Author's Note: Angst one-shot. But I don't even dare to put "By: Yummei-sama no Hayashi" because it's not even entirely mine. The idea is CrystalRenee's, who's a good friend of my "twin," Tenshi no Hana-chan. She gave us an outline of how she wants the story to turn out, because she can't write it herself – she's committed to her current priority fics, I think. Just like Ten-chan.
Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine. Not even the entire plot is mine.
There was no rain of cherry blossoms.
Sasuke thought it would be awfully satirical of the gods should a snowstorm of pink petals begin to swirl from out of the darkness of dawn. Thankfully, they had decided to pity him – the blossoms would be blooming late that year. Instead, he was walking an empty forest path, only the light of the moon to guide him to his destination. It would be the first time he would visit the place, having stayed away from it for the past three months.
He was alone again. Just like he always was. Just like he always thought he would be.
Just like she always said would never happen if he just let her into his life.
"Why?" Sakura asked in a desperately shaky whisper. "Why don't you ever tell me anything? Why do you shut everyone out? Why don't you say anything to me-"
"Why should I tell you anything?" he spat. "You meddle too much. Stop bothering me all the time."
Her anguish was deafening. "Aren't you going to be lonely by yourself? Sasuke-kun, you told me that being alone is painful! I know that very well, so much that it hurts!"
What did she know about the pain he felt?
"I have family and friends. But… if you leave, for me… to me, it's the same thing as being alone!"
"I…" she cried, "I love you more than anything!"
It was as if his world stopped, that space and time was stripped of their being so that all was left was her voice.
"If you are by my side, I will make sure you won't regret it. I will make every day more enjoyable, and you will be happy! I would do anything for you! That's why… I beg of you! Please stay here! I will even help you with your revenge! There must be something I can do! That's why …please… stay here with me… And… if that's not possible… please… take me with you…"
They both struggled to contain themselves, he having at easier than she did. It was far easier to hide his emotions – perhaps this was why everyone thought he was cold and emotionless.
All he could do was be cold to her. It was ever the only thing he knew how to do.
"Even after all this time… you're still… annoying."
"Sakura… thank you."
Maybe he cared that she loved him, after all.
Sasuke had been idle for those three months. He had not moved much from his room, sitting as if nothing mattered anymore. It was a silent, cheerless, and hollow existence, hours warping into days warping into weeks without him noticing. He weaved in and out of restless dreams, all of them filled with the feeling of being unable to be fulfilled.
His limbs were left limp, and his usually hollowed eyes were more soulless than before. His usually fiery temper under that icy exterior became extinguished into passionless nothing. All he could think of was that it was too late for anything to happen. Many people attempted to get his attention, but there were two people who didn't bother to try. One of them knew it was useless, the other just couldn't anymore. Not anymore.
Perhaps, if Fate had decided to play with his miserable life in a different way, it wouldn't be as it was then. It was the only way he could cope now – always blame it on Fate, never one's self. He was only a victim of circumstance, never the one who inflicted upon himself the pain he felt.
She always told him he was wrong, but he only realized just now that she was right.
He ground his teeth, digging his fingers into the forest dirt and bunching it up. The sun burned into his eyes as he lay there, burnt and torn and bleeding. Of all the wounds he felt, however, the one that stung the most was the one that was clawing at his chest, of defeat and of terrible shame. Yet again, it seemed as if he was miles away from his goal.
"Sasuke-kun," Sakura murmured softly, kneeling beside him and resting his head on her lap. That green light of life flowed out of her hands, and his wounds began to heal. Her tone was beseeching, coaxing. "Stop beating yourself up. Please. You did very well, and you know that."
She was the light of life that was trying to heal those psychological wounds of his. The light of life that he was always refusing.
"He got away, you stupid woman," he growled, the gurgle in his throat telling both of them he was about to cry. "He got away again."
Despite his insults and his attempts to push her healing hand away, she was still there, trying desperately. "Sasuke-kun," she pleaded when he slapped the hand that was stroking his hair soothingly away from him. "You got close. You got very close. I'm sure that next time…"
"Not without your help," he said, half-despairingly, half-angrily. "It's always with your help. I want to beat him without your help."
