Title: Empty Steps
Pairing: one-sided Sasuke x Sakura
Summary: Most of the time, his eyes are closed, and there's a slight smile playing on his lips. She relishes it. It'll probably be the last time she'll ever be this close to him.
Warnings: Symbolism, double-meaning. Teenage!overanalysis.

Author's Notes: First shot at symbolic!SasuSaku. I hope it's not too heavy-handed. Once again, this is based on a true story, so I think I got everything out the way I felt it should have been. I'd appreciate it, if, in your lovely reviews, you'd tell me which parts were especially effective. And conversely, the bits that didn't work so well.

Disclaimer: It hurts to put this on every piece I write. Naruto, all his adorable little friends, and his extra smexy sensei, are not mine.

In another time, in another place, Uchiha Sasuke asks Haruno Sakura to lunch.

He confesses that he has an ulterior motive—that big Calculus test is coming up pretty soon, and Sakura is better than numbers than he ever will be, and would she mind going over a few concepts with him?

She is overjoyed, of course. What girl wouldn't be, when faced with the prospect of an afternoon with her one, true love? She eagerly accepts his invitation, and the moment she drops the phone back onto its cradle, she rushes off to get ready.

This time, she'll move him.

This time, he'll say yes.


They meet at the train station in the city. It is unusually mild for a November, and so, Sasuke is dressed in plain jeans, his trademark, dark blue shirt, and comfortable walking shoes. Altogether, it's a very boring, unimaginative combination.

Sakura thinks he's beautiful.

He quirks a brow at the red summer dress she's chosen to wear, but gives her none of the compliments she—hoped for—expected. She brushes off the mild disappointment and reassures herself.

She's got six hours with him. Surely, the realization will come later.


Their first stop is the library.

It is nice, and it is quiet.

Perfect for everything Sakura has in mind.

"Anything in particular you want to go over?" Sakura asks, pitching her voice just a shade too low to be innocent. It's a breathy sort of whisper, and Sasuke only looks at her, confused. He rummages in his pocket, and offers a lozenge.

"Do you have a cold, Sakura? Take this."

Sighing slightly, she refuses the cherry-flavored cough drop, and turns to page 163.

"All right…the first thing you have to remember about implicit differentiation is…"


Sasuke walks uncommonly fast.

His steps are brisk, rhythmic, a pattern of footfalls that never seem to stop.

Sakura finds she can't keep up.

She tries of course, at least in the beginning. She takes three steps for his every one, compensates for his lack of consideration with her own adjustments. For a while, it works. She's where she wants to be, next to him, their hands just barely touching.

It's enough to give her butterflies.

As soon as it's there, the moment disappears and he's across the street again. When he finally notices that she's still on the other side, he turns around.

"Am I going too fast?"

Sakura—in that way that most girls do at that age—overanalyzes his question, and answers the subtext laced within it. She smiles softly, a touch of sadness fluttering on the cupid's bow of her lips.

"No. I just can't keep up."


Lunch is a quiet affair.

After a few awkward attempts at conversation, Sakura decides to try again.

"So, Sasuke-kun…do you like long hair?"

He pauses mid-bite, contemplates the question, and shakes his head.

"Not particularly. It gets in the way."

Sakura looks dolefully at her layered pink locks, and tries not to sigh too loudly.


The ride home takes forever.

It doesn't last nearly as long as Sakura wants.

The train is crowded today. They are standing close to the doors, and she is pressed up against him.

His hands are on the silver-cool pole, and his headphones are over his ears. Most of the time, his eyes are closed, and there's a slight smile playing on his lips.

She relishes it. It'll probably be the last time she'll ever be this close to him.

He shifts his position. It's almost time for him to get off.

As he walks through the sliding door, he stops, turns around.

"Sakura…thank you."

She nods her reply, along with a sweet, sad smile.

After he's gone, Sakura places her hand where his used to be, closes it around the metal of the pole, and tries to soak up the last vestiges of his warmth.

She is disappointed, but not surprised when she finds none is left.

Sigh. My writing seems to flow smoother with these two if it's a sad story. Sorry about that. As for POS, it's definitely coming along. Ino and Shikamaru are so much fun to play with.

Thanks for reading this.

Please, take some time and review this. It'd mean a lot. :D