bowed his head and closed his eyes.

As much as his impatience drove him, Sasuke couldn't bring himself to leave before Sakura's parents came back from their vacation.

In the past few days, his affection had automatically become secondary, buried under layers of worry, and fear – as he so strongly recognized but impulsively decided to ignore.

After all, Sasuke was still human.

Yes, he was afraid to step out of the village he knew was home.

Afraid he would lose a part of himself with every transcendence to a different border and country…

Sasuke desired power.

As an Uchiha, that determination and drive was unquestionably branded into him.

But because of Sakura, the boy knew now, what acquiring that power was for.

And that led to something else he feared…

Something he knew from his experience with the cursed seal.

That power would corrupt him and change him.

And make him forget.


As much as he knew he had to leave in the end, he found a repelling force that seemed to be even more overwhelming, pulling him back, whining, urging for him to stay.

It was so much easier that way.

"Stay with me… I don't want to be alone."

With his eyes closed, Sasuke heard that voice - her voice - as solidly as the textured wood pressed into his elbows. It brought him back to the darkness of the hospital, the cold linen sheets, the smell of formaldehyde and alcohol, and Sakura, as she looked up at him with her moist emerald eyes.

"… You're not alone." He heard his own voice echo.

But she would be.

"… Alone."

Though it was never his habit to vocalize thoughts, Sasuke whispered the word, regretfully.

And the wind blew, thinning the sound, sweeping it away with the fallen leaves.

Sasuke's eyes opened as he heard the dull pop of teleportation behind him.

And the boy slowly pushed away from the side of the bridge as the swirls of smoke receded. Hands finding their respectful places in his crisp, white shorts pockets.

"Yeeo." Kakashi casually slurred as he looked up.

In one gloved hand, he held a beautifully-woven basket of white Chrysanthemums and in the other, his ever-present Icha book.

The man stuffed the book into his holster, before touching down a few feet from the boy.

His mind was ready with the explanation for his tardiness, as always.

But this was Sasuke.

And Sasuke didn't ask unless it was necessary.

"… Why did you call me?" The boy's usual tenor voice eased out.

"Mm…" the jounin hummed almost pleasantly, before his visible eye opened and he gave the boy a sincere gaze.

"Today… we're going to visit Yume."

"… Yume." Sasuke stated more than asked, and the tone would have forced anyone to explain further.

But Kakashi, typically undaunted by this, much as anything else, only gave a mild nod.

His voice dropped heavily.

"Let's go… Sasuke."

The boy's eyebrows bunched together in a look of mild irritation.

But he said nothing and obediently followed.

Together the two ventured into the woods.

Sakura arranged the flowers over the vase for the sixteenth time.

And then she sighed and leaned over the counter, watching her blonde friend move around the shop with the water canister.

"Ino…" The pink-haired kunoichi called.

"Hmm?" her friend responded, almost nonchalantly, as she leant over to scrutinize the Spider-mums.

"It's okay that I help out here right? … I mean, until I get a job in the restaurant next door?" Sakura anxiously said, observing the girl's purple sleeveless dress and interwoven bandages as she walked.

With her parents gone, and no assigned missions from the Hokage, Sakura needed the money.

And the Yamanaka flower shop was the only place that was both lacking staff and conveniently situated close to her home. It was an ideal place for temporary work.

So for the first time in a long time, Sakura had asked the supercilious girl for this favor.

And surprisingly, Ino had welcomed her without bitter resentment, a cunning debate or a bashing of sorts.

The girl, well-read on flowers, finally pushed up from her crouch and composed herself before she swung around with a hand pressed to her slim, bandaged waist.

"Sure, forehead girl." The blonde's mouth extracted a deliberate, arrogant grin that was more for the sake of old times than to taunt.

Sakura gave a weak smile and looked down… hands twisting idly with the pink wrapping strewn across the counter top.

"Hey… Sakura…" The blonde's voice lowered carefully, taking in a soft, almost fragile venture into the air. It was the kind of voice the pink-haired girl had been hearing ever so often after her return from the encounter.

Almost everyone used that kind of tone with her now, treating her like a little girl who had suddenly lost an arm or leg - Treating her with sympathy and pity.

Even Naruto.

Her green eyes met with subdued baby blues. Far from the taunting, playful eyes she had gotten used to, in recent years dealing with her ex-best friend.

"I heard from Asuma-sensei… About-…" Ino suddenly lowered her face with a scrunch, as if an invisible force were clutching at her neck, forcing her to recoil.

Sakura kept silent, though she forced thick breath and readied herself to answer.

She already knew exactly what to say.

In the past few days, people had come up to her, most of whom she knew and were relatively familiar with.

The two Hyuugas - Neji and Hinata, and then, Shikamaru – soon enough Kiba, Chouji and Shino as well as a couple of the team teachers, parents and hospital staff.

Each of them, relaying their comfort in different ways - whether it was surprising warmth, distant thoughtfulness, an outraged string of curses or formality.

Sakura had heard each version that came, each delivered speech wrapped in a different kind of package, but all contents bearing the same messages.

"We're sorry about what happened. And we wish we could have done something to stop it."

"If you need a friend to talk to, you're my first priority."

"Be strong."

And her answers had always remained unchanged.

"It's nothing."

"I'm fine."

"Don't worry about me."

And so here it was again, coming from Ino in her uniquely offered package.

But she would have nothing else to say, save for the words she'd automatically given everyone who had mentioned it.

"About … Sasuke and you… I mean…" the girl idly stroked her wheat-blonde pony-tail, "…being together."

"-Eh?" Sakura impulsively blurted, knocked off-balance at the unexpected statement.

"You finally win." Ino continued with a sigh, and she twirled away and sauntered further to the front of the shop, mustering whatever was left of her pride with a swish of hips.

"Congratulations on bagging the rookie…"

The pink-haired girl didn't miss the way her friend tried to cover the slight bitterness in her voice, replacing it with light uncaring airiness instead, choosing to refer to Sasuke that way, as if she were disassociating herself from the exhausted honorific.

Sakura could only imagine what it felt like to be in her place.

The knowledge of having less of a right or access to him, the fact that he had chosen someone else despite the flare and dedication.

"Ino…" She slowly murmured.

"-though I don't know what an elite member of the Uchiha clan could have seen in a forehead-with-a-face like you…" The blonde couldn't help adding with renewed snobbery.

The empathy left instantly.

Sakura's mouth twitched at the insult, and she slung a fist into the counter as she readied herself to swing back with another cutting offense.

But before the barrage of retorts could rain down, Ino turned back to face the upset kunoichi with a teasing smile and just a bit of a tongue stuck out in between.

"… Nonetheless,…" she offered her hand up and held it out in a V, "I should be happy for you."

Sakura watched the blonde girl's powder-blue eyes soften as she gave a renewed smile of fervor.

And for a moment, she saw a flash of what they had been as children.

"You've finally grown up." The usually, outspoken girl now firmly murmured.

And behind the jealousy dominating Ino's aura, Sakura could see just a bit of happiness and pride.

Before the pink-haired kunoichi could work her throat muscles out, the moment had already passed and Ino had whipped her head to the entrance with large blue eyes.

"Irashai! Welcome to Yamanaka's Flower shop." She declared with a fluctuation of high and low melody.

The spiky, brown-haired man at the entrance gave a broad grin, and the toothpick from his mouth twisted up as he stepped inside.

He wore the typical navy blue shinobi top and matching pants.

"Hey, girly." He slung a hand across the doorframe and gave a casual slouch as he looked at Ino.

"What's the best kind of bouquet to give on a first date?"

It seemed like something invisibly poked at the man, and his hazel eyes flickered up to the counter, meeting with Sakura's observant stare.

"Oi… Hey there, Sakura-chan."

Ino's finely-plucked right eyebrow rose as she turned to the kunoichi behind the counter.

Sakura… CHAN?

How could this man know her?

Was Sakura THAT popular already?

Ino almost choked on a disbelieving, slightly insulted snort.

Sakura's face faltered, before she straightened, unable to hide the confusion.

"Sorry…?" her voice ventured before the girl blanched and pushed a hand to her cheek.

"I… I'm sorry, I don't remember ever-…"

"Yes, you've never met me…" the man cut in with another charismatic grin, the small red strip taped across the cut on his cheek pushed up.

"…at least never when you're conscious." He finished teasingly.

Ino's hands came together as she blinked up at the man.

"Hot." She murmured, just barely above a whisper.

And could this be that man Asuma-sensei was talking about…?

The one who… helped rescue Team 7?-

"I'm Hayai Keska…" The older man started to say, before a cluster of Lilies attracted his attention and he lowered, bracing his hands to his knees.

"Wowme, how much for a dozen of these?" The captain pointed.

"Free… if you give them to me." Ino breathlessly murmured, before pride punched her dangling jaw up and her mouth snapped shut.

"I mean… They're 45 a piece." The girl grandly answered with a honed curl of seduction and a slow cat-like blink. She pushed her hip out and sashayed, so the purple skirt rustled.

The captain raised his eyebrow, and then eased into another casual smile.

"I'll take 12. In… white wrapping."

