On One Great Love

"It's 'when you're with me, you're killing me. When you're not, I'm dying'. Sasuke and Sakura and one too many beers, but never enough words."

How you've both wound up at the same bar you'll never know, because you're still in Orochimaru's employ and she's still wearing the Konoha leaf proudly across her forehead. But at the same bar you are, and there isn't another for miles around, so you drop into a seat at the counter and try to ignore the person sitting next to you.

Neither one of you will speak until you've each drained your forth beer, and even then it's polite inquiries and oh-me-I'm-great-how-about-you's? Neither one of you is quite sure how to even broach the topic that's really at hand, the one that created such a large rift between you that you need electricity and miles and miles of phone lines to even begin to talk about it. But now you're each on your sixth beer and plowing ahead, far to inebriated to even think about stopping.

"You're an ass," It's probably the first honest thing she's said to you all night, and possibly the first honest thing she's ever said to you (except that one 'I-love-you' thing).

You're mildly taken aback but the alcohol absorbs most of the indignation, so you shrug and say, "You're a selfish bitch."

But instead of being insulted she cracks a smile and it's so infectious and full of life that you smile too, and it's such a foreign thing to you that you're having trouble remembering the motions. She sees your struggles and reaches over to help you, though she falls from her stool in the process and you fall from yours trying to help her.

It's only when your both a tangled heap on the floor that you both start to laugh, the sound rich and lively and everything that it shouldn't be. But you're both too drunk to concentrate on that so instead you reach up to trace her jaw like you always wanted to, and she reaches down to stroke your cheek like she always wanted to. It's a silent few moments until you notice something in her eyes and just can't let it go.

"What's he like?" You ask, words slurred a bit from the alcohol.

She furrows her brow in confusion and asks, "Who?"

"The boy you're in love with," You answer.

Her eyes light up and her smile is so wide that your worried it might split her face, so you reach up to try and stop it from doing so. The end result is that you end up pushing her cheeks together and she suddenly bears a startling resemblance to a goldfish. She bats your hand away, though her aim is off a bit and she merely waves her hand in your general direction.

But she continues to smile down at you, and you'd almost forgotten what you'd ask by the time she finally answers, "He's insecure. Has some confidence problems, you know? But underneath it all he's a real softy who would do anything for his friends. He loves real deep, but no one would know it 'cause he hides it so well. But if you look really hard, if you look so hard that you think you'll never be able to look at anything else again, you can see that he loves more deeply than most people would ever think possible. And I love him."

She states it like it's the simplest thing in the world, and you're surprised, because you're feeling rather jealous. You, even in your completely drunk state, know that under no circumstances can she still be in love with you. And looking up at her now, you grimace because you've just realized, after all these years, what a loss it is.

You're self-pitying musings are interrupted when she grins down at you and asks, "What's she like?"

It's your turn to stare up at her with brows furrowed as you ask, "Who?"

"The girl you're in love with," Sakura answers, shaking her head exasperatedly as if you should have known that all along.

You stare up at her because what-the-hell-is-she-thinking-you're-not-in-love, except that as you stare up at her you know you really are. You're in love with the girl who is sitting on your lap and have been since you were twelve years old, but you were always much too stubborn to admit that and who the hell needed love anyway? But you've just realized that you've been in love with this girl since maybe about forever, and you're not sure whether to be shocked or horrified or both. You settle on content, which seems like a pretty happy medium.

"She's brilliant. A genius, though I don't think anyone really considers her one. She's always smiling and lights up everything around her. Her smile is so infectious that seeing it makes even the most desolate person want to join in and crack a smile. She cares deeply about everyone around her, everyone feels safe and happy and loved when they're with her, even if they don't realize it. And…I love her."

The girl you just realized you're in love with nods above you, "She sounds great."

"Yeah," You agree, "So does the boy you're in love with."

"I'm glad you think so," Sakura smiles her approval, "You never did before."

You stare up at her in confusion and it's a definite few minutes before she catches on. Then she smacks your forehead lightly and puts her hands on her hips, staring down at you like you've just stolen the last cookie out of the cookie jar. You're a little shocked at her violent behavior, un-violent as it may be, so you merely stare.

"You're the boy I love, you moron!" She huffs and crosses her arms.

But your face lights up in another smile, and you don't even have to think about the motions this time. Instead, you reach up until you can grab her and pull her down so that you can kiss her. You kiss her until you're both gasping for air, but even then you really can't stop so both of you are trying to figure out how to kiss and breathe at the same time. It's a fascinating new skill and you spend a while perfecting it.

It's only when the bartender wearily orders you out of the bar that you finally stop, staring at each other with newfound understanding. You find yourselves outside and she knows that she should head back to Leaf and you know that you should help back to Sound, but it's hard to let go and it's a while before you can get up any motivation to.

But even as you both disappear towards your own respective villages, you're both content with your newly gained knowledge, and that's enough.

And it was hardly your last visit to that bar, anyway.