A/N: This was originally going to be a oneshot, but I saw there was potential for a full-fledged story. Like I've said many times before, I really can't get enough of this pairing!
It is set five years after Sasuke left Konoha. I am writing as though most of the events in Shippuden did not happen, if any. I actually haven't watched any of Shippuden so I am not going to write about something I don't really know about. I might refer to some events that happened around that time, I don't know, but nothing to do with Sasuke actions.
Don't stray, don't ever go away
I should be much to smart for this
You know it gets the better of me
Sometimes, when you and I collide
I fall into an ocean of you, pull me out in time
Don't let me drown, let me down
I say it's all because of you
And here I go, losing my control
I'm practicing your name so I can say it to your face
It doesn't seem right to look you in the eye
Let all the things you mean to me
Come tumbling out my mouth
Indeed it's time to tell you why
I say it's infinitely true
Say you'll stay, don't come and go
Like you do
Sway my way, yeah I need to know
All about you
And there's no cure, there's no way to be sure
Why everything's turned inside out
Instilling so much doubt
It makes me so tired - I feel so uninspired
My head is battling with my heart
My logic has been torn apart
And now it all turns sour
Come sweeten every afternoon
Say you'll stay, don't come and go
Like you do
Sway my way, yeah I need to know
All about you
It's all because of you
It's all because of you
It's all because of you
- "Sway", Bic Runga
So long she had thought about him. So long had she wondered, wanted, wished. So long she had told herself she'd never see him again. So long she had told herself he was gone forever.
So long his face had haunted her memories. So long his words had haunted her dreams. So long his absence had grated on her existence. So long she had tried to ignore that absence of him in her life.
Too damn long.
Five years was a long time, wasn't it? A long enough time to change, to grow up, to become strong. Long enough to get over him.
But was she over him? Was she really? She'd told herself time and time again that she'd moved on, but the fact that she had to continually tell herself that proved the opposite, didn't it.
She thought as long as she went about business as usual it wouldn't matter. She'd never see him again, right?
And yet here he was, standing before her now. The gentle breeze moved through his raven locks, tousling his clothes. Two sleek katana were in his hands, each coated in liquid crimson. His eyes swirled red - death for those who dared oppose him. His chest moved up and down. He was breathing. He was alive. He was there.
"Sasuke…" she finally found her voice, though it was only a mere ghost of a whisper. Could he even hear her?
A smirk grace features far too close to perfection, as they'd always been. "Haruno."
Pain stabbed at her chest before she could remind herself that he didn't matter, that what he said didn't matter. Haruno. So he did not want to recognize that they'd once been on closer terms than a mere distant surname.
Still, that did not lessen the aching discomfort of his deliberate distance.
"Did you…kill that man?" Again with the whisper. Why could she not speak properly? She had been waiting for this moment for five years, whether she consciously acknowledged it or not. She had been waiting for the chance to see him again and prove to him that she could be strong too. But now she could barely speak. This was all turning out wrong.
Sasuke did not seem at all affected by the sight of her after so many years. It was as though he wasn't really there, like he was detached from his own body. But that didn't make sense. Nothing made sense.
Sakura silently watched as Sasuke walked over to the doorpost and wiped his each of his katana against it, cleansing them of the blood that stained them. The metal screeched against the wood, causing Sakura to wince at the sound. It was like scratching nails on a blackboard.
"Why?" Why had Sasuke killed him? And why could she still not speak? Who knew when she'd have the chance to see him again, if ever?
Sasuke sheathed his katana in one fluid motion and turned to her. His eyes were black. "I was sent to kill him just as you were sent to heal him."
How had he known she was there to heal him? Did it really matter?
"Orochimaru?" It was a guess. She didn't even know if he was still with Orochimaru at all. She didn't know if his body had been taken over by the snake. She didn't know if he'd killed Itachi. She didn't know anything about him at all.
The Sasuke that stood before her was merely a shell of the one she'd known when she was twelve. His physical features, though matured, were the only thing she could recognize. His voice was deeper, his manner colder, his aura darker.
