standard disclaimer applied.
She was a tiny seven year old girl when he first saw her. Wearing dirty white dress and high-cut muddy sneakers, she looked rather small for her age. So small, yet strong and full of life. She had just gotten out of a small childish fight (that involved kids mocking her incredibly wide forehead…) sporting few cuts, a bruised cheek, scratches running across her thin arms and torn sleeve.
Her face was dirty. Pink hair tousled with twigs and leaves. For a girl with delicate features, a pretty face, extraordinarily green eyes and peachy skin, it struck him unusual to see her muddy and scratched (her other cheek, the bruise-free one, had long scratches).
Nevertheless, he thought she was a dream. A nice mirage of his daydreams. His fascination increased when she smiled toothily.
"Hey, thanks so much!" she said happily, skipping towards him. She stood on her tiptoes to reach his chin. "Wow, you're cute!" she chirped sassily.
He recalled blushing. Lots of people said the same thing but they never made him blush. …now, that was strange.
A frown graced his face. "…you're dirty."
Her eyes blinked, "…hai." And she laughed.
Hearing her laughter, again, increased his fascination. He never heard such laughter. A laughter that made him happy. Something strong and raw blossomed inside of him.
"I like your laugh."
She stared at him, bewildered. "…thanks."
"I want to hear it everyday."
She was speechless.
"So," he paused, his frown deepening. "Marry me someday."
Her eyes widened.
But she smiled again. This time, it was a solemn smile.
"I'll wait for that someday, then."
And that day, she started to like him.
But several days later, Uchiha Massacre occurred. His heart died along with his family. His dreams died. That day, his sole purpose changed from something simple to something destructive.
"I will kill you."
"My dream is to kill a certain man."
And he wiped the memory of the girl he promised to marry someday.
"I am an Avenger."
One day after his family was buried, he saw her again. She rushed to him and said, "Are you okay, Sas—"
"Go away." He said coldly.
Pain crossed her face but she forced a smile. "I have something for you."
He gave her an annoyed look. Before he could snap another cold retort, he felt her pressed something onto his hand.
"Keep it." She said.
He looked down uninterestedly.
A long pause.
"I don't need this."
"But just… keep it. Please."
He was tempted to crush the white paper boat or shred it in front of her. But he predicted if he did, she'll go into a crying spree and that will be very annoying.
To make her stop pestering him, he tucked the paper boat into his pocket and left her.
He was twelve years old when he received her sixty eighth paper boat.
She was smiling at him brightly, hiding the pain. Just to make her stop bothering him, he took the paper boat from her palm and shoved it rather roughly inside his pocket. He knew she saw him just shove it like some piece of shit but she gave another smile and proceeded into bonking Naruto in the head for greeting a loud 'good morning'.
That same year, as a birthday present, she gave him five paper boats, very unlike of her for she usually give him at least one paper boat in a day or in a week.
"It's your birthday, that's why." she said.
It was December when he received her seventy sixth paper boat. He was walking home when he thought on why Sakura gives him paper boats. It was a useless. Insignificant. Just a strip of paper folded into a boat.
As an Uchiha, he knew what things to consider special. Definitely, a paper boat was not something to value.
But he mentally socked himself. Moron.
If they were something of no value, then why did he even bother to keep them all these years? From the first down to the seventy sixth. He felt stupid for keeping those but strangely, he just can't bring himself into throwing them.
As a matter of fact, he often found himself counting them.
He was thirteen when she stopped giving him paper boats. It was the year when he chose to run off to Sound Country, power-hungry, vengeful and stupid.
That year, he became a missing-nin— a traitor. He vaguely realized that someday, Naruto and even Sakura will be ordered to kill him in sight.
Kill him without remorse. Kill him without hesitation.
But he shrugged it off.
His sole purpose, after all, was to kill a certain man. An Avenger. A traitor. A Missing-nin.
Nothing else mattered. Except to see Itachi's head on a stick.
