I'm not dead, really! (Okay, maybe I have been dead. But just a little.) But I apologize for not posting anything in months. School has been overwhelming, to say the least. Sadly, I anticipate that there will not be a break in this trend, but I will attempt to squeeze in the time to write something here and there. I have many ideas for upcoming fics, but no time. So if anyone happens to have a time-machine or time-turner I could borrow/have, let me know...

Thank you to everyone who reviewed A Serving of Understanding!

This oneshot is dedicated to Kaikouken, for bestowing upon me the honor of having a chapter of her incredible story Fake (if you've been under a rock and haven't read it, I command you to go read it now) dedicated to me, and for being a dear and supportive friend. Thank you, Kai-love!

Warnings: Swearing (only one instance). Intentional abuse of parentheses and italics. Suggested SasuNaru. Minor implied LeeSaku. Sakura-centric. (If you are looking for a Sakura bashing fic, I'm afraid you will be sorely disappointed.)

Disclaimer: Alas, I don't own Naruto… though I wish I did.

Notes: This popped into my head and essentially wrote itself. I've been wanting to write from Sakura's point of view for a long time, and this little oneshot is what came from it. This takes place a few years or so after Sasuke has returned to Konoha (and presumably has been allowed back).



The sky over Konoha was cloudless, leaving its inhabitants awash in sunlight as they strolled through the streets. It was an ordinary day—or it would have been, in any other time or place.

Sakura couldn't bring herself to believe in ordinary days anymore. (It hurt to admit that days like this seemed extraordinary due to the lack of bloodshed and utter chaos.)

As she walked, she ran a hand through the bag of assorted herbs and medicinal supplies she'd purchased (Inner Sakura Shannaro!'d victoriously at the fact that no shopkeeper dared overcharge her anymore, lest they risk having their noses pushed out through the backs of their skulls) that day, making sure she'd collected everything on her shopping list.

Looking up, Sakura suddenly found a giant bouquet of sunflowers walking straight at her. As she sidestepped the imminent collision, she caught sight of a pale blonde ponytail bobbing in the air.

The "Watch where you're going, Pig!" came out mechanically. Ino's face emerged apologetically from behind the curtain of radiant yellow, offering back a customary "Shut up, Forehead!", but both insults lacked the venom they once held. The two couldn't help but exchange grins at the routine of it all.

Sakura's gaze drifted to the massive bundle that Ino barely managed to hold together. "Wow, there are so many of them!"

"Yeah, the sunflowers are doing really well this year. I don't think we've ever had this many."

Sakura couldn't help but think that it wouldn't hurt Konoha to have something so bright and cheerful in overabundance for a change.

The flowers reminded her of Naruto in more ways than one.

Balancing the bundle in the crook of one arm, Ino disentangled one flower from the pile of stems and held it out to her pink-haired friend. "Come on, just take it," Ino interjected just as Sakura opened her mouth to protest or attempt to pay for it.

Sakura shifted her bag to her hip and accepted with a smile. It wasn't as if she had any need for it (the huge bouquet Lee had sent last week for their anniversary seemed to take up her entire apartment at the moment)—but there was a simple, unparalleled sense of joy that came from not needing.

Long after she and Ino parted, she twirled it in her fingers, feeling the fuzz of its long stem and reveling in holding onto something so beautiful and soft. The sensation of anything other than the cold, cold metal of kunai and medical tools seemed immeasurably precious.

She decided to take the long way home—because it was a gorgeous day and at this fleeting moment in time she was young and strong and alive, and there was no reason not to.Her feet carried her away from the crowds and on paths she'd traveled innumerable times, until she found herself alone in the quiet.

"—fucking bastard!"

Well, so much for that.

She could feel the headache approaching already; much as she cared for him, Naruto's voice acted like a sledgehammer to the paper-thin veneer of her patience.

By the sound of it, they were close (though it was amazing how far Naruto's voice could carry). If she strained her ears, she could have heard Sasuke's haughty monosyllabic retort, but she didn't bother. She had seen this far too many times; the two of them, sweat-soaked from whatever spar-turned-all-out-brawl they'd just had, faces pulled taut in any variation of sneers and scowls and glares.

They had been to the ends of the world and back, but somehow they always ended up meters from the training ground where their lives were first irreversibly intertwined.

She didn't need to see them to know that they stood only an arm's length or so apart, shaking with rage and frustration and some twisted sense of exhilaration. With every heated word they would unconsciously creep closer together, as if attempting to assimilate to the other's personal space.

And Naruto would be standing there, eyes blazing blue-red and wondering why the hell he had to (wanted to) bring this bastard back. And Sasuke would be standing there, eyes alight with something more than just whirling black on red and wondering why he didn't (couldn't) remove this imbecilic thorn in his side when he had the chance.

And standing there, they didn't have a valley to separate them, nor need crystalline ice mirrors to reflect what lay hidden and yet to emerge.

She didn't bother to do damage control and step in before they killed each other once and for all. Soon they would feel the breaths carrying those words fanning across their faces, and their proximity would dawn on them. They'd spring apart as if burned, dismissing the heat in their skin as residue from sparring and fighting and hating.

Her emerald eyes had attentively caught every step of their expertly-choreographed dance. Resigned to the fact that they were quite possibly the two biggest morons (and, with a grimace, her morons) ever to grace the earth, she left them to a repeat performance of their well-rehearsed script and continued on. She came upon the bridge where Team 7 had met back in a time that now seemed like a distant fantasy. Sakura set her bag down and leant on the railing like she hadn't done since she was twelve, still twirling the sunflower in her fingers and watching the stream below.

She was reminded of her childhood, of days when the remaining hours after kunoichi class stretched out like a lifetime filled with possibility. On one such day she had come across Ino seated in a sunny field, brow furrowed in a comical expression of utmost concentration. Her small fingers were curled around the stem of a flower—a daisy, so utterly ordinary and barely more than a weed in comparison to the exotic blossoms that filled her parents' flower shop.

Petal by petal, the poor flower was stripped bare; the nearly inaudible cadence of "Sasuke loves me," pluck, "he loves me not," released on held breaths.

At the time Sakura had thought it so silly. But as she grew older and her eyes were clouded with ideals stolen from romance novels and overdone love stories, she—and every other girl, for that matter—joined in that infernal chorus.

Yet no matter how many times the flowers promised that he loved them,

He loved them not, not, not.

And now Sakura could only chuckle because, in the end, she loved him not.

It was funny how life came full circle sometimes.

She trailed her fingertips over the points of the yellow petals—a delicate reminder of how hardened she and everyone she knew had become. (And oh, if only they all could be so resilient as to bloom year after year…)

Before she knew it, yellow petals were trickling down one by one like golden rain, gliding and twirling and somersaulting through the air, all to gather on the water.

He loves him…


He loves him not.


He loves him…

She followed the curve of the sunflower's center—another full circle—but her fingers stilled, even though nearly half of the petals remained.

Then, smiling, she let the sunflower slip through her fingers. It tumbled down, down, down, shattering the smooth surface of the stream. Sakura picked up her bag and continued on home as the ripples caused the scattered petals to disperse and slowly drift away.

She didn't need a flower to tell her that despite all the nots along the way,

He loved him, he loved him, he loved him.

Her only hope was that the sunflowers would continue to bloom this abundantly in the years to come.

A/N: Yes, it's shameless fluff. (And yes, the sunflower thing has been done before. Forgive me, but no other flower seemed to fit.)

Reviews are love!