"Haruno Sakura, do you—"
Startled, the couple turned around to look at the entrance. There, Uchiha Sasuke stood, frowning heavily, wearing his dark clothes.
His dark eyes were intense. Not…cold but very intense. There was a prominent scowl forming on his face, making him looked like a volcano ready to burst and spat lava. The guests looked at him with curiosity.
The antisocial Uchiha had left his habitat to mingle and watch his former teammates marry.
He walked towards them, his pace slow but sure. Sakura's green eyes were wide with apprehension. What…what is he doing here?
The Uchiha stopped in front of her like a towering black shadow, watching her face flashed myriad of expressions. Beside the bride, Naruto stared at the dark-haired ninja, yellow fine brows scrunched together.
"Yo, Sasuke," Naruto said. "What—"
Sasuke cleared his throat. "Sorry." His face darkened. "I'm late."
The small crowd invited for the ceremony raised their brows. What a Kakashi-thing to do. But he's later than Kakashi.
Naruto recovered from shock. "Well…" he drawled slowly, shrugging his broad shoulders. "…that's ok."
But Sasuke didn't move. His eyes remained locked with Sakura's confused orbs.
"Well…?" demanded Naruto, lifting his brows.
It scared her. The way he looked at her.
His fine eyebrows slowly drew together as he lowered his head to her, blue-black strands falling over his eyes. "We have to talk."
"WHAT!" the blonde exclaimed. "Man, we're in the middle of a ceremony here!"
This time, Sasuke glanced at him arrogantly. "So?" he said with a lift of his eyebrow. "I'll talk to her even if we're in a middle of war." He paused then smirked. "Dobe."
Naruto's blonde hair shook. "You—"
Sakura immediately interjected. "We will talk, Sasuke. AFTER the wedding."
"No." His eyes went back looking at her. "We will talk NOW." With that, he grabbed her wrist.
"HEY! She's my fiancée! You are not allowed to GRAB her hand in front of me!" The crowd was starting to worry. At the back of the uneasy pack, Kakashi was smiling at the little commotion happening in front.
Sasuke smirked. "We will talk now." he tugged at her hand but Naruto took Sakura's other hand and pulled for her too.
"She's not going anywhere, teme!"
Sasuke's scowl deepened. "Let go, dobe."
"You let go, Sasuke!" Sakura snapped, pulling for her wrist.
"Yeah, right! YOU let go, teme!"
The grip on her wrist tightened. "I swear. Don't make me MAKE you let go."
Naruto's brows shot up. Then, he grinned and dramatically, he dropped Sakura's wrist.
The crowd jaw-dropped. WHAT THE HELL?
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING NARUTO!" screamed Tsunade.
Beside her, Ino jumped to her feet, her fangs growing longer by minute. "YEAH! JUST WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, MORON!" the blonde girl shrieked, swinging her fists.
Sakura was looking at Naruto in horror. Her face was pale and like the others, her jaw hung open. "N-Naruto… what are YOU doing?" she gasped. Naruto grinned and folded his arms behind his head.
"Letting you go."
Sakura's green eyes widened even more. "Naruto… don't do this to me! Don't—"she yelped when Sasuke started to drag her out of the place.
"NARUTO!" shouted Sakura, stretching her other hand to him.
But Naruto just waved at her cheerfully. "Be happy, Sakura-chan!"
Angrily, she turned to Sasuke, glaring at his back as he continued to drag her somewhere. Around them, villagers watched them with curiosity. She tried to dig her heels on the ground to stop him from dragging her but he was strong.
Frustrated, she yelled at him, "Let me go! LET ME GO!" she writhed and pulled.
"Let me go!"
"No." they turned to a corner and were walking along a cobblestone street with trees lining the path.
"Sasuke, I'm really, really angry!" she snapped. "Stop this!"
But Sasuke suddenly whirled around and pulled her forward towards him. Sakura yelped as she hit his chest and bounced back to her feet.
"Liar." He hissed darkly.
With a vicious tug, she freed her wrist. "What are you talking about?" her other hand massaged her wrist.
"You said… when you marry, marry someone you loved."