Her green eyes were tear-filled, and when they overflowed, her tears dropped to his face to mingle with his own. "You can't shut yourself out forever, Sasuke-kun."
He closed his coal-black orbs, unwilling to see hers. They were filled with so much information about her soul that it was startling. "It's raining," he murmured.
The sun beat down on them both. "Yes… yes it is."
A cold wind blew, and he shivered slightly. Winter was ending, and soon, spring would bring those beautiful cherry blossom storms that he feared the most. They were so delicate, so fragile that it was frightening.
He was thankful that as of the moment, there still was no hurricane of cherry blossom petals.
Ramen was never really his thing, but his entire team insisted that they go on at least two ramen treats per week. It was therapeutic, they claimed, as they frantically tried to lift his spirits every time they had a chance.
It was just the two of them right then – missions were running rampant and the other two couldn't be there. She blew on her soup quietly, and he watched her. Catching his eye, she gave him a quick smile, but he turned away.
"You know, Sasuke-kun," she said brightly after a while, "I've been thinking… you should be dating girls already."
Sasuke spat soup all over the counter.
"What the hell do you mean?!" he spluttered, wiping his mouth, as Sakura doubled over in laughter. "I'm fine by myself!"
Sakura's eyes were filled with mirth. "Well, you're going to have to 'restore' your clan soon, right? If you want to get started, you might as well get yourself a couple of girlfriends!"
Sasuke's fierce blush dissipated, and the light atmosphere disappeared as quickly as it came. "You talk as if that's my priority right now. What's important right now, to me-"
"-is your revenge, I know," she continued quietly, watching him with a soft expression. "It's just that… I can't imagine you not completing your goals, you know. You were always the overachiever – you'll be completing that goal, and even more than you expect yourself to do."
"How surprising," he said monotonously. "I thought you were the one who was so against revenge."
"I still am," she murmured, staring at the counter. Then she looked at him, her eyes bright with a smile. "But that doesn't mean I doubt or condemn your hate for your brother. No matter what I say, you'll still go for that revenge, and all I can do is try and support you through it."
Sasuke stood up and put his money on the counter. "You still are annoying, after all," he said stonily, glancing at her with the corner of his eye.
"That's true," she said, her expression amused. "But you haven't changed from being a jerk, either." She grinned at him. "Maybe that's why I want to take care of you so much."
His stomach twisted. There were so many moments that he wished he could change for the better, but it was too late for realizing exactly how idiotic he was. The only thing he could do now was brave this path he trudged now.
Wishes, he believed before, were only for children who didn't know the reality of the world. Miracles never happened; they were non-existent, intangible, unreachable.
But there were times when he believed in miracles, if only briefly. Those were the times when he could feel her love. It was a miracle she insisted her one-sided love on him even after years of rejection.
It was only now that it crossed his mind that miracles were real – it was a tragic miracle that he realized he loved her when it was too late.
He slapped her hand away from his face as she tried to wipe away the grime with a damp cloth. "Sasuke-kun-"
"Look, just stop it, okay?" he snarled. "I don't want this; I don't want your kindness."
Again, a sad smile crept up her lips. "I know you hate me, Sasuke-kun, but at least let me show that I don't want to hate you."
"Hate me," he said venomously. "I don't want your kindness. I don't… deserve your kindness."
"I said I don't want to," she replied gently. "What happened back there… you using the Curse Seal-"
"Stop reminding me!" he barked. "Stop rubbing it in – I know you told me not to use it, I know you practically groveled at me not to, but I did it anyway, and yes, my mind will rot because the Curse Seal is going to take over my whole person if I'm not caref-"
"Sasuke-kun."She enveloped him into a warm hug, interrupting. His optics widened in surprise. "You used the Curse Seal not because you wanted the power it gave you, but because you wanted all the means possible to be able to protect us… and the village. I'm not saying it's a good thing, your Curse Seal, but you used it in good intention."
He didn't have the will to push her back, not this time. Why was it that her words always wormed their way into his psyche? She was his comfort, the light always trying to reach for his hand, and he was too much of a coward to admit it.
