Disclaimer: No Naruto for me. Which may or may not be a good thing... And also no song lyrics. Last time I checked, I didn't belong to the band Staind. Which is definitely a good thing. Hee.

A/N: First Naruto fic--yay! SasuSaku angst--yay! OOC-ness--um, what the hell. It couldn't really be helped, and the title IS "Everything CHANGES", after all. That being said, don't be all "rah they are OOC" on me because, hello, I know. Now that being said, please read, enjoy the angsty irony, and review!!

A/N the second: Oh, and I wouldn't exactly classify this as a songfic. The song inspired SasuSaku (all Staind's songs inspire SasuSaku...), and the lyrics don't match up to specific points in the story or anything. They're pretty much evenly spaced. So, yeah. Remember to be a good reader and review. And now this will be continuing. So yay!!

Everything Changes

If you just walked away,
What could I really say?
Would it matter anyway?
Would it change how you feel?

Sasuke left the Uchiha compound in the early hours of the morning, his tread silent and unhurried as he made his way down the still-quiet streets of Konoha. Given his recent "return"—as a captured missing-nin—he supposed that he should consider himself lucky not to be escorted everywhere by a pair of ANBU. He did believe that he scraped by on the skin of his teeth; the village elders had been all for permanent civilian status, if not swift execution. Only the Godaime Hokage's intervention had spared him such a fate and allowed him a year-long probation before re-entering the ranks of the Leaf nin, even if he would enter as a mere genin. He was alive, and he would ascend to jounin with ease.

A slight frown creased his smooth, aristocratic features as he headed towards the old Team Seven's training grounds. He didn't know why he wanted to go there. Perhaps for the nostalgia of his childhood genin days, perhaps for some familiar surroundings that didn't bleed horrible memories like the Uchiha estate even after Itachi was dead and gone.

Either way, the former avenger had not expected his place of solitude to be occupied. In retrospect, he would reason that he should have expected them to be there. He paused warily on the outskirts of the grounds, half-hidden behind a tree, and simply watched his old teammates.

Naruto was dressed in his usual obnoxiously orange pants and a black tank top; Sakura wore her familiar red shirt with its Haruno circle and her tan skirt. Both had armbands secured about their left shoulders, covering their telltale ANBU tattoos. Their presence in the organization was top secret, as was all the other members' identities. It had certainly taken Sasuke by surprise, though he had hidden it well. His gaze unfocused momentarily, staring somewhere beyond where Sakura practiced agility, and recalled the day of his capture.

I am the mess you chose,
The closet you cannot close,
The devil in you, I suppose,
'Cause the wounds never heal.

Following the death of his elder brother, Sasuke had returned to the forests of the Fire Country, scoping out the Hidden Village in the Leaves. It was nearly seven years to the day since he had left to accept Orochimaru's tutelage, and while the snake sannin had been killed long ago, the last Uchiha had remained a missing-nin to hunt down Itachi. But when his longest mission had been completed, he felt no qualms about returning to his childhood home.

He had been in the trees and musing over various ways to enter the walled village when he had sensed the presence of others approaching him. He had activated his Sharingan, not intending to fight the approaching nin but prepared to defend himself if they attacked first. When the two ANBU members appeared out of thin air on nearby branches, he had recognized them immediately, even with their secretive masks. No one else in the whole of Konoha had blond spikes or pink locks like that.

Sasuke slid back to the present, his ebony eyes narrowing slightly as he studied the kunoichi. Naruto threw dozens and dozens of shuriken and kunai at her—naturally aided by several kage bunshin—and she ducked and dodged and left replacement logs that revealed themselves with small puffs of smoke. His eyebrows lifted in some admiration for her skill; he had witnessed her progression as a fighter, but she displayed no new talent in this exercise.

Still, he admitted, she had grown considerably from that weak and teary-eyed fan girl.

He picked idly at the bark of the tree, recalling that she had been present at his trial—and he had since wondered if she had anything to do with his sentence, if she had somehow persuaded her master. And while Naruto had relaxed into his usual niche and simultaneously filled the role of Sasuke's rival and best friend (and therefore crowed victoriously and jumped up and down upon hearing Sasuke's relatively lenient punishment), Sakura had not been fangirly. She hadn't been anything, really. He could picture the look of relief on her face at his trial, but it hadn't been the overwhelming relief of a lover.

It had been…restrained, somehow. As if she were no longer willing to let her emotions concerning him show on the surface.