He left everything behind.
But brought along his hitae-ite and the 176 paper boats.
Two years passed.
They met. The three of them.
He looked down to them with a solemn face, rather unreadable.
The other two looked up with passion, with one wish to bring him back.
She stepped forward.
"Please come back to us! Sasuke-kun!"
He didn't reply, merely looked down. Tears started to flood from her eyes.
"Sasuke-kun… please, please—"
"Your tears won't bring me back." He said flatly.
She looked up tearfully.
"Nothing will stop me."
"No one will stand between me and vengeance."
He looked straight to her eyes unflinchingly.
Not even the paper boats he kept for two years.
Another two years.
He returned to Leaf, his mission accomplished and Orochimaru buried ten feet under. Leaf authorities were overwhelmed with his deeds. Seventeen years, barely adult and yet, he was able to eradicate the two top ranking criminals that constantly threaten Leaf's safety.
"What a surprise."
Tsunade narrowed her eyes.
Finally, he met her gaze.
"Why not?" he countered.
Tsunade smirked. Clever, clever boy.
"You're cleared." She said simply.
Ninjas and elders looked shocked at her announcement.
"Surely, you're not—"
She silenced their feeble protests with a look and, "are you questioning my authority?"
She shrugged carelessly. "After all, I am THE Hokage."
Naruto remained silent all through out the proceedings. Their gazes never met. The Uchiha's long fringe hid his eyes. His hands were bounded in front of him, his attire, surprisingly, neat. But what surprised them the most, his bag didn't contain any ninja apparels like a set of bloodied kunai (that was what they had expected) or shuriken set but paper boats.
He stopped to contemplate whether to turn around to see her or pretend to be deaf and continue on his way. But he wasn't given the chance to ponder on what to do because she now stood in front of him.
With difficulty, he set his eyes on her. "Sakura."
"Sasuke-kun… you're back."
"Finally." He took a split second to study her features. Prettier. Vivid green eyes with long lashes. Thick pink hair tied in a loose plait with uneven bangs framing her face. Such a pretty, pretty girl.
After that stolen moment, he looked past her, missing the hurt look that crossed her face. Silence reigned between them until Sasuke spoke to break it.
"What do you want?" he kept his tone neutral. Aloof and formal. Unfriendly but polite.
"I…" she bit her lip and summoned her inner self, begging her to give her strength. She felt him getting impatient. "Here."
He frowned at her offering. A cardboard box filled with assorted-colored paper boats. He raised a brow, indicating her to explain.
"Whenever I have the chance… I folded paper boats to kill time." She said quietly, looking down to avoid his gaze. When he didn't speak, she pushed the box to his arms. Since she pushed it hard, he was forced the cradle it in his arms. His face was blank as he studied the contents. And then, his gaze swung to look at her face.
She stuttered, "Um, if you don't like them… well, you can just throw them away or—"
She stopped stammering feebly, her expression was of surprise. Her eyes sparkled happily.
When he got home (into a smelly apartment, the Uchiha Estate was too big for him), he fought the urge to count them.
But he did anyway.
He was eighteen when she gave him her 698th paper boat.
Nothing changed between them. He was still a cold young man. She was still a cheery young woman. The opposites. They said that opposites attract. But there was always an exception to the rule.
That year, she was dating Naruto.
This time, people said: the two of them is the match made in heaven.
Same people. Same feelings. The future Rokudaime. The future best medic-nin.
He remembered growing angry.
"Why the hell did you even bother to give me stupid paper boats?" he snapped.
She was speechless. And here she thought they were friends. Friends don't shout at each other like that. But of course, there was always an exception.
"Forget it." He said afterwards. "I didn't mean to shout. I was angry at something else."
"It's okay… I'm annoying, remember?"
He nodded curtly and saw from the corner of his eye a flash of blonde and black. "Go ahead. He's waiting for you."