In truth, he wasn't as upset with the Curse Seal as he was with being a coward.
He was nearly there, and that gnawing feeling in his chest intensified. He realized he was all of the things he had called his blond friend over the years – stupid, foolish, a freaking idiot, dead last. It was no use denying the fact now.
All he wanted was to make her hate him. So that she could see that he wasn't the one she deserved, so that she wouldn't have to constantly be hurt trying to take care of him. Why was it that she couldn't see what was good for her, which he knew wasn't in him?
The answer was simple – she knew best what was good for her, and it happened to be him. He just didn't think so. She bloomed when she was with him. Her happiness was with trying to put up with his idiocy and his coldness. She basked in the heat of the raging flames that was his emotions, because it was her happiness to try and quell the most destructive parts of them.
His heartless façade was an attempt, subconsciously, to protect her from himself, and in the end, he drove her away from the one thing she wanted the most.
"You are probably the most idiotic jerk I have ever encountered!" Sakura said, laughing weakly.
"Sakura, stop talking-"
"I mean, really. I told you I would-" She paused, coughing. "I told you that I and Naruto would help you in your goals, and you-"
"Sakura, I mean it-"
"-and you still insisted on being stupid and went after Itachi alone!" Sakura laughed lightly again. "You-"
"Sakura!" he bellowed, and she stopped talking abruptly. "If you keep talking-" His throat went dry, and he swallowed. "If you keep talking you'll exhaust yourself."
"It doesn't matter," she whispered, curling up in his arms as the rain beat down on them. Finally, the weather was agreeing on what Sasuke felt right then. "I'm tired… but now I have what I want."
"You need to shut up and conserve your energy," Sasuke said, his voice breaking as he tried to run for Konoha with her in his arms. "It'll be easier for the medics to heal you-"
"Oh Sasuke-kun," she said softly, "stop it. You know that I'm beyond saving."
"Don't say that!" he snarled. Maybe if he got angry, maybe, she would stop dying and try to hold on to life. He wrapped his arms tighter around her and conveyed his warmth to her, as if it would help her extend her life. "Don't say that… don't leave… don't-"
"I'm glad you're done with your goals," Sakura whispered. "You've killed him. You can continue your life… without any regrets."
"No I can't!" he cried, becoming more and more desperate. "I'm not done with my goals – I still have to restore my clan, and I want do that with you!"
"That's a flattering thought," her amused voice growing weaker with each breath.
"Just live, all right? Live and you can tease me relentlessly about what I've been saying right now. Come on, Sakura, come on-"
"It's too late for that... don't you think?"
He didn't want to believe it. He couldn't. He somehow thought, in the haze of his mind, that disbelieving the fact that she was disappearing would make the event less real. "Sakura…" he croaked, tears from his eyes mingling with the rain. Sakura frowned at him through drooped eyes.
"Are those tears I see?" she said, her voice now dropping to barely a whisper. She smiled, the same crystalline liquid falling from her dulling green optics. "Oh Sasuke-kun, please don't do this to me. I want to see… a true smile from you… because I don't want you broken…" She reached up to cup his wet cheek.
And against his will, he smiled for her.
The early dawn light filtered through the canopy of the awakening forest and rested on the granite headstone that bore her name. He was so afraid to touch it. He could have laughed at how vulnerable he must appear.
He could almost hear her gentle laughter when the wind blew.
In the end, his hate and his obsession had torn his life apart. It was this same hate and obsession that had taken away the one thing he truly wanted – the peace he could get from her bright green eyes, the ones that wouldn't open again.
It was now too late for any realization or self-discovery. Because it wouldn't help either of them now.
"Revenge will never bring you happiness… neither you, nor me."
In the end, it was that what she said that bore the weight of their destiny.
"I know that." Dammit, he knew.
:.: like water is for a thirsty traveler :.:
Author's Note: I am NOT writing angst for a very, very long time. I just realized how depressed this story made me feel as I wrote it. Maybe I should write comedy next time.
Credits go to Crystal Renee for the plot bunny.