"Ah, but…" The blonde stuck a finger up importantly, her voice slipping into the systematic ways of a gifted florist.

"For a first date, Red wrapping should be a better choice. It'll subconsciously reveal the intensity of your feelings… also," the blonde girl gave him a bright – almost all-knowing smile – " the Lilies won't be accentuated as much if it matches the wrapping. But White Lilies are a great choice. They reveal purity and sincerity."

Keska pulled at a brown spike and aimed his hand at her, shaping it like a pistol.

"You're the expert…" He dutifully labeled with a feisty smirk.

Ino's mouth grew slack with a smile and she gathered the flowers before walking off to bundle them.

"Hayai Keska…" Sakura suddenly said after her friend had disappeared behind the blue curtains leading to the storage room.

Her gaze rose with clarity.

"You're the one. You're the ANBU captain Tsunade-sama was talking about." She murmured.

"I'm not the only one. But yes, I am an ANBU captain." Keska answered back, lightly. And then his eyes softened and he plucked the toothpick from his lip, before his face took on gravity.

"I'm glad you're doing okay, Sakura-chan…" The man started. And as if the tone had gotten much too somber, his eyes suddenly crinkled, very briefly reminding the kunoichi of Kakashi.

"… We thought we'd lost you both." He mildly continued with an apologetic furrow of eyebrows.

"… Uchiha Sasuke and you."

The girl's green eyes looked at the captain, and she smiled what Keska thought was a beautiful, grateful smile.

"Thank you… for everything, Keska-sempai."

Sakura thought she saw the man twitch.

He craned his neck into the distance, rubbed idly at his stubble and then turned to her with a small smile.

"Just Keska… should be fine."

The pink-haired kunoichi raised flustered eyebrows and she gave an uneasy smile.


The trip was fairly short.

Both genin and jounin were on their way to the village local's cemetery when Kakashi wordlessly, and much too abruptly turned towards the right, over to a different path, making his way towards a large cogon field enclosed in finely-crafted fences.

Sasuke knew immediately where Kakashi was going, and he froze.

"What… are you doing?" He stiffly inquired.

"Sasuke, this is where she is buried." The gray-haired jounin answered much too softly without turning to face him.

"Impossible-" The boy immediately shot back, his obsidian eyes growing stony.

"… You know those grounds are reserved for Uchiha only."

A little way in front, the jounin finally stopped walking.

A second passed before he carefully turned around to face Sasuke, his open eye revealing heavy grief in muteness.

"Why do you think I asked only you to come?" Kakashi quietly pointed out.


Sasuke swallowed.

His teacher watched the new emotions flood his student's gray-tinged eyes.

"No." The boy said. But his low tone didn't sound at all convincing, even to himself.


His voice continued to chant though his legs proceeded to step along the paved path lined with dandelions.

His head became light, and his body ironically grew heavy.

They came across the small Iron Gate and the pepper-haired man easily slid the bar from its place and pushed the metal bars open with a rusty creak.

Sasuke raised his head and his vast line of vision was instantly greeted by rows and rows of marble tombs. Each one marked carefully, each one bearing the Clan's name in brazen gold letters, most of the engraved names familiar ones that held many painful memories.

His chest snapped and the wounds that never had a chance to properly heal began to bleed again.

The past rushed forward and confronted him with each marble head, until all the graves blurred into a haunting representation of what he had run away from in that one night.

It all pushed at Sasuke, strangled him, until he snatched his head sideways and focused on a patch of dry grass near the entrance, throat constricting with a sudden tide of grief.

A hand slowly rested on top of his black head, and Sasuke glared up with pained eyes at Kakashi.

"Please… it was something she wanted you to know. I'll explain everything." His teacher said.

The boy allowed the bit of guidance as they walked over rock-laced weeds and choked flowers, until seconds later, the navy blue pants in front of him stilled a feet from a freshly dug patch of ground.

Sasuke raised his head.

And the name greeted him just as his mentor's voice confirmed it.

"…Yume was an Uchiha."

Kakashi's voice barely got through as Sasuke continued to stiffly stare at the carved marble head.

His teacher continued speaking.

"Konoha hadn't kept track of Yume, because shortly after the Great War, they moved away to another village, and then another country to start a new life…"

The jounin rested a gloved hand over the surface of stone and slipped the basket of flowers on the gleaming stage.

"That was only three months after you were born…"

Kakashi's voice trailed off, and his keen eye observed the boy before he ventured on.

"Yume… didn't know about the clan massacre. Not until she had moved back here to Konoha. You see, she arrived in the village only a few weeks ago…. Sasuke…"

At the sound of his name, the rookie spared his teacher a strained glance.

"Yume… learned about you, the only survivor of that night, around the same time she learned of the tragedy." The jounin's voice lowered before he fixed his student with an earnest look.

"She thought it best that everything be revealed to you after the mission, so that you could focus on the task-at-hand without distraction. But what she had been planning…"

The boy barely detected the sudden waver in the voice of his teacher.

It was there. And even Kakashi couldn't hide it.

The jounin's eye caught Sasuke's stare significantly, and the sorrow dimmed across the planes of his face.

"Sasuke… Yume had wanted for you to stay with her, because she didn't want you to be alone… She recognized you as family."

At the last word, Sasuke's eyes widened, arms rising midway to his chest before freezing, undecided in motion and stunned with shock.


In all those years, he hadn't been alone after all.

More questions came, squelching into his stomach, ensnared within knots.

The startling revelation drove into him, shook the anchor free and pushed at his balance.

For a moment Sasuke lurched, close to caving with a thump to the dried grass under his feet in shock.

But he was stronger than that. His body and mind had undergone such abuse that his tolerance had grown insurmountably.

"So…" The jounin turned to the boy, and sullenly closed his eye "Now you know, Sasuke… contrary to even your own belief as well as everyone else's. Aside from Itachi… you weren't the last."

The silence stretched on as the boy carefully took in the words.

All he could remember of her face had been the soft smile and the gray eyes.

He wouldn't have the chance to know anything more.

One hand reached out instinctively to strangle the bars behind him as he thought back on what he had heard about her murder.

"The Akatsuki-" Sasuke started to say.

"-No…" came the abrupt answer.

Sasuke's eyes flickered up, watching the man beside him draw in a steady breath.

"… Itachi." The pepper-haired jounin's eyebrows clashed as he said the name.

"He must have heard about her existence on one of his random travels. And it's likely he might have been planning to kill her ever since…"

Kakashi's head lowered, index finger tapping unthinkingly over the marble.

"We thought we'd saved Yume, because I managed to revive her…But Itachi had used poisonous wires to tie her down… and the girl's wounds were many, and deep…" The jounin's eye narrowed morosely.

"In the end, the man succeeded."

Sasuke was no longer surprised.

It helped that Sasuke didn't know her personally.

And the anger surfaced for only a moment, before he efficiently tapered it down with the days of experience doing just that.

It was the arrival of this that told Sasuke to confront the future.

And now, there was no shred of hesitation in his heart.

Even the fear had somewhat subsided.

Two weeks.

A flash of Sakura's smiling face entered his mind.

And then it was gone - replaced by glowing yellow eyes with black slashes for pupils.

The one who had been lingering as of late, who beckoned to Sasuke from the darkness and served as his undeniable solution.

Power. Came the enticing, gravelly whisper in his mind.

It danced within the walls of his mind.

Feeding him the recurring vision:

A long, pointed tongue slipping out from between that stretched, broad and snakey smile.

The purple-pinkish muscle flicking once against teeth before disappearing back within the seam.

It hissed.

Yes, this is what you seek, Sasuke-kun.

It grated.

Through me.

Fangs bore down and carefully sank deep into the muscle of his left shoulder.

Only through me.

The slither of a raspy voice, like sharp nails, light and airy as breath, brushing up his neck.

It made him shiver.

But it lured him, charmed him more than it could ever repulse him.

Kakashi watched the strange look overshadow Sasuke.

But it was gone almost as quickly as it had come.

"It was because of her that we were able to reach you in the forest that quickly." Kakashi admitted.

"Till the end, she wanted to protect you as a relative rightly should."

Sasuke wasn't sure what to think or how to act.

But soon, one of his hands came forward to rest on the cold stone, fingers pressing firm over engraved letters.

And he found himself saying a silent prayer as the sun shone down over the fences, and Kakashi looked on.

For the relative he never really knew…

Yes. Now you know… how much you need me.

The dark voice in him whispered.

Sasuke lowered his head.

He needed it.

He would find it.

He would leave in two weeks.

The day wore on, and Sakura kept herself busy. She spent time talking to Ino, bringing a bit of their forgotten bond back with each small conversation. Later on, her penchant for learning urged her to start flipping through floral design books, the history of flower breeding in Konoha. She browsed through two botany sketchpads, researched and drawn by Ino's father, before moving on to proper flower arrangements, accentuations using even the grubbiest of weeds and the combination of fragrant flowers to set desired moods.

Sunflowers for adoration, White Lilies for purity and modesty, Roses for varying kinds of love, Lavander for devotion, Jasmine for sensuality and attachment…

"Is he a good kisser?"