But everything changes if I could
Turn back the years, if you could
Learn to forgive me, then I could
Learn to feel.

He shook his head slightly, not wanting to dwell on it—even though the thoughts always haunted him, his new ghosts. How could it be that when he had finally returned, prepared to treat her and even love her like she had always deserved, she had decided to have nothing more to do with him?

At that moment, Naruto's gaze slid aside idly and locked on Sasuke's. The blond ninja startled and let fly the kunai in his hand as the words exploded from his mouth.

"Sasuke-teme! What're you doing, lurking over there?"

Sakura jerked her head in the Uchiha's direction as she heard his name spilled from her friend's lips, and the kunai rammed into her shoulder.

Sasuke was forgotten as Naruto's clones disappeared with several pops and he leapt to her side. "Shit, Sakura-chan, I'm sorry! Are you—"

"I'll be fine." She spared him a reassuring smile as she tugged the weapon from her flesh, the blood soaking her shirt. Her other hand quickly covered the wound, and the soft green glow indicated she was healing herself.

Sasuke approached with measured steps, feeling conflicted. Should he be glad that he was still able to distract her so absolutely, guilty that he had inadvertently injured her, or scornful that she couldn't defend herself from everything, including distractions of this nature? He settled for something between gladness and guilt; he didn't find it so easy to insult her anymore. In fact, he found it incredibly difficult. Somewhere between twelve and nineteen, she had managed to get under his skin, and he couldn't exactly say that he minded.

Sometimes the things I say
In moments of disarray,
Succumbing to the games we play
To make sure that it's real.

Confident in Sakura's health, Naruto returned his attention to the long-lost member of Team Seven. "You didn't answer my question, teme. Why're you lurking?"

"I wasn't lurking, dobe," Sasuke replied smoothly. "I was taking a walk and I saw you guys."

Naruto remained obstinate; at least that hadn't changed. "Pssh. You were lurking."

The last Uchiha merely smirked and his gaze flickered over to Sakura, who was staring somewhere to his left as if she couldn't bear to look at him directly. "You alright, then?"

She blinked, viridian irises flashing to meet his black, but then her gaze fell away again. "I said I'd be fine, and I am." She faced Naruto, and a great deal of tension fled her face. "I think that's enough training for today. I'll clean up here and meet you at Ichiraku."

Naruto practically glowed, and he crushed the kunoichi in a hug before racing off. "Thanks, Sakura-chan, you're the best ever! I'll even pay!"

Sasuke cocked an eyebrow at the sight of her calmly accepting an embrace from the blond shinobi. When had she started letting him openly display his affections? A slight chill entered the warm breeze. Was it possible that she had given up on him and fallen for Naruto instead? His ego insisted that such a swap was hardly fair for her, but still…

Sakura laughed lightly and shook her head as she turned to retrieve the weapons. "I'd better get my wallet; he's always broke."

"Even on an ANBU salary?" Sasuke asked, impressed. What did that idiot spend it on?

She simply nodded and wandered about the training grounds, stooping often to lift kunai and shuriken from the ground and tugging them from tree trunks.

Sasuke watched her for a long moment, and he began collecting the weapons, matching her silence with his own. He had invented silence, after all. After a few minutes, all had been retrieved, and he handed her the ones he had found.

She murmured her thanks but then walked away.

But everything changes if I could
Turn back the years, if you could
Learn to forgive me, then I could
Learn to feel.

He watched for an even longer moment, his mind churning. What could he say to her? She wasn't acting at all like the Sakura he was used to, and that seemed a good enough place to start.

"What is with you?" he called after her.

She stopped, the weapons pouch swinging in her hand, but she did not face him. "Meaning what, exactly?"

He slowly, even cautiously strode toward her and halted when he was still a few paces behind her. "This, Sakura. You aren't looking at me. You're hardly talking to me. You're running away like I have the plague."

He heard her sigh, saw her shoulders slump a shade. "What do you want me to say, Sasuke?"

She had used his name several times since his return, and each time the lack of the –kun gave him a little pang. He swallowed and tried not to remember the last time he had stood behind her, seven years ago.

"The truth," he answered, at once both honest and obvious.

Another sigh, but this time she faced him, even if her eyes were trained on his feet. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe it's just been too long? That maybe even I wouldn't wait this long?"

He frowned with his whole expression. Was she suggesting that she had gotten over him? That she had moved on? He couldn't quite comprehend that. This was Sakura, after all—she was supposed to always love, always support him, always unconditionally. "You're…you don't…" he tripped over the questions, unable to voice them coherently. He settled for, "But I'm back."