Sparkling green eyes widened. "Well…" she swallowed and averted her gaze. "That's right." She glanced at him cautiously. "So…?"
She saw the shift of expression on his handsome face. Her heart thumped strongly as she watched his hand reached down to the front pocket of his pants.
"Then, what is this?" he raised his fingers. Stuck between his long fingers was—
He pressed it at her palm. She looked down to it and air froze in her lungs.
I love you.
Tears started to brim her eyes.
"…how…" she whispered, looking down to the paper. "…how… did… you… find out?" pink bangs fell to hide her eyes.
Sasuke's face softened slightly at the sight of her. Pink strands fell around her face, bangs over her eyes and shoulders. Gently, he took her hand.
"Come with me." He said in a low voice. Sakura bit her lip, her eyes watering behind the thick strands of pink hair that covered her eyes. Emotionally exhausted, the girl let the Uchiha led her to—
Her gaze blurred as tears fattened and rolled down her cheeks. She was trembling, her heart racing in an unhealthy pace. Sasuke felt her pulse throbbing against his fingers. For a delicate-looking girl, her heartbeat was unusually strong. Gently, the boy squeezed her hand before letting it fall back to her side.
"I lied." Sasuke said simply, pocketing his fists to hide his anxiety. She didn't respond but only stared behind him. At her paper boats. At his paper boats. Sasuke hid a cringe when her eyes moved to glance at him.
"Why… w—why did you keep them?" she asked, confused. "I…I… you said—"
"I don't know." Sasuke replied with a narrowed stare. "When I left, your paper boats are the only things I brought with me."
"…because, I—" his eyes narrowed, "I like them."
Sakura frowned tearfully at him. "You…like them? Just like that?"
She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her dress. "You're… w—wasting my time…-"she turned away abruptly but Sasuke grabbed her shoulder and twisted her forward to face him.
"I know." He stated stiffly. "If you really want to marry Naruto, I won't stop you. But…I— I just wanted you to know that I kept them." He added silently, almost sadly.
At this, fresh tears flowed. Sobs escaped her mouth as she pressed a hand over her mouth to stifle her cry. He looked down to her with a narrowed stare, his chest felt incredibly warm and…painful. He bit his lip, his hands leaving her shoulders. Her happiness… is it with Naruto?
The realization of his question made his stomach twist agonizingly. His eyes watched her tears, the expression of her brilliant green eyes.
He painfully realized that those letters… those love letters were dated years ago.
Years where she still loved him. And those years were gone.
Today… is a present. To her. A present. A past.
Where does he fit?
He stepped back, turning away from her with a wounded expression. "I'm sorry." He whispered between clenched teeth. Inside his pockets, his fists shook. "Sakura…I—"he looked down, his black-blue strands falling over his eyes, his mouth clenched tightly.
"I thought—"he shook his head and glanced at her, silky bangs framed his cheeks and eyes. His gray-tinted eyes showed ill-concealed sadness as he watched her cry.
He inhaled heavily first then his shoulders slouched, acquiring his typical Uchiha posture. This selfishness, his selfish desire— the wish I kept for years.
"I like your laugh."
"I want to hear it everyday."
"So, marry me someday."
It would remain as a wish.
Not a reality.
Only a heart's desire.
He lowered his head. "I'm sorry." He said in a low voice. "I ruined your day."
"I thought… well, I was stupid to assume that—"
"—you love me." He muttered. Her breathing hitched. "Sakura." He raised his eyes to her. His eyebrows lowered over his eyes. One of his pale hands reached up to her hair. Gently, he patted her head, pink strands curling around his long fingers.
Slowly, she met his gaze. His hand froze from tapping her head, his throat clogged at the sight of her glossy lips and watery eyes. Forcing his mouth to work, he muttered with a shrug, "I'll bring you back to him."
She blinked slowly, her lashes sticking together.
His fingers slid slowly down to her hair. "…do you hate me?" asked Sasuke.
She stared up to him, bewildered at his question. "No."
The corner of his mouth curled upward but his eyes remained distant. Melancholy. Silently wishing, longing.
He took his hand off her hair and held it out to her. "Let's go." He cleared his throat. "…he's waiting for you."
His heart clenched.
"Why are you doing this?"