Sakura's finger trailed off from the last line of the book and her pink head froze before she looked up.

Ino had just closed the door to the shop and was now busying herself with a springtime bouquet.

Her face was hidden behind the large curve of wheat blonde strands cupping her face and all the kunoichi could see was the way her friend's lips had narrowed into a fine line as she momentarily stopped.

"… W-… what?" Sakura dryly asked.

"…Is he?" Ino finally looked up with a look of trepidation and sudden embarrassment.

"I just have to know… Sakura." She murmured with a faltering smile. "At least give me that."

The pink-haired girl's eyes softened even as she felt her face grow warm.

She opened her mouth and then pushed her face down, unable to look at her blonde friend.

"I-… He… yes."

The sudden loud moan forced Sakura's head up again. And she found Ino clutching dramatically to the cabinet beside her as she threw a hand to her forehead.

"Ah…. So jealous." The blonde's voice rose with a bit of a weeping tremble.

She hovered a moment longer with a sigh before lowering her head and fixing Sakura with a weary look.

"Do me a favor, forehead-girl. Treat him the way I would have."

"And have him leave me by the end of the week? No thanks, piggy." The pink-haired girl answered wryly with a smile.

Ino's apron flew at the counter-top barely missing the kunoichi's face. And Sakura started to laugh.

"…How about you not having a job by the end of the week." The blonde dryly shot back, sticking her nose into the air as she removed her rubber gloves. "The nerve."


Sakura carried a flower with her on the way home that night.

A frilly Pink Carnation with its stem wrapped carefully in a small plastic tube with water.

"A woman's love," as she learned it symbolized. She rather liked the idea.

Her street was dark, with nothing but yellow lanterns strewn across wires to pave the way below shadowy Kalachuchi trees. Sakura listened to the sound of her sandals scraping against the pebbled road, before she turned right towards the porch light glow of her brick house.

She was just about to reach into one of the cracks to extract the house key when she heard the sound of a voice, and felt the heat radiating off a body just to her right.

"… Have you eaten?"

The suppressed tone almost blended in with the silent lull of the wind, just as every part of his quiet nature did.

The girl turned sideways, meeting with his refined features hidden under that parting of sharp black hair.

The light from the porch shone off the bridge of his nose as he mutely looked at her - hands in his pockets, casually leaning one arm against the side of the door.

Sakura didn't bother to rationalize how he'd gotten to standing beside her seemingly from nowhere.

Stealth was a talent the boy naturally possessed, whether he purposely used it or not.

Her heart gave a squeeze of greeting and the warm wave of it coursed through her, softening her gestures to tenderness.

Soft petals pressed to her fingers as if to remind her, and the girl shifted thoughtfully before holding the flower out to him with a private smile.

"It's for you." She murmured.

Sasuke's coal eyes lowered only briefly before they returned to her face.

He ignored the flower, stepping forward and crushing the petals against his chest as he did.

"Sasuke-kun?" Sakura's pink eyebrows drew together in question as she backed into the door with a mute thump.

One of Sasuke's pale hands planted carefully just to the right of her face and Sakura saw the proximity close between them, the shadows compressing within personal space. She looked up at him and he gave her a heavy-lidded stare in return.

"I don't need another flower…" Sasuke's voice trailed off.

And then his dark eyes rested over her, silently completing the statement.

Sakura's knees almost curled when he slowly came forward. But she kept herself standing if it meant it was the only way she might meet his lips.

"I went to visit family today."

Sasuke's fingers touched to her cheek, and he watched her eyes widen.

"Family?" she asked with just a tinge of confusion.

"… In the cemetery, I asked for their blessing."

"… Why?" Sakura barely got out, before the boy's lips had lowered over hers and muffled the question.

Everything grew warm, and then just as quickly grew hot.

Considering that her mouth had already been partially open, Sasuke dipped his tongue in with no difficulty, caressing lightly before he retracted and started to suck on the pout of her bottom lip.

She made a sound barely audible, at the back of her throat as her tongue found his and she sucked back with as much fervor.

His hand dragged over the door reaching under the curve of her neck, angling her higher.

She tangled one hand into the back of his head and fought closer.

It was, one of the better kisses he'd given her. And one of the best she'd given back.

Sakura was just beginning to lose herself to the moment when Sasuke pressed down once and then after a slow breath leaning into her, he pulled away.

At just around the same time, Sakura felt something being taken from the fingers that had gone slack between them.

The boy held the flower up and studied it as he ran the tip of his tongue over his lower lip.

"It's pink." He briefly labeled it, before lowering the Carnation and giving her a look.

"I'll keep it."

Sakura smiled and gave a clump of his sharp locks a teasing tug. "No, Sasuke-kun, I haven't eaten. And you're early."

He frowned and shook his hair away from her grasp before he watched her slip the key into the lock and push the door open.

"Early… because I wanted to see if you were any good at cooking." Sasuke said a moment later before closing his eyes.

The girl gave a breath of a giggle, the sound as high as a tinkle of chimes.

And then they went inside.

They ate dinner together that night. And Sasuke enjoyed it as much because it was with her, as because she turned out to be a fairly good cook.

Onigiri and dango in teriyaki sauce. Sautéed Vegetables with buttered shrimps.

Rice husk tea and lemon sherbet.

The desert, they decidedly shared from one bowl.

Him, because he found it pointless to disagree with Sakura.

And her, because she claimed it to be "romantic."

And though Sasuke had his own teaspoon, he ended up eating most of her share simply because she loved feeding him.

"Open." Sakura teasingly commanded for the umpteenth time as she swung the utensil left and right below his nose.

He glared at her, eyebrows bunching together before he pulled his face further away.

"I can't have any more." He lightly said, pressing back into the wooden chair.

Sakura lowered with a pout and then shrugged, decidedly licking the contents off before setting the spoon down on the table.

He found it to be an attractive sight, but kept the thought strictly to himself.

And after a moment, the boy finally turned away.


He looked a moment longer at a Calligraphic painting over one wall near the kitchen cabinet before he directed his gaze at her - a wordless gesture for the girl to continue.

Sakura's green eyes spiked with the illumination of the yellowed lights before the emerald flecks lowered to trace at the cracks of the table.

"You're going to stay tonight, right? …"

Because he had done that, last night – and she slept more peacefully with him.

At the hesitant, yet slightly hopeful inquiry of the kunoichi, Sasuke looked away and moved one arm, reaching below the table into his large holster.

After a moment, he raised something black and something white in front of her.

Sakura eyed the folds and recognized the pair as black draw-string pants and a white shirt.

"I… need a towel." The boy uncomfortably said with a shift.

Sasuke wasn't at all used to relying on other people for anything. And even more, certainly never a personal bathroom asset.

But he hadn't planned on staying until midway through dinner…

Right after the kunoichi had reached over the table and drawn an idle circle over the top of his hand.

Sasuke remembered her doing the same thing last night.

When lying in bed with her had become more comfortable than awkward and she had pulled his arms over her like a make-shift blanket.

He held her and said nothing, even when he noticed her fingers tracing the shape. Sasuke remained receptive to the pad of her finger against his skin until it slowed and then stopped altogether, because she had fallen asleep.

He realized, just right after, that she might have been carving a little of herself into him.

A circle, just as the one that symbolized her clan name.

Tonight, the extra clothes had been a fluke.

He always carried a pair.

And the toothbrush…?

Something told him to bring his toothbrush.

"Auww, Sasuke-kun, you came prepared… - How sweet." The girl's eyes turned into beaming arcs of dark eyelashes, shadowing her cheeks.

Sasuke's left eyebrow responded with a tug and Sakura opened her eyes to watch the boy's mouth part with evenly conducted grace.

The girl was still caught up in absorbed observation when his next words came in its usual fluid tone.

"… Shut up."

But even typical rudeness coming from him sounded like such an eloquent invitation.

Or perhaps it was the fact, his finger was now pressing against her mouth, lightly tracing the curve of her bottom lip, slipping over the fine line that opened to teeth and tongue, swiping over the peak of her upper lip…

Sakura's mouth was just about to form a full "O" when Sasuke smirked and his finger gave the tip of her nose a playful flick.

The motion rendered her to pull back, blinking and stupidly speechless.

Sasuke's mouth widened into a grin.

And soon, all Sakura could do was listen.

To that teasing melody which was uniquely his.

The bubbling trickle she had missed and wanted so much to hear again.

His laugh.

"You have sherbet at the side of your lip… Idiot." He finished.

Sakura blinked a few more times, before absently swiping the sticky moistness away with a hand.

And then, in realizing her lack of grace in comparison to him, she blushed and looked down.

He was so different…

Sakura's eyes wandered up, watching him tuck the clothes back into his beige holster.

And slowly, she smiled, taking pride in her triumph. Knowing just how far and deep Sasuke's true nature went.

Only she knew him this way.

Only her.

And with that thought, a smile played across her lips and she rose to clear the table.

For the whole duration of that week, he paid her more dutiful visits - though Sasuke felt it was more an impulsive need than a responsibility. The only way he could feel that everything was in its rightful place was the moment her face greeted him, every night.

The only time he felt like the world wasn't swinging off its hinges was when Sakura provided the hand that stilled it.

