To my dear readers... please don't hurt me for being a sucky updater!! -cries- I always have difficulty finishing chapter stories.. will you forgive me if I start to write more one-shots instead? Well here's my latest... this was written for a friend, Joji-chan! I hope she enjoys it... I hope you enjoy it too!
Disclaimer-- I still don't own Naruto ggrr!
Merry Xmas all!
Sasuke sat down on the worn sofa with a sigh. It had been years since he'd left Konoha and another Christmas spent alone. He poured himself a steaming cup of green tea and sat down with his old photo album. Opening it up, he started from the very beginning…
It was a beautiful day in Konoha. Golden sunlight streamed from the clear blue sky onto the local park. A laughing Sakura and happy Sasuke stood together in a queue in front of a mobile ice cream stall. The warm late spring weather was a welcome reprieve from the long Konoha winter.
"What flavour of ice cream do you want Sakura?" the 8-year-old Sasuke asked, even though he already knew the answer. It was always the same.
"Oooh pink ice cream! I want that one!" the young Sakura laughed.
Sasuke relayed the ice cream orders to the stall vendor. The vendor gave back two cones, one with a single scoop of strawberry ice cream, another with a double scoop of chocolate and mango. "It's on the house Sasuke-kun," the vendor smiled.
"Thank you!" the two children cheered in unison, walking off to sit on a park bench.
"Young love, it's so cute!" the vendor wiped an imaginary tear away.
Suddenly a dog bolted out of nowhere, chasing another dog.
"Woah!!!" Sakura quickly stepped out of the way. She was safe, but her ice cream was not. There it lay by her foot, slowly melting in its sticky goodness. She looked desolately at the vacant cone, tears beginning to form.
Sasuke looked from his cone and then back to her's. With a sigh, he took her cone from her and tipped the chocolate ball of ice cream onto her's.
"Here you go Sakura," he said, handing it back to her. "Don't cry over something so small okay?"
A broad grin stretched over Sakura's face. "Thank you Sasuke-kun!!"
"Wait for me Sasuke-kun!" A 10-year-old Sakura puffed hard as she ran after Sasuke. He looked back at her, a flash of annoyance crossing his face.
"You were the one who wanted to train with me so keep up or go home!" he shouted back to her as he continued his unceasing sprint.
"Why do I even let her come to my training sessions?" he grumbled to himself. "She can't even keep up during the warm up jogs! Sure she's my best friend but I can't slack off for her if I'm ever going to catch up to aniki…"
"Ouch!" a sharp cry from Sakura disturbed Sasuke's train of thought. He looked back to see her nursing a raw knee. Tears of embarrassment and shame streamed over her cheeks.
"Sakura…" Sasuke walked back and knelt beside her. "Let me see that."
"No it's nothing," she pushed him away. "Let's keep going!" The cherry blossom stood back up and sped up ahead, wiping tears away as she did.
"C'mon Sasuke-kun," she called back. "Last one back to the teahouse is a rotten mochi!"
"Haha, no-one calls me a rotten rice cake!" Sasuke chased after her.
"Even if she's a bit slow, she's definitely strong. She's definitely got spirit," he thought to himself admiringly.
It was later that day. Sasuke walked home with a small smile etched on his kawaii face. It had been a good day, a morning training session and lunch with Sakura. He walked into the Uchiha compound, noting that it was strangely quiet and dark.
"Oji-san? Uncle?" he called. "Oba-san? Auntie?"
Suddenly, all around him, corpses everywhere. These were his kinsmen, the proud and strong Uchiha clan, all slaughtered like animals. Shock freezing his tears, he began to stumble towards his family's home, fearing the worse.
"Oka-san? Mother?" he tentatively called out. He came to the doors of the dining room. Reaching forward with one hand, he pushed it open. There stood Itachi, his beloved brother, his idol, his world. And at Itachi's feet lay the dead and bleeding bodies of his parents.
"Aniki… who did this?!" Sasuke's voice cracked as tears began to stream out.
Those two cold words shook Sasuke. It was those two words that changed him forever. Gone was the sweet boy of 10. Gone.
It was a year later. Sakura accompanied Sasuke to visit the grave of his parents. She silently stood back as he laid a wreath of lilies by their tombstone. They stood there for a long time, Sasuke silently praying to his parents. Eventually he moved on, walking out of the graveyard.
Sakura stepped forward and laid a branch of cherry blossom by the wreath. She gave a deep bow of respect before chasing up to Sasuke.
They visited a teahouse, sitting there in silence. To others the silence may have seemed awkward but Sakura had grown used to it. After The Incident, they still saw each other frequently but laughter and joy had been replaced by silence. That was all, just silence.
Sakura put down her cup of tea. She hesitantly reached over to hold his hand. "Talk to me Sasuke," she said, dropping the honourary for once. "It's almost been a year. Are you ready yet?"
"I think I'm going to go first. Don't worry Sakura. I'll be fine," Sasuke took his hand back and began to walk out. Abruptly he stopped and turned back. "I'm sorry Sakura," he whispered.
Sakura's face dropped at this response. Hiding her tearful expression behind the cup of tea, she took deep breaths and tried to calm down. At the next table, several of Sasuke's fangirls sat glaring at Sakura. The fanclub was just newborn but already very possessive of their "little wittle Sasuke-kuuuun!!"