"I don't know."
She tilted her head in confusion.
"But I'm sure." He took her hand with both of his hands. "With you, I can be happy."
"Only with you."
Her heart nearly stopped, then beat harder.
"I want to be your most important person."
His hands tightened around her small hand.
His head lowered, raven bangs fell over his eyes, and slowly, he lifted her hand to his face. "Or at least, be important to you."
Her lack of reaction served as a salt to his already bleeding wound. His hands tightened around her hand, his mouth clenched under his long bangs.
His jaw moved.
"I loved you for 1000 times."
His expression slightly softened behind the curtain of black hair.
"I said it a thousand times."
He didn't see her expression. His eyes fluttered open as he felt her feathery-soft lips pressed against the back of his hand. He saw her face, the soft expression embedded on it, her eyes closed and her lips he wished to savor was on his skin, warming him.
Her eyelids slowly lifted, revealing the green of her irises. It seemed that her eyes smiled at him, her lips moved to smile against his skin.
Slowly, the warmth of her lips left him and he yearned for it. He wished to be healed, to be forgiven, to be happy. But only with this woman, he would achieve those things, those wishes.
She showed him a gentle smile, her eyes now dry from crying. But the residues remained at the corner of her eyes, her lashes still sticking together. She retracted her hand from his and Sasuke silently let go. His beautiful eyes watched her walked over the edge of the round lake. He stared at her back, waiting.
Her hand slipped down to her dress' pocket.
"And I will say it again."
She gave him a sideways glance with a beautiful smile.
She held out her hand. Stuck between her index and middle finger was a white paper boat.
He slowly smirked.
How many times would you say I love you?
She turned to him, the light from the sunshine filtering through the pink petals, enveloped her, making her hair glow and her eyes to sparkle like jewels.
He gave her a ghost of somewhat a smile or a smirk.
With a tilt of her head to the right, she said those words.
"I love you."
A year and 5 months after.
He watched her from the distance. She sat on a swing he made for her two months ago for her birthday. The swing hung onto a thick branch of large tree that stood near the edge of the lake, giving her a perfect view of the lake and the paper boats.
For a moment, he hesitated, watching her grit her teeth at the ugly product of her knitting. Petals fell from the trees, some sticking to her hair and skirt. The breeze blew softly, bringing few strands of pink hair on her face.
His eyebrows drew together when he realize that she was knitting a black sock with tomato designs on it. He rolled his eyes at her childishness and smirked arrogantly when she poked the sock harshly and squealed when the needle struck her finger.
"Mou—that hurts!" she growled and sucked her finger while glaring reproachfully at the material.
His smirk widened. His girlfriend was never good in domestic skills. Even her cooking sucked.
Remembering his reasons of seeking her out, he approached her, his posture slouch, one hand tucked in his pocket while he made his way to her.
"Oi," he called when he came to stand in front of her. His eyes surveyed her pale face under her pink bangs, her teeth nipping her bottom lip.
"Sakura," he said abruptly, irritation laced in his voice. Still, she didn't look up, engrossed with her work. His lashes lowered over his eyes as he exhaled, annoyed.
"Look at me." He bit out, his brows wrinkling in irritation. With a pout, Sakura looked up.
"What is it, Sasuke-kun?" she asked sweetly.
Sasuke blinked, his cheeks reddening slightly. Now or never.
Careful not to hurt her in any means, Sasuke thrust something close to her face. Startled, the girl moved her head back and stared. "What—"
She snapped her eyes up at him. The Uchiha gave her an unfaltering look with a lift of an eyebrow. Her eyes lowered to the thing hovering in front of her face.
Unbelievable. Sasuke-kun gave her a—
"…a teddy bear!" she squealed happily and dropped the sock. Her arms went around the average-sized brown stuffed toy. A red ribbon was around its neck, tied into a bow.
Her green eyes with sliver spots across the irises shone with gratitude as she looked up to him with a wide smile. "Thank you!" she exclaimed and giggled, hugging the toy tightly, pressing it tightly to her neck.
As her arms tightened around it, a tape-recorded voice, clear as though it was real, spoke:
"I love you."