She looked to her left and saw Naruto. She smiled at him and signaled him to wait.
He didn't look at her.
"…will you… oh, never mind. Ja!" she quickly turned away and jogged back to Naruto.
She gave him the 887th when they became 19. It was November. So, she didn't stop giving him paper boats even though she was already engaged to Naruto.
He asked her why.
"Sasuke-kun…" she shrugged and bit her bottom lip, "Did you keep them?"
He didn't think twice when he answered her.
It was a downright lie. Sakura's a naïve woman. She didn't see through the lie.
She simply stared at him. He stared back.
She was the first one to break eye contact. "Of course." Her tone was brittle. "I see… you threw them away."
He didn't stop from staring at her face. His gaze lingered at her hair, down to her thick-lashed eyes and pink supple lips. If only she could see the truth underneath that lie. He wanted to say the truth. But he cannot.
He should not.
She loved Naruto now.
Not Uchiha Sasuke.
He was a history now. Part of the past.
"I'll see you tomorrow… I guess." She added the last part with a shrug.
He was her first crush.
She waved at him and turned away.
Naruto's her first love.
Three days before the wedding, she gave him the 985th.
"Just how long are you going to give me paper boats?"
She shrugged. "Until the message sink in." she replied vaguely.
"Or until you're married."
Green eyes met his dark ones. "You will be there, right?"
There was sudden vice-like grip that surrounded his lungs, hurting him. His throat refused to work. He swallowed to moisten his dry throat.
"Yes." He answered absent-mindedly and looked down to the blue paper boat. He didn't see her expression. When he looked up, her face was cheery again.
"I'll see you then!"
The day before her wedding, he received his 999th paper boat.
"Guess this would be the last," he said in a monotone.
She just smiled.
"Does he know?"
"That I give you paper boats?"
"No. I don't have to tell him, do I? It doesn't mean anything."
"Giving a friend 999 paper boats is platonic."
"I think you should stop calling me like that." He interrupted as he pocketed the origami.
Her eyes spoke another sentence but he didn't exactly understand the meaning of her look.
Ten minutes passed before she said, "oh. Sasuke is fine, then? Just Sasuke…"
He nodded and wore the mask of detachment. The mask was enough to drive her away but not this time. It spoke volumes of aloofness. A mask that said 'stop, don't get near'.
"Sasuke…" It sounded odd that she no longer calls him Sasuke-kun. "Are you seeing someone?"
He frowned. Of all questions to ask, why this one?
He shrugged. She smiled. "You should start dating someone you like. Find someone to marry and resurrect your clan."
"Marriage is sacred." His statement startled her. Wow. He really matured.
She nodded in agreement. "I agree, it is. When you marry, you should marry someone you love."
They looked at each other.
"Just like you did." He said quietly.
She didn't respond.
She withdrew her gaze to look past Sasuke. A bright smile appeared on her face.
"Hey!" she waved happily.
He remained watching her. Upon realizing he was staring, he averted his face to scowl at the distance.
He forced himself to look at her.
"See you tomorrow."
He didn't give any indication that he heard her. Shrugging off his indifference, she ran off to meet Naruto.
He didn't walk away neither turn to watch the couple. But he listened to her laughter.
And there, he recalled the first time he met her.
The laughter he wanted to hear everyday.
A grip surrounding his heart. Vice-like and a squeezing pain consumed him.
She laughed again at something Naruto had said.
Naruto can make her happy. Naruto can make her laugh that laugh. Naruto became everything she wanted. And he became nothing she wanted.
"You're such an idiot!"
"Heeeey! No fair!"
He stayed there, listening to their exchange, to her laughter, to Naruto's proclamation of love and whatnot until the engaged couple walked off to the different direction.
Long-lashed dark eyes flickered open. They traveled from the blank pristine ceiling down to the wall where a calendar was posted.
His dark eyes remained blank, fixed on the today's date. Under the date, one word was written in uncaring scrawl.