Sakura made out another smirk in the intruding moonlight. "My target had become a thorn in Orochimaru's side, one I was sent to eliminate."
Sakura swallowed her apprehension and pressed on, desperate not to waste this moment regardless of how terrified she was. She was never supposed to be afraid of this man. This was wrong. "What is happening with you, Sasuke?" Finally she did not whisper. Her confidence grew with the volume of her voice. "Are you still with Orochimaru? Have you killed Itachi? Why haven't you come back to us?" Her voice nearly broke as she spoke the last sentence and she cursed her weakness for asking that needy question at all, but she refused to break down in front of him. She was a strong kunoichi now. She was no longer the weakling he'd once known. He wasn't the only one who had changed.
Sasuke disappeared before her eyes only to reappear behind her, standing far too close for her to be at ease. How fast he moves now. Her spine straightened, tensed, ready for action, for defence. This Sasuke, this one she did not know, could hurt her, could attack. This was so wrong.
"Why should I tell you anything?" he whispered in her ear with menace. "You will only return to Konoha and tell Naruto of my words." He chuckled softly. She could not move. "That is if I decide to let you live."
Sakura swirled around, kunai out, but Sasuke was gone. She twirled around again to see him leaning casually against the wall on the opposite side of the room.
"Too slow," he taunted softly, attempting to bait her into action, into a mistake, into something.
Sakura shook her head. He would never get it, would he? The bond that threaded Team 7 together would never be broken regardless of the rift between them. "I don't want to hurt you, Sasuke."
The smirk disappeared off Sasuke's handsome face and his gaze was cold once more. "Why not?" It was more of an order than a question. "After walking out on you, after you confessed your undying love and I left you unconscious on stone bench. Do you not want to hurt me as I have hurt you, Sakura?"
Sakura flinched at the sound of her name on his lips. Even after so many years it did not sound any different to her. Unwarranted memories came back to her. Memories of their Team 7 days. Good memories.
But that he had even mentioned that incident – one that was branded so permanently into her being - showed her that his memories of her, of them, were not buried as deep as he'd like her to think.
She smiled, taking Sasuke by surprise. He was expecting her to loath him, she figured. He was expecting her to want revenge. But she didn't. She was different than him. She had been raised in love and stability. All Sasuke understood was revenge. It was the legacy left to him by the only blood family he'd ever known. It drove him. It was his life. It was not hers. And she could not find it in herself to hate him. That would make things too easy - for him. He knew how to deal with hate. Did he know how to deal with love?
She laughed softly. "Will you never understand, Sasuke? Life is not all about revenge and hate and darkness and if you believe it is, then what is separating you from him, hm? What is separating you from Itachi?"
Before she could blink Sasuke had slammed her up against a wall with his hand around her throat, a katana positioned dangerously close to her stomach. His eyes were swirling red with uninhibited rage.
She should have been scared. She should have been terrified. But all she felt was hope. She'd prefer his anger over his disinterest any day.
"Do not ever compare me to him," he ground out through clenched teeth. The katana pinched the tender skin of her stomach.
Sakura knew she should feel anger, fear, or sadness, but all she could find was pity. "I wouldn't if you weren't like him. You have become just what he wanted you to become. How does it feel to be bested by him once again, Sasuke?"
She knew her words were dangerous, but if she did not say them, who would? Was there anyone else who cared enough?
His hand tightened around her throat, slowly cutting off her air supply. The katana pierced her stomach, just beneath the first layer of skin. She barely felt the sting over the pressure in her chest. That pain was much worse.
"You know not what you say."
Sakura gasped for air. "Oh, but I do. I know too well." She raised her eyes to his, forcing him to acknowledge her words, her feelings. "I know you, Sasuke. You cannot hide from me."
Sasuke threw her over the other side of the room, causing the wall she crashed into to crack under the sheer force of it. Her head swam.
He stood over her, but his presence was different. Controlled.