And though it was wrong, though he knew the dependency wouldn't make things easier for him, Sasuke allowed himself to be submersed in the carefree world she provided.

Like a drug, the rookie silently thought one night.

It was the seventh day, and they were sitting in the living room with ten sack dolls and random fabric creatures littering the floor.

"I made you." The voice of the girl suddenly piped from beside him.

Sasuke tore his squinted gaze away from its position over his work.

The kunoichi's short hair, which was tied back in a pony-tail, bounced while she bent over and he watched the stray tendrils of baby pink slip along her cheek before focusing on what she was digging up from the pile.

"Horaaa…" Sakura declared with crinkling eyes as she eagerly held a doll out to him.

One with black yarn for hair and a ghastly-white face larger than half its body.

He could barely see hands and feet.

Only four nubs sticking out on all sides. In fact, one ballooning limb was so out of proportion, it popped out from the doll's chest.

He stared at it, wordlessly. Refusing to crack even a twitch of a smile.

She'd colored in flat eyes and a mouth using black ink with a horse-mane Chinese brush.

"Tch." Sasuke snorted between his teeth, giving the pitiful creature one last glance before decidedly returning to his own work.

"So… show me yours." Sakura pointedly said with a wide, unsuppressed grin and an accented nod at the lump nestled between his palms.

"No." He shot back, before his thick eyelashes lowered.

"Doing this is stupid enough already."

The girl barely caught the mumble between the flat parting of mouth.

"… Come on, Sasuke-kun…" The pink-haired kunoichi crooned, unfazed by his distaste for the activity, or the grim treatment.

Still he ignored her, pushing the needle out from his work, as she'd taught him to do, raising the thin tip and severing the thread from between his teeth - just as he would with gauze wrapping.

And in that moment, between tying a knot and sealing the patchwork, the random conclusion struck him:

Yes, it was like a drug.

- Being with Sakura, and doing ridiculous things he would never think of telling anyone an Uchiha boy did.

A drug he was starting to rely on.

A release he craved every night.

What would Naruto think?

His face invisibly contorted itself into a sour expression - though on the outside he remained skillfully apathetic.

And that was when Sakura surprisingly decided to tackle him down to the ground, crushing the thoughts, along with his left arm into the wooden floor under his ribs.

"Sakura!" The startled rookie choked out just as she threw one lean leg over his torso.

"I want to see!" The girl almost triumphantly declared her purpose for the abrupt assault, before reaching between the gaps of his waist and the floor to grope for the doll he had been working on.

Apparently, even members of an elite clan possessing impressive talents for ninjutsu and taijutsu forgot they were ever endowed with such skill.

Sasuke lay pinned on his side, frozen between her legs, all moves of parry escaping him until he felt her tug at the cotton-stuffed figure wedged between his hip and the wooden boards.

He grunted, snatched the doll back and finally remembered a defensive move.

He flipped over on his stomach and crushed his work under him.

Yes, a wonderful defensive move.

Sakura suddenly ruptured into a laughing fit on top of him. And with that, the boy felt his face redden.

He pulled down one eye and scowled as Sakura shifted, refusing more with stubborn will than anything else that ever concerned revealing the doll.

The weight pressed even more over his body, most perceptibly on his lower back - where she was conveniently seated.

Soon, however, it had abusively ruled over most of his spine as she continued to lean further into him.

Sasuke almost jerked lower into the floor when what he noted was her chest pushed into the hollow between his shoulder blades.

The mood and atmosphere shifted almost immediately.

Turning from playful to something deeper…

He decidedly remained quiet, listening to the subsiding giggle that dwindled off into a sigh. The silence that came was replaced with small expelled breaths…

The tick of the clock on the shelf to the left…

And finally, her voice as it pressed to his ear with a hum.

"…Sasuke-kun." He felt the vibration from her, against his shoulder.

And then she said nothing else.

The boy realized that Sakura just wanted to speak it for lack of any other tender word, would only coat his name repetitively with as much gentle affection as she could before opting to release it into the air…

Wishing with more heart than anything that he would catch it - The way she sincerely felt.

She didn't need to tell Sasuke anything else.

His breath puffed into the floor under him, hot precipitated air that would have moistened the wood with time. And then he felt her face wander closer.

His heartbeat ascended.

Fingers traipsed over his jaw to cup under his chin.

Sideways, he turned, gaze meeting quietly with her green eyes - different hues of moss resulting from the shadows between them. He looked back from behind uneven dark locks.

His hips were digging into the floor, though he was aware of nothing else but her body riding along his spine.

Sakura's lip touched his cheek. And at the simple contact, his stomach coiled tighter than it ever did.

Perhaps it was in the odd way his body was positioned, one hand pinned underneath, the other wedged between her left knee and his ribs.

Maybe it was something else.

She bent further down…

He slowly angled higher…

Their mouths brushed together as a pair of odd slants.

It felt new and awkward, like a first kiss, all over again.

But Sasuke clung to the moment.

Even if she had him held to the ground, metaphorically helpless.

Even if it was against his nature, that a woman should force him to sew kewpies, dominate him and call forth events of surprise to assault him.

He held on to it.

Sakura's hand was moving past his shoulder and down his side, but Sasuke didn't care.

It was slipping between the floor and his waist, but all forms of protest had already escaped.

Her hand came over the doll and Sasuke found himself releasing it for her…

But those fingers dragged past it, brushed along garment, found a fault and dipped into skin.

"Sakura…" came his breathless response.

She pressed dearly into his soft locks.

"… I forget sometimes…" her soft voice flowed into the space between them, partially apologetic.

"I forget how you feel… and I want to be reminded."

In the limited space, she brushed the warm skin of his stomach. And the boy's spine bent like a beam, briefly reminding Sakura of the sinewy motion only cats could be gifted with.

He could have thrown her off. After all, he was lifting her weight effortlessly as he moved.

But he didn't.

Instead, his voice came out, strangled from the press of the floor against his cheek, perhaps dulled even more by the restraint.

"Don't… allow yourself to forget."

It cracked.

She waited for him to say something else. Shove her off and repay her by pinning her down just as she did him. Fulfill his natural urge to complement each of her moves with a significant one of his own.

To tell her he wanted to be reminded just as much.

To touch her.

But the only other sound that left him was a breath.

The only other move was one that stilled his body back into the floor.

And then, the raven-haired boy was once again silent and motionless.


Don't forget me.

"Sasuke-kun…? What are you thinking?" She softly asked.

Under her, Sasuke closed his eyes and forced the thoughts away with an even breath.

"… Nothing." He finally answered after a moment's pause.

She didn't ask anything else, didn't insist or prod.

He felt her shift - hands kneading into his shoulder blades, knuckles curling into the trench of his back in distended swirls of pattern.

Soundlessly, Sakura lowered and pressed a final kiss into the opening of his black shirt collar, over the tattered mark.

And then the warmth was leaving him.

The comforting weight of her, sliding off.

Underneath, the doll he had been making, with pink yarn for hair, lay disregarded.

The nights passed much too quickly for his liking.

Sometimes Sasuke was present for dinner, and other times, he only showed up when Sakura was already lying in bed at night, painfully awake.

Three days into the second week, he arrived at his latest.

Two o' clock in the morning.

He jumped in from the balcony – his private main entrance – before soundlessly hitting the floor and automatically eyeing the bed.

Her moist eyes hidden behind a clenched hand and strewn hair looked out at him wordlessly.

"Good. You're awake." He said.

Her eyebrows snapped together and she pushed up from the bed. "Sasuke-kun, of course I'm awake… Because you didn't-… I thought…" Her voice opted not to finish, and instead one hand came up to comb at her hair, brushing the strands away from her pale skin.

And that was when he noticed.

The tear-tracks and the pinched complexion, the distress and the upset look she was haughtily trying to give him.

His own distress squeezed back.

She couldn't keep depending on him.

Sakura shouldn't always be waiting for him.

It made him angry.

He allowed himself the opportunity to drop his bag before he fixed her with a hard glower.

"Don't cry just because I'm not here." ,came the firm snap.

The girl was silent as her eyes lowered, and he watched her push one palm close to her lip.

"I'm sorry." Sakura apologized a moment later from between the press of her thumb and forefinger.

Her green eyes lifted, and he saw just a bit of hurt flash across her quaint features.

"…Did you forget?"

He stepped further into the room, before stopping just a meter away from where she was lying.

"I did. I forgot." He simply said.

His straightforwardness stung and Sakura forced the miserable lump down from her throat with a swallow.

She was about to silently nod when something heavy bounced into the sheets between her legs.

"… I forgot... to take them out…" The boy deliberately explained. "So the first batch burned and I had to make a second one."

Her face jerked up at the package before she directed her wide gaze at him.

"Cookies." Sakura murmured, almost hopefully.

"Almond." He finished.

It was the sugar-high.

They didn't fall asleep until 4:30 that morning, when the sky was an undecided shade between purple pumice and murky river-blue. Sakura tiredly glanced over at the boy beside her who had his face partially hidden under a curtain of black hair. One hand stubbornly rested atop the plastic bag of unfinished cookies as if he prided himself on how delicious they'd turned out.

