Here's the prologue I promised!

Hope you like it as much as I do.

When Love Is Not Madness, It Is Not Love

Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Sakura had never really given much thought to love since her last attempt. With her first try being such an awful failure; she was more than a little reluctant to even bother with the other half of her species.

It would be a lie to say that she'd been given no reason to try. Every other day seemed to bring a new suitor or another pervert into the picture that she called life. In blindness or protection, Sakura turned down man after man.

They were all just so confusing and annoying, when it all came down to it. They either want everything from you or nothing at all (unless it belongs under the belt).

She honestly wanted nothing of it- couldn't be less interested. So many women went looking for love these days, but Sakura was not every woman.

The way women chased and stalked the idea of love made her sick. She didn't get why women, as a whole, needed to desperately cling to a man. It was almost degrading to the few females, who fought for equality and struggle to keep jobs in the same career field as men. Simple to say, dependency was so not a word in Sakura's vocabulary.

But why was she so pessimistic when it came to love? And why did she go so far just to not fall in love?

Her reason was straightforward- easy. She fell too hard the first time and fell for the wrong guy. He was a criminal and a victim all in one. Sasuke had been a criminal in the making and had more than proven he was a little deranged. Still, Sakura fell in love with him. She'd looked at his bloody past as something attractive and mysterious. She gave into his entire persona- accepting that he had a disturbing goal of killing the only

family he had left. Sakura's easy love made her sick.

What was worse, was that Sakura had believed, in despite of his goals, Sasuke would eventually come around. She'd honestly thought that he would push his revenge aside and come back to her. Sakura had been so wrong and so blind. It almost made her pity herself.

She had been so very wrong and Sakura realized it all too late. After years of being on a team with him, attempting to woo him, and ignoring his darkness, Sakura watched him walk out of her life to go to the dark side. Originally, she understood- tried to, but once he tried to kill Naruto, she gave up.

Love would never happen for her and Sakura would never openly let it. Whoever was going to win her heart, would almost have to cut it out.


Sleep deprived and weary, Sakura walked toward Hokage Tower. A summons had been sent to her twenty minutes ago, requesting her presence at the tower. The scroll had given her the basics, telling her of a mission close to home. After a bit of deciphering and reading between the lines, Sakura figured that it must be a medical mission.

She was most likely going to be assigned to some rich jack off who was willing to pay big bucks for skilled medical ninja.

The scroll had told her that it was no rush and that her presence wouldn't be needed immediately.

That meant that, said rich jack off had not arrived in Konoha as of yet.

So, Sakura was in for a very boring mission involving daily physicals and ass kissing. Lovely.

She walked quietly through the front doors and straight up the stairs. The other ninja in her path gave her grave looks that sent a sick feeling in her stomach. Their sympathetic glances alerted her to the fact that she was missing something- something extremely serious.

Her gait sped up considerably and Sakura didn't bother with the assistant desk. She went straight toward the Hokage's office. Not bothering to knock, Sakura slammed through the doors.

Tsunade looked up, an annoyed expression on her face. "What the hell?" she asked angrily. However, after looking at the room's new occupant, her appearance changed from aggravated to piteous.

Something was definitely up and Sakura wanted to get right to the point. "What's up with everyone? I keep getting these strange glances and I feel like I'm missing something." She said bluntly.

The blonde-haired Hokage ignored her pupil's disrespectful tone. She knew that she was about to drop a large bomb on Sakura's mostly put together life. Tsunade sighed softly and then dove straight in, "Sakura, how long has it been since Sasuke left?"

His name felt like a slap in the face- like ice down her spine. It gave her chills and Sakura felt ill as she asked, "What?"

Tsunade's eyes dropped to the table and she couldn't find it in herself to look up. "It's been six years, correct?" she inquired, stupidly. She knew the exact day that Sasuke Uchiha left. Her train of questions was just her soft way of gently shoving Sakura in the right direction- the reason why she was there.