One word that was enough to break someone's heart.
Dark eyes dropped close. His body shifted into a side-lying position, his long black-reflecting-blue bangs falling over his pale forehead.
"Sakura." He mumbled absent-mindedly.
"I like your laugh."
"I want to hear it everyday."
"So, marry me someday."
He opened his eyes and stared at his bed-side table.
"I… I broke my promise." He muttered.
There was a gentle knocking on his door.
Dressed in simple navy blue shirt and drawstring pajama pants, he went down the stairs to answer the door. He drew it open and was confused at what he saw.
She looked beautiful in a white long-sleeved dress with full knee-length skirt. Pink hair hung over her shoulders and onto her back.
He looked down to her.
"What are you doing here?" he asked quietly. "You should not be here."
"I…" she frowned and shook her head after contemplating. She held out something to him. A frown creased his forehead.
"…finally. The very last."
He took the white paper boat from her palm.
She sighed deeply. "The end."
He looked at her even more intensely. "You made 1000 paper boats."
She nodded. "Yeah… I know I should have stopped a long time ago. But my hands…" she looked down to her small hands. "I can't stop folding. Not until I… reach 1000. Paper boats are stupid. Trivial." She stared up to him, her gaze so green that he almost thought they're glowing.
"Especially for a person like you, you would not even appreciate it."
"But now, I'm done with you."
He flinched, his jaws tight.
"I'm done with 1000 paper boats. I'm done with you. I'm free. I can live freely now."
He averted his face and stared at the tree behind her.
"I never asked for 1000 paper boats, Sakura." His tone was low and flat.
His gaze met hers. "And you never told me why."
She smiled weakly. "It's just…"
He wished for a good reason. Something. Please, say it's for a reason. Say it mean something. Don't say—
—it was just a hobby.
His hand twitched to crush the origami.
The last paper boat was crushed before her eyes.
Green eyes widened in shock. Flash of hurt crossed her face as she gazed down to his fist enclosing the last paper boat.
"It would not…" his voice slight cracked. "…hurt. After all, like you said," she searched his eyes but his long bangs hid them from view. "…it's just a hobby."
She bravely held back her tears.
The door was slammed shut in her face.
The door reopened.
He sighed sharply.
"Don't say sorry." She muttered softly, looking down, her bangs covering her left eye. "You don't have to." She raised her chin to look up to his face.
"It's just a hobby."
His jaws clenched together even more.
"Goodbye." She said simply and bowed, turning around, leaving.
He remained standing on the doorway, watching her disappear as she turned into a corner. His hand fished out the crumpled paper boat. For a long minute, he stared down at it.
Then, he smoothed it, trying to flatten the creases.
Tears fell steadily on her cheeks. Quickly, she wiped them with the sleeve of her dress. In her hurry, she bumped into something. Something that breathed.
Something with silver hair that defied laws of gravity.
She looked up, tears still flowing freely. "Kakashi…sensei—"
The front of his mask shifted, indicating that he was smiling.
"Brides should not cry on their wedding day."
"I know." She wiped the residues of tears off her cheeks.
"Where have you been?"
She hesitated. "Sasuke's."
Kakashi frowned. "Why?"
"I…gave him something."
His frown deepened. "What did you give him?"
"The 1000th paper boat."
"Sakura…" sighed Kakashi, scratching the back of his head.
"I kept telling myself it's stupid to keep on giving him such… stupid things hut my hands…" were trembling, "they kept working, folding… All my life, since I was seven, I kept giving him paper boats. I'm so pathetic!"
Kakashi kept silent. He was aware of Sakura's origami hobby. He even asked her once what's the reason behinf her hobby.
"It isn't JUST a hobby, sensei!" she chirped cheerfully, now trying to fold a pink paper into a boat.
He lifted a brow at her. "Then why?"
"It's my way of telling Sasuke-kun how much I love him!"