Her eyelids slid down, and he saw a single tear leak free and trail down her cheek. She didn't seem aware of its presence. "Yes, you're back. Did you think that would magically make everything disappear? That you could just waltz back in here like you'd never left and we'd welcome you with open arms?" She finally raised her gaze, and he was stunned to see scorn glistening in her eyes, scorn at him. "Wake up, Sasuke."

With those few choice words, she spun on heel and started off again.

When it's just me and you,
Who knows what we could do,
If we can just make it through
The toughest part of the day.

Too shocked to move, he simply sputtered, "But you intervened with Tsunade-sama on my behalf!"

It was a gamble—he had never known for sure—but it worked. She stopped and turned halfway, and while she was fairly far from him, he could still read her expression well enough. The tears still glittered in her eyes, tears he could tell she was fighting.

"And?" she finally asked, sounding tired.

"And so you must still love me," he concluded, feeling rather proud of his reasoning. He had her there—she surely wouldn't deny that.

She cocked her head to the side, stray pink hairs sliding across her face. "How do you know that I just didn't want you dead? You may be a selfish bastard, Sasuke, but you don't deserve to die."

Was she playing mind games with him, or was that how she really felt? His face tightened, eyebrows ramming together. He may have treated her poorly, but he had grown to rely on the fact that she would always love him. It had been a given, much like the fact that he would kill Itachi one day. She couldn't take that away from him, not when he had almost nothing else left.

"You didn't give me a straight answer," he said, the words forced from his thickening throat.

"You left, Sasuke," she spat, the words biting. "You left the village and your friends and you left me. After all I had promised to do for you, you had the gall to knock me out and leave me on a bench. After I told you that I loved you more than anything, you told me I was annoying. Tell me, Sasuke-kun, would you still love yourself if you were me?"

He nearly staggered, feeling as if one of Naruto's Rasengans had just slammed into his stomach. He had never before heard her sound so bitter, especially not at him. Clawing for his composure, he managed to say, "I'm…sorry."

She exhaled sharply through her nose. "So am I." And then she was walking away once more.

But everything changes if I could
Turn back the years, if you could
Learn to forgive me, then I could
Learn how to feel, then we could
Stay here together, and we could
Conquer the world if we could
Say that "forever" is more than just a word.

"Sakura, no!" Sasuke yelled, suddenly more desperate than he had ever been in his life. She couldn't leave, not now, not when he finally returned her feelings. "I love you!"

If he had been calm and rational, he would have realized the awful irony.

And again, she stopped and looked over her shoulder at him. The tear tracks were now clear on her cheeks, and he could feel moisture searing his own eyes. "You know what, Sasuke?"

He waited, not daring to breathe.

She faintly smirked; every mocking syllable dripped pained sarcasm. "You're annoying."

No, now Naruto's Rasengan plowed into his stomach; his knees actually shook, and he had trouble drawing in air. He couldn't keep standing, and he slumped onto a nearby bench, his hands gripping the stone edge until his knuckles went white. Squeezing his eyes shut, he fought for his control, his limbs trembling and the salty tears staining his pale cheeks.

When he finally opened his eyes, he saw that she was still standing there, gazing at him through her watery veil. This was killing her—he could tell that it was killing her. Why was she doing this? Did she want him to feel exactly as she had, as hopeless and sick? No, she wouldn't stoop to that level of revenge, she wouldn't, this was Sakura

His voice shook; no amount of force could keep it steady. "Sakura…you…you can't mean that you don't…you have to…you have to still love me. You have to…"

She simply kept looking at him.

"I'm sorry, alright? I'm sorry for back then, for everything, for throwing it all in your face. I shouldn't have, and I'm sorry. Sakura…please…" He was practically begging; his pride wanted to silence him, but his long-dead heart wouldn't quiet now.

There was a flicker of something in her viridian eyes.

"Sakura…" he breathed.

"I don't want to love you," she muttered, almost childlike.

A sliver of hope. "But you do," he insisted, wanting it confirmed.

After what seemed like an eternity, she gave a slow nod, and he felt his heart leap in his chest before she reiterated, "But I don't want to." She turned and continued on her way, one hand rising to her face to wipe her cheeks clean.


But she left him on the bench with barely a spark of hope remaining and not even a thank you.

And he realized he deserved no better.

If you just walked away,
What could I really say?
It wouldn't matter anyway.
It wouldn't change how you feel.