"Yes, I'd say it's been that long." Sakura responded, trying to calm herself. She hated the idea of being so easily affected by a single name; it made her feel weak and if there was one thing she didn't want to be, it was weak.

A blonde head rose a fraction of an inch, encouraged by her pupil's response. She could hear it in her voice. Sakura was trying to understand. "What would you say if I told you Sasuke Uchiha was alive?" the Hokage asked her second question.

Sakura almost blanched. She found her question extremely strange, but she just went with it, hoping that her teacher would get to the point. "I would be happy, I guess. It would mean he has a chance to change." Sakura said indifferently.

"Okay. Now, what would you say if he was coming back to Konoha?"

She almost fell over. Her hands gripped the wall like it was her life. Sakura stared at Tsunade, trying to get the room to stop spinning around her. It was in her stare, in that moment, that she saw it on her shishou's face. That wasn't it; there was so much more and Sakura wasn't even sure she wanted to hear it. She wanted nothing more at that moment then to just run out of the room and go home, but she knew she couldn't.

"Two ninja found his body just outside the forest. He was covered in blood and there is an intense amount of injury to his person, but they say he has a strong pulse. The ninja are bringing him here as we speak." Tsunade went on, trying to ignore Sakura's shocked expression. "I know this is hard for you and that there is a lot of bad blood there, but I need you. I can't bring him back from the dead and run the hospital at the same time. It would make my job a ton easier if I could put my trust in you to look after

Sasuke." She finished, glancing at her student.

Sakura closed her eyes, thinking through the whole situation. She wanted to say no- she did, but it was Sasuke. It was him. How could she say no? "I understand." Sakura deadpanned.

Relief rushed the Hokage's body and Tsunade nearly smiled. "Thank you." She whispered. "I know this is hard."

You have no idea. Sakura couldn't help but think.

Her knuckles went white as she gripped the door handle that led her into her nightmare. She knew this room would contain a face and a person that she had long since given up on. Sakura didn't want to see him- didn't even want to know him anymore. Sasuke was the person that would drudge up her past and open long-since forgotten wounds. Quietly she pushed the door open and squeezed her way in.

Just as she had expected, the mangled body of Sasuke Uchiha lie stock-still and dead asleep in the medical bed. Her eyes ran over his form and she took in the medical tape and gauze that lined his entire torso. She couldn't help but notice the red staining the white.

Without much encouragement, her mind switched from normal Sakura to medical-ninja Sakura.

She gently removed his med-wraps, checking all the fresh stitches underneath. Sakura knew that Tsunade was more than efficient when it came to the medical field, but if was just her natural instinct to check. One by one, she changed his wraps, replacing them with clean ones.

Her eyes ran over Sasuke's face, trying to gage how unconscious he really was. There was no life there- nothing but pain. His face looked sunken in, cheeks sallow and pale. She could see the telltale signs of sleep deprivation; his eyes had deep purple bags underneath. He looked terrible.

Just as she was about to turn back to his bandages, Sakura caught sight of a scar that stretched from under his ear and along his chin. It was jagged- unhealed. Sakura couldn't make sense of it. Why would he leave it to scar? Where was Kabuto to heal it?

She didn't understand. It looked like a serrated knife had done the damage and if Sakura had the right impression, someone had tried to slit Sasuke's throat. Luckily, they missed. A feeling of sympathy flashed through her body and Sakura fought a sad smile. What had happened to Sasuke?

Her hand went to his cheek against her will and Sakura snatched it back as fast as she could. She couldn't do this, didn't want to. The last thing she wanted was to fall for him all over again. She didn't want to pity him and put her trust back into him. He could still be insane- could still be on the warpath.

Sakura wouldn't trust him. Not until he gave her reason to.

End Flashback…

He never would.

And he never did.

However, Sakura couldn't blame herself. She'd never even given him a chance to hurt her; he'd just taken them without asking. It wasn't her fault and she'd never believe it was. Not ever.

The only thing Sasuke had ever done or ever changed was that he made her hate him. In the end, he made her hate him so much that it almost killed her.

Hope you liked this!

Please R&R.