Suddenly, he felt very tired. "Sakura-chan…"
She knew that tone. "Sensei…"
"You haven't change."
"Marriage is sacred. You're supposed to marry the person you love." He saw her widened whether in horror or what, he didn't know.
"I love Naruto." She said between clenched teeth, her hands balling into small fists. "I do and that's why I will marry him—"
"Did you ever give him a single paper boat?"
It isn't JUST a hobby, sensei
It's my way of telling Sasuke-kun how much I love him
One hand flew on her mouth, stifling her sobs. "No… no… no." she moaned. Fresh tears fell from her eyes, wetting her cheeks, falling down to the ground between her feet.
Kakashi's face softened behind the mask. He never liked watching Sakura cry.
"I love Naruto… I love him. He loves me… Naruto loves me…" she hugged herself, her head bowed.
"I will marry him and I'll live happily ever after… Naruto loves me… That makes Naruto different from Sasuke. NARUTO LOVES ME." She sounded as though she was trying to convince herself.
He gripped her shoulder. Startled, the girl looked up to her former sensei.
"It isn't just a paper boat, Sakura…" her eyes widened like the size of beach balls upon realization. "Is it?" her hand clutched the sleeve of his shirt.
"Please," she whispered. "Don't tell him."
"Sensei," she called, panic-stricken.
She smiled, relieved. "Thank you." She wiped her cheeks again before bowing. "See ya later, okay? Don't be late!"
"OK." He assured. "For the first time in my life."
She giggled weakly. Kakashi smirked as he watched the girl hurry back to her house.
"Sakura-chan forgot that she used to call me a liar."
He sat on the grass under the shade of a large cherry blossom tree. In front of him was a medium-sized round lake, sprinkled with pink petals. Thin sun rays filtered through the tree pink tops, hitting the lake, creating an ethereal glow.
Surrounding the lake were many branched cherry blossom trees, old and large, blessed with thick shrubs of pink petals. His mother called these trees the Uchiha Cherry Blossom trees. Because the trees belonged to the Uchiha Clan or precisely, they belonged to him. These trees were special. According to his mother, these trees don't just wait for spring to blossom because the Uchiha Cherry Blossom trees forever blooms.
And now, this property was entirely his. He has the right to do whatever he wanted with it. And he did.
Across the lake were Sakura's 1000 paper boats, floating, sailing…
He smirked. Those were paper boats, right? They're supposed to be on water.
"It's time to let go."
He stood up and left.
He walked with his fists inside his pockets. He was appreciating his peace of mind when someone decided to drop a bomb.
There was a poof.
He frowned darkly.
"You going to the wedding?"
He ignored the inquiry.
"You should, you know. Watch the two exchange vows. Listen to their promises. Especially the bride…" Kakashis said slyly.
As expected, the boy glared.
"I betcha it would not hurt to hear her say 'I love you'."
"Get lost." He snapped and brushed past the elder man.
"Hey, Sasuke! Let me tell you her secret."
Kakashi caught up with his quick steps. "Are you sure?"
"Did you ask why Sakura gave you a paper boat almost everyday of your life?"
He stopped and glared at his former teacher. Kakashi mentally cheered. Bingo.
"I did." He replied stoically.
"She said it was a hobby." The boy replied dully.
Kakashi crossed his arms. "I asked her once." He was eyed with interest by the Uchiha. "And she told me the answer."
The Uchiha narrowed his eyes.
It's my way of telling Sasuke-kun how much I love him
His dark eyes widened.
"It isn't just a hobby. Most of all, it isn't just a paper boat…"
He was running. Back to the Uchiha Estate, back to the lake surrounded by cherry blossom trees… Frowning, he crouched, reached down to the lake and picked up the nearest paper boat.
"Damn it." He growled. Careful not to tear it since it was already wet in the center, he undid the fold.
His hands trembled.
"It can't be…"
I love you, Sasuke-kun
"It's a love letter."