Sakura leaned her weight against the damaged wall as she attempted to stand up and face Sasuke, eye to eye. She would show him she was not a weakling anymore. "We won't give up on you, Sasuke."
There had been a time when she had not wanted to think about him anymore. There had been a time when she had not wanted to hear his name. But now that she'd seen him she could not find anger or hatred. She wanted to be angry, but as she faced those obsidian eyes she saw the hidden pain in them and found she couldn't. Would she have done things differently were she in his position? Was what he'd done really so unusual? Did it even matter?
She wanted to prove to him more than ever that unconditional love still existed. She did not know if she still loved him like she used to – a love full of infatuation and fantasy - but she did know she at least loved him like a friend, like family, and that love would never fade no matter how horribly he treated her.
"You should. I am not coming back." His voice was cold, icy. Emotionless. It broke her heart.
But his words meant as a deterrent only strengthened her resolve. "Naruto and I will look for you and we won't stop until you come back, whether you want to or not."
"Big words. I doubt you could follow through." His tone was condescending and it irked her. He obviously didn't think much of her abilities. Not that she could really blame him. The last time he'd seen her she'd been pathetic.
But she would not let him win. "But we would try. Love does not give up."
Sakura's heartbeat quickened as Sasuke approached her. When he was about one foot away from her he leaned in, placing a hand on either side of her head, until his lips were at her ear. His proximity unsettled her and her breath started exiting her lips more quickly than she would've liked him to see.
"And do you still love me, Sakura?"
Sakura shut her eyes briefly and focused on the matter at hand rather than his proximity. She knew he was just trying to distract her. "I said I would love you always and I meant it, though I think we're thinking of different sorts of love at the moment."
He was not fazed. Her breath hitched as one of his hands trained down her arm. Sakura squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her teeth as the feather-light touched caused rivets of heat to course through her body.
So much for being over him…
Sasuke had always had this affect on her, even when they were twelve. But now she was seventeen and both their bodies had matured in more ways that one.
"Is that so?"
He's doing it on purpose; he's doing it on purpose. Don't let him win! She repeated the mantra religiously, hoping it would have some effect.
His lips briefly touched her ear, causing a shock wave to travel down her spine, before he pushed himself back.
It seemed that though she may be over Sasuke, her body wasn't.
She looked at him levelly, giving nothing away in her gaze. She'd long learned to control her emotions when she needed to. "So are you going to let me live, Sasuke?" She honestly did not know what he was going to do. She was placing her life in his hands…and she was curious to see what he'd do with it.
Sasuke stared at her for a few seconds before unsheathing a katana and holding it up to her throat.
"Tell me, should I?"
For some strange reason Sakura could not fear him, even though she could feel the cold metal of the katana pressed against her jugular and knew without a doubt that he was fully capable of slicing it without so much as a second thought. "I do not know. It is up to you…Sasuke…" she whispered his name, unleashing every emotion she had been controlling. In that one word she put everything. And by the flicker in his eyes she knew that he knew she'd been sincere in her feelings.
After a few intense seconds filled with uncertainty and acceptance, Sakura felt the cold steel being removed from her neck. Her chest flooded with warmth. He hadn't killed her. That was something.
"Are you sure? If you let me go I'll just return to Naruto and we'll search for you and bring you back."
Sasuke sheathed his katana once again and regarded her coolly. "If you can find me," he challenged coldly before his hand came down on her neck and her vision turned into darkness.
Sasuke stared down at Sakura's motionless body and wondered what he was supposed to feel upon seeing her again. She had changed. He could tell by the way she spoke to him. She was confident and she was controlled. She only allowed emotions to show when she wanted them to. That was…different. The Sakura he'd once known was so overtly emotional as to be a severe annoyance
And he wouldn't even get started on her obvious physical changes as her body had matured into adulthood.
But it didn't matter. He had randomly wondered now and then over the years of separation how he'd react if he ever saw any of his former team mates again, and now that question had been answered.
He felt nothing.