His eyes were closed with those dark eyelashes Sakura sometimes envied, pressed to his cheeks.

His breath fell even against her side.

Carefully trying not to wake him, Sakura slowly turned around until she felt his shoulders cave over her like an invisible embrace. The girl touched her nose to his chest, burying just so the underside of his chin clasped the top of her head. He stirred for less than a moment with a deeper breath before sinking back into what she wished was a peaceful dream. And then Sakura grew still feeling the pulse against his skin, breathing in his smell – fresh grass mingling with her lemon soap - timing the rise and fall of her chest with his.

Not soon after, her own eyes lowered to the soft, hesitant chirps of birds nesting at the pipes lining her roof.

And the kunoichi finally drifted off, enjoying the lull of peace only he had ever been able to provide.

It was the first and last time Sasuke would fall asleep before Sakura did.

He never did tell her how much he wanted her.

How much he thought in chosen moments of comfortable silence between them, that he felt something in him wishing to reach out to her.

It was almost as if there was a certain exchange that was left neglected… Something inside him that Sasuke couldn't accurately force down and confront.

Perhaps, something he consciously wished not to crave, but something he subconsciously desired.

It was ironically just when the dreaded last night slipped over the fire country that he finally realized what it was.

That night, the stars hid behind heavy, rolling clouds against the black dome of sky.

Sasuke had been looking into his apartment, with the ever-present trepidation settling over him.

The backpack waited grimly on top of his bed from the shadows.

He seldom took out that backpack.

It was big even for the longer missions that spanned to a week and a half.

But now, his backpack nodded with weight, slumped with desolation from the amount of things he'd forced inside it.

One side-pocket folded in like a mouth, half-opened as if beige lips thought to complain but found nothing significant to say.

In a few hours, just before the break of dawn, he would pamper that bag with a privilege of carrying it over his back on a very long journey.


Sasuke didn't really know where.

All he had to guide him was the grating whisper that spoke when he was alone in the dark.

When his problems were looming overhead and blocking out his personal sun.

With every night he had spent with her…

It got more and more difficult.

Just the thought of severing the ties…


The cut bled more, became increasingly painful, grew deeper each time he tested it.

But even being buried in pain wasn't such a harsh experience, if pleasure cushioned it ever so carefully.

And that's what she is. Sasuke thought.

My pleasure.

But even more than that, he realized, she was already half of him.

- Completed him, as the cliché went.

He stuffed the extra clothes into his holster, gave the room one last glance and then closed the door.

Sasuke was halfway to Sakura's house when the skies decidedly cast a look upon him and began to weep for his future.

It rained.

The boy didn't bother looking up. His eyes were directed onto the street watching the large droplets bleed into the yellowed road. He listened to the pitter of the rain until the sounds began to tap rapidly, finally merging, with time, into a steady thrum.

A sheet of white fell over his eyes as the rainfall became a shower.

Slowly, his feet stopped walking, and he finally turned his face up to the skies.

It was a long time that Sasuke stood there – partially hoping that the next day wouldn't come…

Wishing darkness wouldn't lift…

That his world would notice he had stopped moving,

And begin to stop too…


Sakura had just taken in the laundry from outside, barely escaping the rain.

She ran indoors as a biting breeze chased over her neck and she shivered, quickly nudging the glass door to the backyard shut with one free elbow.

It was hours after dinner, and close to the time Sasuke always made his appearance.


Her eyes momentarily hovered over the clock near the kitchen, before looking down at the lump of towels in her arms.

Sasuke-kun might have gotten caught in the rain.

The thought invited more keenness than sympathy. And she smiled to herself, knowing she would greet him prepared. The girl extracted a blue-and-white stripped candidate from the laundry collection before setting it gloriously down over the hallway table.

The rest of the towels and clothes, she piled over the step hovering near her head.

With thoughts of orange juice in mind, she turned to pad off into the kitchen for a glass of it…

- Until a shadow swept across the wall above her head.

Sakura's green eyes immediately flew to the door and the small vertical glass pane framing its side.

A glimpse of blue, she recognized quite joyously to be his and her hand was already on the knob, twisting it.

Before Sasuke even had a chance to raise his head, the door slipped open and a hand had curled around his damp wrist, tugging him inside.

It was instantaneous.

The moment he stepped inside, his eyes met hers and the weight of everything to come pressed over him. Dampness slipped down the thinned strands of hair connecting to pale cheeks, trickled sideways down the curve of his nose and fell off his chin. His clothes weighed with water and pulled down over his lean form. Sasuke started to soak the floorboards.

He didn't care.

Something else dominated him, and it brushed everything else, including ethics aside.

"I am prepared." The girl giggled in declaration.

His sorrow.

Sasuke felt the invisible burden coil around his neck. And yet he remained quiet, watching Sakura as she plucked a single towel up, shook it open and pressed it to his head.

His eyes took her in as she laughed and ruffled the soft cloth into his hair.

Would he ever have the chance to see this again?

"Sasuke-kun,…" She lightly crooned, squeezing her eyes into beams of teasing flirtation.

"You look so cute when you're wet."

Would he ever hear that tone again?

His mouth straightened out into a thin line.

And Sakura jokingly stuck her lip out to match his silent contemplation.

The young Uchiha finally snapped.

Without warning, his face slipped away from the towel between her hands and the boy's palms pressed into her shoulders as he pushed her to the wall just beside their heads.

"Sasuk-" Her breathless inquiry was erratically cut off when he silenced her with his insistent mouth.

And it was different, Sakura knew.

This kind of kiss, which didn't hold even a bit of gentleness. He moved over her mouth, ruled it with hitching breath and desperation, forced her to open for him, before he reached in with his tongue and deeply stroked her until she needed air.

Finally he allowed her a breath, when his mouth tore away and he clutched at her arms, roughly pulling her body to him and soaking the front of her clothes.

Her voice squeezed out from the surprising momentum and the cold wetness, and she gasped against his ear as he firmly held her.

"What's wrong??" Her panic was apparent.

"… Nothing-" He desperately breathed out.

Wishing to convince even himself.

Nothing was wrong.

So why did it feel like something was?

Like something was missing…?

His arms couldn't hold on tight enough.

The way he kissed her couldn't convey it.

Every touch and glance…

The whispered words, every night, on the verge of sleep…

It wasn't enough.

Why wasn't it enough?

Something between a cry and a groan pressed to his throat and he cradled her - unable to do anything else. There was no other word for it – He felt lost.

In every way the syllable expressed.

And he hated it.

"Sasuke-kun…" her soothing voice eased over him, and it provided solace, even for a while.

"…Sakura." Came the answer, and it sounded every bit broken, scared and helpless.

Wedged between the crook of his shoulder and soft, damp locks, Sakura was sensitive enough to catch it.

And just because she'd spent each waking moment knowing him, she somehow read through the thick whisper.

Her nose touched to his jaw and she inhaled the smell of mildew before she slipped her hands to the fabric clinging wet to his hips and clasped his waist.

"Funny…" She softly started, before pulling away and fixing him with a look.

"Funny, how I always know what you want."

She saw through the conflict and Sasuke realized they were on the same page.

Connected far beyond any other two could be.


It was a significant thing to be that.

Her fingers gave his damp shirtsleeve a mild tug and he watched the small smile come over her.

"Wash up, Sasuke-kun… before you catch a cold."

And without a shred of hesitation, he followed.

When he slipped into the sheets that night, it felt different.

Even if he'd gotten used to every spring on her bed, every bumpy corner and frayed edge…

It was different.

Dim white light came in from the window, a breeze swept the smell of rain into the room.

Sasuke vaguely identified it, but his mind took in the embodied moment and remembered.

From the pillow underneath his head, which smelled of Lavender, to the way Sakura's white nightdress draped over her slim curves.

In the darkness, without any verbal exchange, her hands cupped his face and he automatically inched forward.

When their mouths met, it was slow breath intertwining within a deep act of give-and-take.

Lips brushed together, teeth bit carefully, tongues swiped and tangled.

And the air grew hot with movement, a deliberate slow dance conducted best in two.

Her hands pressed into sheets, lifted away from shadows, clutched at thin fabric molding over skin.

A sound came from him, soft enough that even a rustle of limbs could drown it out and his fingers reached underneath her head, clasping at soft pink tendrils before he lifted her to his mouth.

They were in sync somehow.

No matter how different the movements were.

Her tongue touched the seam of his lip, and he parted for her.

Sakura brought a hand to his chest and he responded, splaying his fingers over her jaw.

He slipped over her, she moved under him…

Their hips aligned, brushing ever so slightly.

And then everything seemed inevitable.

"Sakura…" he said her name.

"You told me… do you remember?" Her green eyes pierced into him.

"On a bed, when we have all the time to do it…" Her mouth curled into a smile as she looked up at him.

"I should be scared…" Sakura whispered. Her finger traced over his cheek, the move driving a delicious wedge into Sasuke's stomach.

"But I'm not."

His chest was pressed over her, and he felt the thumps of her heartbeat.

Even and slow, just the way everything had been progressing in those few nights.

… Just as it had always been between them.

