These Words

You'rewatching me, waiting for a response you fear to hear me give. You'retrying to be brave, but I can see your trembling as if it were tremors in the earth around us. You think I don't notice you, but I've always noticed. And I know that however this ends you will be hurt, and though it may not seem that way, this knowledge is far from pleasant to me. For the first time on my journey I feel something akin to true regret. Because I cannot allow your words to sway me, no matter how earnest they might be.

Onyx orbs meet watery emerald and I know that we are both resolved, though in different ways. And though I have been called callous and cold, for the first time I feel it. Itachi did not slay me, but in this moment I know, truly know, how much of me died that day.

And yet I cannot change what I am.

Looking in your eyes I almost wish it could have been different, but it can't be. I can't stay; I can't give you what you want. You should know that by now. You're always looking too deeply, so why can't you see this? Why does this alone elude you? Why, when it matters most, do you not understand? It isn't that I don'tlove you, it's that I can't. Perhaps if things were different, if I were different I could return your feelings. But they are not, I am not, and so I cannot. There is no room in my life, in my heart, for anything but dark hatred and vengeance. I am a shell, empty but for this dark and desperate hungry need. I am an instrument of fate, torn and tattered, cold and bloody. I cannot taint you with my stains. I cannot let you try to heal me, to free me. I cannot allow my purpose to dissolve. This is my resolve. I cannot. I will not.

And all that I can do for you is this: to save you from myself.

I cannot return your affections.

But I am grateful. Please know that. I will leave you with this, for I know I must leave you with something, because I don't want you to break.

I know you don't know what I mean, but it is sincere, and you have to remember. All I can give to you, all you can hold of me is this… to remember this moment, these words.

Thank you…

I am grateful.

That is all I can give you right now, all I have, my gratitude.

My gratitude, and whatever else I can make those two words convey. Gratitude is the thing those words define, but at this moment they mean a myriad more.

Can you hear that in my tone? Can you see that in my gaze? Or have I schooled them to expressionless facades for so long that even you, who have learned Kakashi's lessons best, cannot see beneath this underneath?

I need you to see, for there is nothing more that I can say. I cannot express all these thoughts and emotions swirling through me without drawing you closer, hurting you more deeply, and that I will not allow. And so I must let these inadequate words suffice.

Thank you.

You have never been as other girls. You have loved me, truly and wholeheartedly, even when faced with my distain. You have loved me, completely and unashamedly, even when confronted with my flaws. You have loved me through trials, and you have loved me in my weakness and confusion. You have loved me always, even when I caused you pain. And I have always known that your love, unlike theirs, is no silly crush; your love is true.

These words are my acknowledgement.

You have always given of yourself and you have never asked for anything from me in return. You have given your love freely and without condition, with no expectation of reciprocation. You have given without hesitation, without doubts, without fear of consequences, even when I pushed you away. You have offered your comfort and support even when I pretended not to need it. I can see your love, offered without reservation, in your eyes even through the pain caused by my silence now which you will no doubt interpret as rejection.

These words are my acceptance.

You have loved me so obviously and for so long that it would have been easy to take that love for granted. I know that they, the people we both now, all think I have taken it for granted, that you might think so as well.

These words are my assurance to you, my promise, that I never have.

I have hurt you and ignored you, mocked you and put you down, but it was not out of spite. I was trying to push you away for your sake as much as my own; I did not know that was impossible. Still I can not let you near, so I let you think you are nothing but an annoyance. My words have been cold and cruel and belittling, carefully scripted to keep you distant, to keep you from hoping. I know they have made you wither and lock a part of yourself away, but now I need you to know that I never meant them.

These words are my apology.

Sometimes I have looked in your sorrowful eyes and I have known that you think I hate you. I never have. In all the darkness in my heart and soul there is one spark of light, and that is where I keep you. This one small piece is all I have left, and one day it too will be gone. But as long as it is mine it is yours.

These words are my confession.

I know that you fear for me, that is why you offer to go with me. I know that you want to save me, and I know that I can't let you. The path will be dark and you are ill prepared. You do not know what you offer; you are too pure to comprehend my hate. I know that I must walk this way alone. But I also know that I can never completely turn my back on those who still care for me despite all I have done and all I will do. Whatever I may become I will not let the darkness forever engulf me.

These words are my oath.

These words are many things, my regret for leaving, my hope that I may someday return. They look to the past and to the future and I trust them to carry us both through this unwelcome present. These words are the bonds that hold between us that cannot be broken by time and distance, by the wear that already begins to mar my soul and the deterioration of my conscience that is sure to come. These words are the only comfort I can offer you, the only reasons I can give myself. I will not be swallowed in the tide that comes. I will not abandon myself to this madness forever. There will be a day when my quest is complete, when my purpose is fulfilled, and on that day I will repent and, in death or in life, will continue in darkness no more. I owe you that.

I will not wander in darkness forever. Believe that.

These words are my solemn vow.

And these words are my plea.

That you would understand, that you would remember…

I cannot put these things into words for fear that we would both shatter, that my purpose will falter, that your heart will be broken if it does not. I cannot tell you these things, but I need you to understand. That I cannot say them does not mean they are not real. That I am cold does not mean that I do not feel. You, who know me so well without knowing me at all, can you read them in my eyes? The words that cannot pass my lips? Please understand, and don't let go. Carve not the words on your heart, but rather all that lies beneath them.

Do not forget.

You have to remember…

I need you to remember.

When the stories of things I have done and the person I have become reach your ears and you fear that you only imagined any warmth, any good, you ever saw in me – remember.

In the darkness and agonizing silence of a sleepless night, when your insecurities surround you despite all your strength and they whisper that you were too weak, too insignificant to hold me – remember.

When we meet again and my eyes are blank and my heart seemingly dead, and there is no spark of warmth or even recognition, no acknowledgement of what you were to me, what you are – remember.

When we are facing one another, weapons drawn and eyes cold and you begin to doubt I ever held you in any regard – remember.

When your heart threatens to break and your soul seems to bleed and you want to surrender to the aching despair that creeps through you and seems to sink deep into your bones, and the knowledge of what is not threatens to consume the memory of what was and may one day be – remember.

When I can't anymore, because more than likely that day will come, and I am truly lost in my hate, you have to remember…

Because, though I could not return it, your love was not empty, not meaningless.


That your love meant something to me.

Thank you.

A/N: My first Naruto fiction, so obviously my first Saku/Sasu... Yes, I adore this pairing (though I prefer to read Kakashi/Sakura fanfiction). It WILL happen someday, it HASto... it is the only pariring I see in canon Naruto that might actually work out! (And I'm only acknowleging a bunch of one-sided relationships even existing. Naruto-> Sakura, Hinata-> Naruto, Lee-> Sakura, anything-female-that-breaths(but-especiaaly-Ino-and-Sakura) -> Sasuke. This is just my take on why Sasuke told Sakura thank you before he left. I wrote it the day after seeing the movie, where it occured to me that he lets her hold him when he's injured... now that's progress for Sasuke Sad, isn't it? Just because he doesn't show it, doesn't mean he doesn't feel it! Keeping people far away is a defense mechanism. And, he's probably trying to protect them too. he doesn't expect to live past killing Itachi...

Please review!!!