She jumped and held the teddy bear an arm length away from her as though it will explode. "Ehhh?" Curious, she pressed the stomach with her thumbs.
"I love you."
Her brows shot up. That voice… low, solid, husky tenor… Familiar, very familiar.
She pressed it again.
"I love you."
She blinked twice. "Sasuke…kun?" she said uncertainly. "Sasuke-kun?" she repeated, talking to the bear. After several times of blinking, she finally exclaimed with certainty.
Sakura heard a snort above her. Green eyes looked up to obsidian eyes— eyes she loved do much. Sasuke grunted and like a stubborn child, whipped his head to the side, his cheeks slight pink and his brows low and furrowed.
Slowly, Sakura grinned and from the corner of his eye, he saw her beautiful yet cheeky grin. Finally… after a year and five months, he told her! Was it amazing? And his way was pretty hip. And she loved it. It took him a year to tell her…
Her grin widened and her arms tightened around the toy.
A childish giggle resounded from her. She could not stop herself. Her giggles increased in tune.
"Stop it…" Sasuke dragged out, annoyed.
She pushed her knuckles to her mouth to tamper down her giggles. "I can't help it…"
She grinned. "It's so…bizarre."
He narrowed his eyes at her.
"But," she hurried, "…I loved it."
Sasuke snorted and crossed his arms. Sourly, he watched her through his thick lashes. Her funny expressions somehow amused him. With a smile, Sakura raised her eyes to him and said, "Thank you."
His dark eyes with gray-tinted color at the center narrowed in irritation. The expression on his face, in her eyes, was adorable. He gave a low grunt and spun around, eyebrows in a straight line and his features sharper and scowling.
Unconsciously, he was expecting something more. More than an effortless thank you. To think that he shed his pride just to say those words… and suffered immense ego-nakedness.
At least, a kiss will suffice, right?
He snorted again and proceeded into — funny it may sound— sulking.
He felt a movement behind him. He raised his eyebrow then his features softened as her arms went around his midsection, the stuffed toy dangling from her hand.
The corner of his mouth lifted, feeling her pressed the side of her face over his shoulder blade. Pink long strands danced over his peripheral vision while some tangled with his black hair.
"Ne, Sasuke-kun," she began. "I love you too," came her soft whisper. Inwardly, a haughty smirk appeared on his face.
…It was even more.
"Then," Sasuke started flatly. "Marry me."
His smirk widened when her arms grew slack and eventually let go. He turned around to look at her clearly and his smirk turned into an annoyingly arrogant grin when he saw her face.
"Was…it a proposal?" she asked meekly, her cheeks flushed.
He snorted and rose to his full height while crossing his arms. "No."
Sakura's fine brows slanted above her thick-lashed eyes. "No?" she echoed, confused. "What was it, then?"
He lifted his head and looked down to her with a smug look. "An order."
Sakura blinked and twitched at his obvious arrogance.
He scowled. "Why what?"
"Why do you want me to marry you?" she asked, her eyes sharp.
He raised a brow as he stared at her silently. Their staring match continued for a minute or more. Without taking his eyes off her, he took the stuffed toy from her grip, lifted it in front of her face and pressed its stomach, holding it up at Sakura's eyelevel.
"I love you."
She blinked and looked startled for a while, her cheeks red. Then, she laughed loudly.
"Hn." His eyelids lowered. "Your laughter."
She gazed at him, confused. "…my…laughter?"
And she remembered.
"I like your laugh."
"I want to hear it everyday."
"So, marry me someday."
She smiled softly. "Oh, Sasuke-kun," she giggled and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. She breathed in his smell and pressed herself closer to him. Sasuke put an arm around her while clutching the teddy bear with the other, his chin resting above her head.
"Perfect!" she exclaimed giddily. "I knitted a pair of socks for you to wear on our wedding day!"
Just press it.
And you'll know.
Press it for 1002 times.
You'll know how I feel about you.
I said it once. But you can hear it more than 1001 times. You lost.
You're so mean!
I lost to you! You're sooooo clever, Sasuke-kun!
Well, I can fold another thousand of love letters for you!
You're wasting paper.
With your money, you can buy me a thousand papers.
I can give you anything you want in this world.