And he decided that he did want it – All the time in the world.

But all Sasuke would ever have were the ticking hours before sunrise.

His last moments with her.

The boy's mouth lowered, tracing over cheek and chin before finally settling over the warmth that escaped her lips. And he closed his eyes, thinking that this moment was the only chance for him to give her everything he could.

Everything of him he could leave behind, and everything of her he could take with him.

It would seal them both.

Sakura had been right.

This was what he wanted all along.

The assurance that they would be connected, branded as each others.

Until he returned…

Wait for me…

That one thought left him, replaced with the new awareness of the kunoichi's palms as it dipped under his shirt and nudged the material higher.

Sasuke couldn't resist or pull away.

He bent into her arms and gave himself to her.

The girl enjoyed the sinews moving underneath her fingers, the hollows between ribs, the lean coils of his stomach as she grasped his sides.

"I don't want to hurt you." His voice broke into the silence.

But she only shook her head, slipping the shirt over him and past his arms, dropping the material over the rumpled sheets…

"… You're not like him." Sakura slowly whispered, and with the light of the moon, she saw his eyes searching hers, significantly.

Hands cupped over the skin of his arms, folded under to trace the fine brace of collar bone, touched at his chest and pressed with warmth into the place that beat for her…

"…You could never be like him." The girl finished with certainty.

And he remembered the words for all they were worth, until he decidedly reached for her.

The nightgown didn't have a zipper. It wasn't the same as all the other times he had undressed her.

He learned to reach under their bodies instead, clutching the ends of the skirt that went midway past her knee, sliding the material up, watching it glide like silk over her legs, tumble higher as it rolled over her thighs.

She lifted her hips and the sensual motion brought the pump of hot blood, traveling through him, blooming along his cheeks, flooding into his stomach…

His hands slipped lower to caress the planes of skin, knowing even without looking, the familiar crevices that dipped into her.

He heard the whimper even before his fingers had curled over her underwear. And when the full significance of the coming act hit him, Sasuke gratefully lowered into her neck, touching his tongue to her skin, tasting her almost gently.

Because it struck him now, how Sakura would allow him to mark her so selfishly…

Despite the similarity of what ruined her body only weeks ago…

That painful defilement made by blood of his blood, in a malicious intent to take away something Sakura saved only for him.

Can I…

Should I…

Sasuke's hands lingered, a moment too long, and she moved her head sideways, catching his lip in silence, allowing him the act.

She knew the source of his hesitation.

With the fading release of that kiss, he lowered his gaze and pulled with his hand, peeled the garment from between her legs and gauged her expression. Sakura slid her feet free and guided his hand higher with a nudge of thigh.

He'd wanted it.

Craved it.

And the feeling had been mounting though he refused to acknowledge its presence.

His hands slid between her legs. Sasuke touched her.

And he watched her teeth dig hard into her lower lip with anticipation.

The simple motion contorting her face with the weeks of waiting and wanting… and finally getting.

He loved that look.

The expression mirrored so much of what he felt.

Pleasure and pain, a mixture of both, never getting high enough to hold on completely, but always longing to be swept to that height.

His hands knew her, roving over each bulk and fold, slipping only slightly higher, until she let out a sound which she tried to stop from tumbling past her lips.

Her mouth closed with a sob.

"Don't hold back…" He whispered.

Her hands folded into his hair and the girl drew him closer.

I want to hear it.

Don't hold back

So she didn't.

The bunched hills of blanket got pushed further along the sides of the bed, surrounding their bodies like a venerating wall. And she opened for him unabashedly - Offering every sound, every jerk of her body with an honesty that only spoke of how much they already knew each other.

Her fingers clutched tightly to the sheets, and he shifted enough to balance firmly on one arm, slipping the limb under her head while the other continued to work in repeated motion between them.

She was soft. Everything about her seemed to be.

And filled with wet heat, though he never really took the time to notice.

His fingers never stilled. It had started to summon, and a greatness was building inside her, he knew, pressing just under her stomach, working like invisible pressures over her hips, coiling and twisting, expanding deliciously from the center.

He wouldn't stop. Not when she was showing him so much just being the way she was.

After a moment, she let out a gentle cry, wrenching her head sideways and burying into the crook of his neck.

"Sasuke-kun." She bleated against his skin, eyes shut to the tides taking her.

His hand held her head, pushing her up to meet his mouth in a breathless kiss, and he prolonged it, consuming her soft sounds, the weeping of mounting pleasure…

And just because he wished so much he had more time, Sasuke slowed the strokes of his hand, made the motion deliberate, even and deep. Hooked into the opening of her mouth with his tongue and timed it so the movements below and above merged, and Sakura was left writhing in desperation.

"Mmmm…." She wrung out against him in sweet agony. Her teeth came together in a grimace before she gasped and pulled his neck down…

Pushed her hip up and ground against his hand.

Unknowingly, against his stiffness.

Her tongue had entered his mouth when he gave the moan, feeling the purposeful undulation bury where he needed it.

And in the blind moment, complementing a move with a move, he slowly pushed twin fingers inside her, hearing the mattress creak as Sakura's spine dug back.

"Oh…God…" The girl's breath sharpened with a rise.

And Sasuke had to wonder if there was one.


And if there were, that it spare her the memory, of that katana's hilt.

And how the motion was so much the same.

"Is this…" He started.

"…More." She completed.

He curled his fingers, and she gave a nod.

He stroked, and her eyes half opened, heavy with traces of a fond, and heated smile.

"You know me…" Sakura suddenly said.

"I learned you." He answered.

The moans heightened as he pushed into her, rubbed on the outside and moved from within. Until Sakura's hips were lifting in time and he became absorbed in her frantic dance to reach that height.

The pleasure thrummed into her body, flowed through her veins. And the heat curled and buried, subsided, and rose to a dizzying climax that finally gripped her until Sasuke felt her stiffen in his arms.

Her mouth came open.

"Sa- suke-kun…"

At the very tip and just as she took the dive, it was his name Sakura whimpered.

And it was the only right thing to say.

When she shattered past the peak, the kunoichi finally cried out, closing her eyes as she rose to meet his lips. Her tongue insistently dueled with his in frantic shallow breaths until he felt her pulsing into his hand, gripping him reflexively in waves and waves of climax.

And then Sakura's mouth had gentled with a slight quiver and her body softened, lowering back against the bed as she stilled.

Green eyes, filmed in acceptance and desire, gazed up at him.

And he would remember.

That look.

"I need you."

This time, it was she who said it as she pushed up to shed the rest of her white nightgown.

There was no slow tease.

It was truthfully direct, matched with the sudden rash thumps of both their heartbeats.

She let the dress slip from her fingers and over the side of the bed.

And Sasuke watched her, taking in the beauty found in the curves of her nakedness.

He yearned, hands reaching out to her skin, tracing light over the side of her neck, painting heat over hollows where the shadows bred.

He memorized striking portions of her paleness, dwelling carefully over faded scars that formed over the years, trying to remember every uneven mark that made her unique, from the solitary mole guarding the trench between her breasts, down to a constellation of them heaving over her right rib and stomach.

The boy reached back up, touching the firm mounds of her chest and running the gaps of his fingers through those textured rosy peaks. And then he lowered, swiping with his tongue, needing to taste her skin, to be reminded of what he would be missing.

Her response, after a shallow hitch of breath, was undoing the string of his pants and slipping the cotton fabric from his hips. Fingers molded with pressure over bone, sliding lower over pelvis and dipping under garment towards his back to cup the flexing muscles of his rear.

It was an intimate place that missed her pampering touch.

Over the surface of her heated skin, Sasuke released a muffled grunt feeling more compelled now than ever to aid her.

He pulled away, shed his clothing pair by pair with a look in his eyes that graduated from shame or embarrassment, eyes that shook with the sheer force of wanting her to see his entirety.

And the atmosphere grew heavier with desire and anticipation, for Sakura. Desperation and longing for Sasuke, because the minutes went by and time would never stop for him.

He would give, and give more. And bury so deep that she would never lose him.

I'm yours.

He'd always thought it to be a petty statement. But now, its full significance stood before him.

He couldn't phrase it any better.

And Sakura…?

His onyx eyes looked out intensely at her from the shadows, and she gave him an open, tender smile.

Sakura is mine.

His boxers dropped somewhere over the foot of the bed, perhaps lost under the covers diving to the floor, but Sasuke didn't think to care.

His hands spread out over the sheets before he inched closer to her.

And Sakura watched the muscles under pale skin, gliding with the shadows over his arms and shoulders, lean legs wrapped in ribbons of light that broke off just where his firm belly met his hips.

She waited until Sasuke silently joined her again, his naked warmth slipping above her, his lips brushing over the bridge of her nose and over her lowered eyelashes in a new kind of affection.

She traced her hands over his sides and he lowered himself carefully, pressing inch by inch of his skin over hers as if trying to match her dips and curves with his own.

A puzzle, he wished would fit in all the right places to leave no gaps.

And Sasuke felt just how different it was now, from every other time it had happened.

Her feet slid tenderly over his calves, as she shifted.