One strode over to Sakura's table and slammed her hand down. Sakura looked up, shocked.
"Ey, what do you think you're dong with our Sasuke-kun?" she growled.
"That's right, you're either with the fanclub or you stay away from him!" the other said.
Sakura looked away, anger boiling up inside her.
"Didn't you hear what they said forehead-girl?" a familiar voice said. Sakura looked up again; it was Ino.
"What do you want Ino?" Sakura replied wearily, too tired to argue.
"Just stay away from him okay?" the first fangirl said threateningly.
"What?!" "Did you hear her?!" "THAT NERVE"
Unbeknownst to all, Sasuke stood in the doorway watching a fight break out.
I'm burdening Sakura with all my troubles and pain. And these stupid girls are hurting her. Because of me. I'm sorry Sakura.
It was the first year at Ninja Academy. Sasuke seemed to have changed a lot on the outside. He was still silent but now also very arrogant. His relationship with Sakura had deteriorated to nothing. He had stopped associating with her to protect her from being burdened by his troubles and also the fangirls. But Sakura didn't know that, so the pain of rejection by a childhood friend cut her deeply.
Then one day, Sasuke slipped a note to her as they walked past each other in the hallway.
I'm so sorry Sakura. I distanced myself from you to protect you, but I can't do this anymore. Please meet me at the old park where we used to play this afternoon and I'll explain everything to you.
Tears began to slide down Sakura's face. But these were tears of joy and relief.
So he doesn't hate me… yokatta… thank goodness!
It was later that year. Sasuke and Sakura were finally back together. But they could only meet in secret. This was Sasuke's condition. "I'll only talk to you if we do it in secret. I don't want you to get any more crap from those girls."
Despite this, Sakura was happy to simply be back in Sasuke's life.
"Let's go take purikura Sasuke-kun!" she cheered, dragging him towards a sticker photo booth.
"Ooh this looks good…" she murmured, pressing buttons on the touchscreen. "What do you think of this night sky background?"
Sasuke shrugged in response. Sakura turned back to the screen. She hadn't expected much of a response. Sasuke might be willing to accept her back but the new Sasuke didn't laugh or talk anymore.
"Let's pose Sasuke-kun!"
"Hn," he stood in his regular stoic pose, but he looked good anyway, as usual!
"Mwa!" Sakura leaned in to peck him on the cheek. Sasuke's eyes grew as big as saucers, a hot blush creeping over his cheeks.
"Power, do you want it?" A simple invitation like that from Orochimaru stole Sasuke back out of Sakura's life. She didn't think she could stop him, but she tried none the less.
"Sasuke-kun! Don't go! Why don't you tell me anything anymore?" Sakura cried, bawling shamelessly.
Sasuke kept his back to her so she wouldn't see the pained expression on his face. He hated to see or hear Sakura cry and she did it far too often. He clenched his fist and took in a deep breath.
"Why do I have to tell you anything?" his cold voice sliced through Sakura.
That night, tempers flared and hearts broke. Evil triumphed and innocence lost.
Sasuke sighed, closing the photo album. He got up and walked towards his balcony. He had finally delivered vengeance to Itachi. The S-rank criminal was not dead but a vegetable lying in hospital, a much more painful existence in Sasuke's mind.
Now that his mission was finished, he had taken up residence in a larger manor home on the outskirts of Konoha, awaiting the day Orochimaru demanded payment for his services. It was a large luxurious home but very empty and cold, without the company of any other.
As he gazed upon Konoha, a cigarette in hand, Sasuke came to a realisation.
Sakura has gone through so much for me. I never wondered why because I took her for granted. She was someone to always be there, a dear friend for as long as I can remember. But now I realise, she did it all because she loved me.
But more importantly, I've finally realised… I love her too. I LOVE HER.
"I LOVE HER!" Sasuke shouted with sudden joy.
He bolted back inside, quickly changing into neater attire and grabbing a box from under the Christmas tree. It was a box of rich imported chocolates, a gift from himself to himself. He didn't like sweets much but Sakura did, so he always gave them to himself as reminder of her. But this year they would be given to someone who would love them.
He ran all the way to Konoha but considering his super super super ninja abilities, this was a small feat. He purchased a frozen strawberry ice cream cone from a 24-hour supermarket and went to Sakura's home with his gifts. But when he finally arrived on her doorstep he froze. The adrenaline pumping through him slowly faded and suddenly he was nervous.
He stood there in the falling snow for a long time. "C'mon Sasuke," he growled. "She's the love of your life. If you don't do this now, you never will!"
Finally he plucked up the courage to ring the doorbell. The few minutes it took for Sakura to open the door felt like years to Sasuke, as he stood on the frozen doorstep, nervously shuffling his feet.
"Haha, don't start the movie without me Hinata!" Sasuke heard Sakura call as her footsteps approached the door. Suddenly he felt like his head was going to explode and then she opened the door. A flood of warmth and light rushed from inside the house and onto Sasuke's cold face.
"Sa-sa-sa…" Sasuke's voice caught in the back of his throat.
"SASUKE?!" Sakura leapt into his arms, hugging him close. "I missed you so much…" Tears of the greatest joy streamed out in torrents.
They stood there for a long time, the ice cream cone finally melting over Sasuke's fist. Sakura began to pull out of the hug but Sasuke held on tightly.
"Sakura… I love you."