Imagination over Intelligence

by Sakura Uchiha

A/N: Hey guys. I kinda like this pairing and saw this quote and all of the sudden a plotbunny attacked me!

He didn't know what had almost completely destroyed her, but already he hated it. SaiSaku

"Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence."

--

A painting, Sai had decided, had more feeling in it than a textbook. Textbooks were just words. Paintings were emotions, erupting from a paintbrush and splattering across a canvas. Nothing was to be analyzed, or carefully considered. Paintings were raw. They were true pieces of a shattered heart. Textbooks were dead of life.

"Reading will make you even uglier." He warned, dropping down next to her on the bench. It wasn't a nice day outside and looked about to rain. Sakura looked messy and tired. Her hair was frizzy and unkempt and her outfit was rumpled and gray. Shadows floated beneath her washed-out green eyes. Normally they sparkled with vivacity but today they reminded Sai of the very textbook she studied.

"Thanks for the concern." She said dryly, without looking up. Sai's ears pricked up.

"Am I doing better?"

"I was being sarcastic, Sai."

"Oh." He stopped, then looked back at her again. "...What's that?"

Sakura sighed. "Never mind." She closed her book and shoved it into a large canvas bag. "I'm going home to sleep. Looks like rain." She mumbled, standing up to leave. Sai caught her shoulder.

"Can I come?" He asked hesitantly. He was new to this but he could tell that Sakura wasn't her usual happy self. Actually, she was slowly changing since he had first met her, from a hyperactive annoying human representation of a hummingbird to a walking corpse. Whenever he tried asking Naruto or Kakashi, all the answers he got involved one person.

Sakura seemed to deflate. "No, Sai. I need to sleep-"

"I won't keep you up. I promise. I'll just paint." He said quickly. He didn't know why he wanted to go to Sakura's house, it'd probably be boring. Nowadays she was always studying or sleeping or moping. Sai had noticed she didn't encourage him whenever it seemed he had identified an emotion. Perhaps she didn't even notice it anymore.

Sakura rolled her eyes. "Alright, though I don't get why you want to come. I'm just going to be sleeping." She admonished. She turned around without waiting and started towards her apartment. Sai stood watching her before he followed. He felt a new ache in his chest, one he'd never felt before. It felt like his chest was being constricted and the air leaving his lungs. His fingers curled into fists. All he seemed to see at that moment was Sakura's pain; if he were to paint it, it would be a rosebush with all the petals gone, leaving behind only ugly dead leaves and angry thorns. He didn't know what had almost completely destroyed her, but already he hated it.

--

The appearance of Sakura's apartment was fitting to her attitude lately. The walls were lined with shelves that were crammed with books. Different trinkets and pictures from happier times seemed to be cluttered on every possible surface. Despite these signs of life, they were all coated with dust. The apartment was dark and Sakura didn't bother turning on a light.

"There's food in the kitchen if you get hungry." She pointed to a corner where there was a stove and three cupboards, plus a tiny square table and bench. Sai's mind fluttered back to the image of Sakura's sad green eyes.

She went into the bedroom, leaving Sai to his own devices. For awhile he wandered around, examining dusty photos. He found many pictures of Sakura and that man, Sasuke, although it appeared they had been accidental on Sasuke's part. His face was always blurred like he'd only found out he was being photographed a second too late.

There were also many pictures of Sakura as a little girl. Her intelligent eyes looked at the camera inquisitively and something in Sai's chest ached again. It ached for that Sakura, who looked at cameras curiously and smiled embarrassedly when photographed with other people. It ached for the Sakura who had once bothered to dust all of those pictures and trinkets carefully. He touched a picture of her that seemed a little more recent. It had been placed face-down and behind several others. She was standing next to Sasuke, who was glaring at the camera and had a hand gently placed on her wrist.

"What are you doing?"

Sai gasped, startled. Sakura was staring coldly at him. "Could you leave?"

Sai decided to ignore her. "Why was this picture face-down?" he pointed to the picture in question. Sakura's hands flew to his.

"Put that down!"

"Why was it face-down?" He repeated, catching her hands. She faltered and pulled away from his grasp. He stepped forward, longing to make contact with her again. He placed his hand on her wrist as he had seen Sasuke do in the picture. Sakura flinched.