His member burned with delicious contact against her lower stomach…

Sasuke's breath faltered as the peaks of her breasts brushed against him.

And gravity took it upon herself to push skin and skin with weight, together, making everything all the more intimate and real…

It was in how much of their bodies were joined and tangled…

And how much Sasuke wished it would always remain that way…

The thought brought out the sorrow in his obsidian eyes, and the boy dulled, wrapping his arms under her and pressing his cheek to hers.

"… Mine." Sasuke firmly whispered into small space between them.

But his voice broke towards the end, and he found himself crushing her body to him.

Sakura seemed to sense his loneliness, and the girl shifted under his arms.

"What is it?" She softly asked as one hand reached up to cup the side of his face.


Will I ever know?

But his eyes only rose from the sheets in a renewed gaze of solidity.

"… Do you trust me, Sakura?" The boy rigidly asked.

Do you trust me, regardless of how heartless I might seem to you?

The girl seemed to hesitate, contemplating the hardened look on his face

"…I trust you." She finally answered, before her fine eyebrows stitched together in worry.


That voice. The way she said the honorific and how it had so long ago annoyed the hell out of him.

Now, he found, he wouldn't quite be the same without hearing it.

He had a feeling… it would be a long time before he could hear it again.


Sasuke's eyes softened, already with a tinge of melancholy.

Looks like I will miss you… usuratonkachi…

Sakura wasn't telepathic. And she would never know the boy's thoughts accurately.

Nobody ever would.

But she knew just how much he needed her.

And even if he wasn't always the sweetest, or the most civil…

Even if he wordlessly knocked her into a wall to get the kiss he wanted…

Or shoved her the festival prize instead of giving it…

Even if he called her an idiot, a blockhead…

And scolded her for her stupidity while she was on the brink of death…

Even if Sasuke had refused many times to answer back to an "I love you"…

And even if he had failed her…

Failed in the most crucial test to defend her as his older brother mercilessly raped and took…

Sakura loved him.

And she was certain that it wouldn't change.

When Sasuke positioned himself on top of her, she didn't feel fear.

She didn't doubt him.

He started to form careful seals, most of the symbols she hadn't recognized at all, and she watched him carefully with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.

"How did you learn it? Those one-hand seals…."

"Kakashi." The boy answered.

Her eyebrows rose and she blinked at him. "… What for?"

"To be safe…" He looked at her as he locked the last seal.

"It's… protection." Sasuke finally disclosed.

She couldn't help cracking a small, wry smile.

Perhaps, because it was a first for them both…

Every second seemed to sharpen and layers and layers of intimacy wrapped around them, drawing them closer together until both of them could hear the exchange of breaths, feel the other's rising heartbeat, read the expressions of nervousness and anticipation, look beyond it to see the certainty…

There was no question from him- 'Are you ready?'

He didn't give her the warning - 'This will hurt.'

Maybe it was because Sasuke already knew she had been through much worse.

His obsidian eyes only bore into her as she carefully clutched at his upper back.

And then he commanded her with a word.

Only one.

"… Breathe."

"-… Of course." She answered solemnly, trying not to laugh.

And then the humor faded into silence.

The boy lowered, peered between them, adjusted, and Sakura could feel his intimate member, hard and ready from the earlier tease, push significantly at her.

Its velvet heat brushed along the sensitive folds of her opening, and the girl almost made a sound at only that. But Sasuke's length continued to burrow, bathing itself in her moist, waiting warmth, until the boy's eyes finally rose back to her face, because he had found her soft entrance.

He lifted only so slightly that Sakura almost didn't notice it.

And then Sasuke pushed, breaking into her for the first time.

He heard her draw her breath the same time he expelled his.

And was it anything like he'd ever felt?

No… His mind vaguely said. There's nothing like it.

The soft, pressured grasp, the surprising heat, the tightness…

His eyebrows came together.

Because Sakura seemed to be struggling, hips undecidedly angling to occupy him.

Could she take him further?

"…Sa…kura…" His voice came out scratched, as if he were straining.

"It's… okay-" Her eyes lifted as she firmly assured him.

She knew his hesitation, and she wouldn't let him worry.

He continued.

Her insides gave way to him as he lowered more.

And then Sasuke decidedly pressed forward with a locking hook, whole and firm, filling her until the twin peaks of their hips clasped.

Her arms reached up, winding over his back.

His elbows anchored to balance evenly along her sides.

And when Sakura pulled him down and their mouths connected in a slow kiss that complemented the feeling of being grasped firm, and being filled tight… Everything was complete.

Sasuke felt complete.


And this is what it was...

Their mouths pressed and explored, somehow more careful in venture now than ever.

A moment passed before Sasuke pulled away and his eyes watched the girl below him - one iris cradled in gray from the slanted light coming through the window, and the other bathed in black from the darkness of the room.

This is… what's been missing.

She inclined her head and touched her nose to his.

He blinked and slowly lowered his eyes.

"You think too much…"

Sasuke heard her quietly say.

- And as if to finalize the statement, his body flooded with the sudden need for more, silently telling him that it was only right to move.

Was the act supposed to have been hard?

It shouldn't be.

Sasuke was an Uchiha.

His body was a vessel endowed with the natural grace and coordination to achieve any physical act flawlessly…

Yet, the class rookie faltered now with even the simplest things.



Even those came clumsy and awkward.

With unease he shifted, drawing in halfway, pushing out with hesitation, entering from an incline, or scooping out from under, experimenting and then failing to create something smooth and natural.

It was like a dance he thought could have been learned in observation.

Only, as the time came that it was his turn to perform, he found he lacked the experience of rhythm to move gracefully over the floor.

Amidst his demise, Sakura caught him, held him, guided him, even if the sensations were just as new to her.

And soon he'd eased into the motions of burying and withdrawing, sweeping in and digging up…

Not slow enough that it grated, not fast enough that it felt rushed…

But in completion every time, and steady enough so every second counted - meaningful enough that both of them could learn to savor it.

Could he have done it any better? No doubt.

But would he have changed the way it happened?

Sasuke didn't think so.

Its flaws as well as highlights would wrap up the best kind of experience.

The bed warmed, everything around them grew heavy.

Inside her, it was hot.

Sasuke had buried himself deep enough to feel core temperature, and it burned him in a way that made his eyes close, that brought crimson under his cheeks and pried his love-bitten mouth open with a moan.

He bowed into her side and clutched her face to him.

"Sakura…" He couldn't help dragging out from between unnoticed fallen strands.

With an even thrust, he brushed a part in her that sheathed him, and it seemed to equally do something in her.

The girl made a sound. Her legs rose off the sheets involuntarily, and she clung to him wrapping her ankles around his back. It took him even deeper.

"Sasuke… kun..." came the gasped response.

To Sasuke, it wasn't just his name. It was a texture of sound, coated in fluctuations of need. It was endearment and love…


Something coiled in him and his hands clutched the sheets, startled, because Sasuke found that he could feel just as much of her as he could himself.

Somewhere inside, and between them, she'd squeezed back.

"… Again… do it." He heard her breathlessly say.

And he did. After which they both released a sound, a shallow breath, felt the lick of delicious heat together.

And in that moment, he knew it.

He could never get closer. It would never be more than this.

They moved and burned together.

He raised his face to her, and her partially-lowered eyes held his steadily.

Moving past the wrinkled sheets, his hand found hers and clung tight.

It won't be this way again… for a while.


Don't forget how this feels.

Don't forget me…

It could be weeks, months… possibly, years. Would she wait?


Don't let me go.

Her fingers squeezed over his…

Perhaps only from the building pleasure.

But it meant so much more to him, and he racked with sudden longing, with fear that she wouldn't be waiting when he returned.

Something wrenched the breath from him and Sasuke chased it with a low sound, shutting his eyes, wanting to forget even for a moment, wanting nothing but to lose himself in her.

With every drive into her body, he left more of himself there, buried.

With every whispered breath, came the silent chant.

Wait for me.



Because I can't be…

Without you…

I can't be complete.

Something else pushed up inside him, and because it already had once before, he recognized it well.

Perhaps if he told her this time…

If she knew it…

Those three significant words that had been taken from him…

She would wait.

They weren't dancing at an even pace anymore.

With every thought, Sasuke grew desperate.

Grew selfish, and branded her hard and deep.

But she wanted it, despite the pain.

Sakura rode the intensity and felt the prickles shoot up her spine.

Far from anything she'd ever experienced with him.

He filled her completely. Left her only for a moment, before he joined her again.

Even through the mindlessness, their hands remained linked, fingers clasped, refusing to part.

The seconds slowed, and Sasuke was almost thankful.

He felt the familiar wedge of his stomach, the brush of sudden ecstasy that almost took him.

The boy buried into her, grinding with low sound, and Sakura whimpered louder into his ear, arching back at the pleasurable brush. He withdrew, pressed again, and felt the coils wind tighter. His lungs filled with thin air. And everything began to build - the movement and the swell, taking him up, higher.

Taking her.

His eyes fell over the planes of her face, lids falling lower, narrowing with pleasure.

The Sharingan's crimson hue, flagged with heavy eyelashes, penetrated Sakura just as surely as his body claimed her. And her own eyes only made his conquer whole - twin dark seas that watched him, surrounded him and carried him.