"Go away, Sai." Her voice trembled. She sat down on the sunken couch, quivering. Sai sat down next to her slowly, tenderly placing a hand on her back. She didn't look at him, instead staring off into space.

"You can tell me." He continued. He didn't want to give up on her.

"No, Sai, I can't."

"Why not?"

There was an awful silence. Sai knew she was going to say something he wouldn't like.

"...You wouldn't understand."

--

The image haunted Sai. He tried to draw the scene over, but it seemed there was something in the picture that he couldn't quite capture. Was it something in Sasuke's eyes? Or perhaps in the way Sakura stood?

He sighed and pushed away his sketchbook. It was raining outside, and getting darker. Sakura was probably poring over her textbooks at her tiny depressed kitchen table, knowing the picture was merely yards away but trying to forget it existed, yet unable to throw it away. She knew it made her feel pain, and yet, for some irrational reason, she kept the picture.

And this connected to Sasuke, and the missing piece from his sketch that made the sketch somehow wrong.

Sai went to the library, deciding that there ought to be some book on the matter. He had read all kinds of books on emotions, and knew books had been written on the most ludicrous subjects. But, how to go about searching for such a book?

He wandered up and down the shelves of books, searching for something intangible.

After hours, it seemed he would not find any book to help him. The excursion to the library had been fruitless. He packed up his bag and walked, through the rain, back to his own home. His thoughts were a dog chasing its tail; he knew within the picture lay the answer to Sakura's latent destruction, but how?

He wasn't paying attention and looked up at the last minute to see Sakura standing in front of his door.

"Sakura?" Her eyes looked puffy and red and pained. She wouldn't meet his own dark eyes.

She didn't say anything, so he unlocked the door and let her inside before him. She stood by the door awkwardly, looking at the ground. "You may sit down, if you'd like." He broke the silence. Sakura shrugged, but saw a sketchbook lying on the table and picked it up, flicking through the pages. Sai watched over her shoulder. She stopped at a picture of an old woman sitting on a bench near a pond; she was feeding the birds and looked like a great buddha seated there in all her flabby glory. Sakura traced her fingers over the woman's profile.

"You catch so much about people in your pictures. Yet you can't identify emotions." She murmured, turning the page to see a quick sketch of Naruto. It had been done during a meeting with the Hokage. He was in the middle of protesting something, clearly. Sakura felt her lips twitch, threatening to smile. It looked exactly like him.

"Well, you have a similar issue." Sai said, putting away his pack. Sakura sat down at the table, but looked up at this comment.

"Excuse me?"

"You know what brings you pain, yet you don't forget it. The Hokage, as well as Naruto and Kakashi, value you for your intelligence, yet you ignore what you know."

Sakura didn't answer, but Sai knew she had heard it. She continued looking at the pages, but froze when she turned to one page in particular. She looked up at Sai, her eyes searching his desperately.

"...Why?" She whispered. Sai looked down. It was the picture of her and Sasuke.

"I wanted to try to understand you better. Since you said I couldn't."

Sakura looked down at the picture again. Tears dropped onto the page, making the ink bleed. Sai sat down across from her. She put her head in her hands, lips quivering slightly. Sai reached across the table, trying to copy Sasuke's move again. His hands gently touched her delicate, trembling wrist. She peered at him through her fingers. Tears splashed onto the page and table.

"I thought I'd given him a reason. To stay." Her voice shook. "But he left anyway. I'd tried so hard."

"Why do you keep that picture?"

"Proof. I thought then, when he touched me like that when Ino was taking our picture, that I'd succeeded. I felt like I'd gotten an A plus on a homework assignment. And then..."

She broke down into sobs. Sai moved his chair around the table, to sit next to her. He moved her hair away from her face, and gently guided her to face him.

"Maybe you should forget about what you thought you knew." He said, brushing her hair away some more and admiring her eyes. Although they were full of pain, they looked alive again. Like in the pictures of her as a young girl.

Their lips met briefly, although for all the world Sai couldn't understand why he had wanted to do that, or why he wanted to now. It was like sketching the old woman at the pond. It felt like the right and obvious thing to do, though he didn't know why. Maybe knowing wasn't all that important.

-Owari-