"Together…" The boy panted out the desperate whisper.

Sasuke's other hand lowered between them, and he helped her.

Finding the sensitive spot just outside that needed more stimulation, calling the pleasure, faster and harder.

Her body surged into his touch, flowing with a promise that he could satisfy her.

The last night would be this way.

They would end it together.

His mouth bit at her lip, her tongue lapped at his.

Sasuke gripped her fingers so tightly, it hurt.

But beyond the ascent towards a torrential climax, the writhing kunoichi barely noticed anything else.

We burn together.

Sakura's hips jerked into him, and from between clenched teeth she dragged out a hum that turned into a pleasured moan.

He pressed down in response with his body, absorbing all the thrums she provided.

Giving himself, and giving in generosity - slowing the cant of his hips to a painful pace, to delay himself fulfillment. His eyes shut in difficulty, teeth gritting hard in an attempt to not senselessly drive into her…

And he waited.

He would… Always.

It didn't matter to Sasuke anymore – now or ten years later.

Impatience wasn't harsh enough to overtake this kind of will.

He would wait.

…Would she?

They stepped higher, where time was eventually lost along with any kind of solid ground.

Sasuke's strokes hastened on the outside, while his thrusts equally slowed within.

It was difficult, and agonizing in such a torturous way.

Her entrance swelled around him, grew hot with more of ministration…

And that great bittersweet-cacophony gathered through his middle, no matter how much he tried to sway from it. Until the boy finally thought that he wouldn't be able to hold off much longer.

"Tell me…" Came the tremors of his hitching voice. "Tell me when…"

And just as the last word died in breathlessness, the girl under him momentously tipped, gripping him from inside, tighter and tighter until crimson eyes opened heavily to watch her in desperate bliss.

His breath stopped, her world faded out, every broken thought, disappeared.

"Now." Sasuke caught the girl's soft distended whimper.

Her hand lowered desperately to his hip, pulled it up into her.

And with that, he followed blindly, forging in, pulling farther out, each move more purposeful than the last, until the girl's cry was thinned with erratic breaths, until her insides gripped him more firmly than it had and her sobs tumbled over his lips.

"Sa…ku… -ra…" The boy ripped the syllables apart, with a hoarse constricted breath.

He felt her grip his hand in reply.

It only took a thrust, two… three…

And then Sasuke's head swung down and he buckled, shuddering with a hard groan in pulsing release.

His hips slid forward, meeting solid with the girl's own desperate thrusts.

Move matched with move as they experienced the shattering pleasure together.

And in between the breaths she took, she should have heard the words.

Because when Sasuke had finally poured all of himself into her, he pressed his mouth to her ear as he said it.

"… I love… you."

And the words sounded like a humble admission…

A fragile discovery…

A desperate reminder…

- All at once.

Sakura did hear it, in all its torn breathlessness.

And as their bodies softened into the bed, the girl wholeheartedly said it back.

Sasuke's arms tightened around the kunoichi - as if he wished to encase all of her inside him.

His mouth buried into her damp forehead and he became stiller and more morosely silent than Sakura had ever seen or felt.

The air weighed down significantly, and a strange kind of emotion the kunoichi couldn't recognize came.

Folding itself around her heart over and over till the muscle throbbed from all the magnitude of feeling.

It squeezed at her throat and prickled like fine needles…

Dropped itself with the weight of a warm, furry animal circling over and over into her stomach till it settled at the bottom,…

It was different.

But it was also too vague to call it that.

It flooded and brimmed until her chest had no space to accommodate it.

… Until Sakura felt she would break.

And she didn't know why it suddenly happened…

But tremors choked at her throat,

The sides of her eyes grew hot, and then her vision began to blur.

Sasuke felt her stir.

Hands drew him down securely, a face buried into his shoulder.

And then, very quietly, the girl under his arms started to cry.

Sasuke's eyes closed, and he pressed his forehead into the pillow.

Breath stilling into the still-warm linen as he listened to her sob.

For the first time, he didn't tell her to stop.

Did she feel his pain?

Did her heart somehow know?

Something inside him thought Sakura did, even if the girl hadn't yet realized.


The word echoed in his mind.

And when Sasuke felt a new kind of wetness, warm and unfamiliar to him, squeeze past his closed eyes, and trickle down his own cheeks, he knew.

In every way, they were.

Dawn had very nearly come when he finally decided…

It was time to leave her.

In truth, it hadn't been long afterwards, that exhaustion came over Sakura and she fell asleep.

His own body was tired, but he remained awake, looking over the top of her head, listening to her take ample breaths.

After a minute, he wouldn't allow himself the luxury anymore…

After two, he carefully extracted his arm and pushed away…

As another hour passed, Sasuke started to sever the strings of attachment that would prevent him from being able to leave the room. Learning to mentally compress every memory, pack it into a box and keep it in storage, separated and far from the dictations of what had to be.

After making sure, one last time, that Sakura was indeed fast asleep, he looked away and never gave a second glance back.

And when he left the sheets, and relocated his clothes, Sasuke took a breath and began the new page in his life, mentally preparing himself for the things to come.

He would slip past the North gate, just after the jounin guards' shifts ended, and just before a second batch replaced the last.

Not many people knew it…

But at chosen hours of the day, there came a 120-second interval during which at least one gate of Konoha was left unguarded as the exchange in shifts took place.

In the past two weeks, he had kept himself busy and efficient - just as was his nature.

It was filed and organized in his mind… from how he would escape undetected and unquestioned,

How long before he would have to change route and clear his trail.

The chosen inns along the way, he could room in without attracting suspicion.

Most of the places he would be visiting were gambling villages, and criminal hide-outs.

And it would be dangerous, no doubt.

But his journey wouldn't be fruitless.

Sasuke wondered just how far he would have to go…

Until he found him…

He, who seemed to hold such overwhelming power…


His hand pressed numbly into his left shoulder.

And his heart chose that moment to rear up in rebellion.

But Sasuke had an astounding amount of discipline.

He shoved it violently back into the depths of his body and locked it there - with a firm swallow.

Large obsidian eyes shifted, casting a look out the window, and the young Uchiha stood there, in the middle of her room, feeling the floorboards solid underneath his feet, watching the midnight blue and plum purple hues cloaking the lower skies on the horizon.

Soon, Sasuke's face settled into its magnanimous expression of indifference.

His mouth pressed out in its usual flat line.

And the life in his eyes dimmed as a gloss of somberness replaced it.

His leg took one step out into the balcony.

A step further away from her.


Perhaps the title he had for himself would never really change.

And there would always be an underlying negativity coating it.

But he had to consider…

His face turned sideways, and it took every ounce of will not to look back one last time…

He had to consider…

Exactly who he was doing it for…

What he was really fighting against…

And if he had faith…

Sasuke raised the yellow paper he was holding in his hand and scanned the few lines he had written on it.

Simply it told her:

You said you trusted me,

So trust my decision.

And wait.

At the bottom he had signed it with his whole name, just to make it seem even more serious than it already was.

- Because those weren't casual statements.

With a slow breath, Sasuke reached out sideways, taping the paper evenly over the glass window where Sakura would surely catch it, shadowed against the eastern glare of the morning sun, much later.

And then he had stepped up the railing and soundlessly pushed off the balcony, disappearing from view.

- Disappearing into darkness and coming light.

When the Konoha sun finally rose a few hours later, it cast a glow, just as always, on everything it touched.

It sewed shadows to corners and edges. And the yellowish rays burned more intensely as the morning grew long, and the shadows began to inch, following the ascent of the sun across a clear white sky.

It set a certain kunoichi's hair a shade only a bit lighter than the pink on carnations as she wandered through the throngs of villagers on her street.

In one hand, she clutched a small square paper.

And squeezed tightly in the other, a navy-blue forehead protector that had been left behind.

Surely in the coming days she would shed many more tears.

Because as she reached his apartment that morning and found it strangely unlocked, as she stepped inside and found it empty and lacking his warmth, she already knew. Somehow.

Sasuke was gone.

She didn't have to ask why he left.

Sakura knew both the simple and complicated answers to that.

She didn't have to question how much she was worth to him either.

Because he had shown her just how much, in every way he knew how.

She would miss him.

But because of everything, she would wait.

She knew they both would.

The sun continued to shine down over his head.

And later, the moon would adorn him with pale glow.

But for a long time it would be elsewhere.

Because the boy had long left Konoha.

In fact, he was already far away.


Author's Notes:

Had to go out with a bang, --- so there was a lemon thrown in there. Nyahaha!! (couldn't help me-self)

This chapter is dedicated to my fellow fan-fic writer Aly because she's my first reviewer for Chapter 1… (and hopefully my first reviewer for this last one)!!!

YAY!!! (awwww)

We're done! (o . o)"

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this far...

I enjoyed writing. And I can't believe its finally finished… after so so very long.

I don't think I'm going to do an epilogue.

I wanna just leave it the way it is.

But I wanna thank everyone who ever read this, especially everyone who followed it to the bitter end. Lol.

Got any last words to say? SAY!