A/N: Very rough draft but I kinda liked it.
Any comments/crit would be appreciated as this is my first ever Naruto/SasuIno fic!
I disclaim Naruto, tis not my creation sadly.

oneshot.

--

Watching the Sun Set

--

Sasuke doesn't believe in unnecessary death. Perhaps it's tied to his family (and Itachi) but he doesn't like to think such memories affect him so much. He'd rather pretend it's just his morals, his conscience, already muddied enough with the tattered and broken bonds lying at his feet. He'd much rather pretend it's because he's human, but even that is too farfetched for even him to believe.

"Sasuke?"

"Deidara isn't so far off, catch up and do what you must," he says and makes a point of looking back at them to ensure their departure. He thinks he hears Suigetsu scoff but he doesn't really care enough to comment so long as he follows orders. Whether they respect him or not doesn't matter as much as Sasuke thinks it should. Karin looks a little put-off but she doesn't dare object when Sasuke is glaring at them the way he is right now. She follows with one last look at his face, unimpressionable as always.

Sasuke stares at the limp body on the ground, easily defeated by Deidara before they showed up. Never was her safety their concern, but the solo Akatsuki member was too much a temptation to ignore. Any dead Akatsuki was a benefit to them, regardless of who's hand they died by.

He pulls out his sword from its sheath, his fist clenched tightly around the hilt as he contemplated the blade above her neck. Her hair, the color of pale sunshine, is scattered about her head like her blood pooling underneath her back, bright and red and alive much like he imagined she used to be. There is a hitai-ate around her waist but he ignores it (like he's avoiding looking at her face). He's not interested in her identity when the idea of familiarity is something much too foreign and unwanted.

The blade catches a ray of light and shines brightly before him.

He doesn't believe in ruthless killing but he knows the game he has to play, and he knows his part.

He hates thinking there are strings attached to his wrist as his blade comes down, but then she speaks and he almost deceives himself into believing he recognizes her.

"What dumb l-luck, huh?" she says with a tone that hints at a smile but there is none. He doesn't say anything in return (really, he hates when they speak) and instead stops with the blade sighing near her neck. "What are the…chances…y-you, me, I bet you don't even recognize…recognize me anymore…but that's okay," she finishes with a small exhale and a shuddering breath.

He's staring at her, the blue of her eyes glossy with tears. He doesn't know where her wound is, and he can't help wondering where all the blood keeps coming from. The tip of her ponytail is now tinted red, drowning in the pool near her abdomen.

"…that's okay…" she repeats absentmindedly, staring at a point far away from them.

He feels the strings pushing his sword down but he keeps still, entranced by something he cannot name. Staring at something so unlike everything, a weak kunoichi resigned to death, with blue eyes and hair the color of dieing sunshine. He imagines her hair is a perfect reflection of who she is, despite the fact he has not spend more than an hour in her conscious presence. It is long, its elegance somehow hindered and highlighted at the same time by her simple ponytail, firm on her head. He imagines she is strong at the base but flimsy and unbounded at the ends now dyed in red. He thinks soon the red will reach the base and there will be nothing solid left. Her bangs, covering her right eye, hinder her sight and her perception is probably as skewed as she is right now.

He believes she flows freely like her blood eating away at her hair.

But he knows nothing of her. She coughs and his sword moves with elegance and determination unknown to him back to his sheath. He moves her hair away from the blood dying everything in its path before she murmurs a weak thanks. He takes her hitai-ate from around her waist and folds it in order to fit it in his obi snugly.

Her smile is soft and tender, and the mere sight of it confuses him. "That's mine…you know…"

"Hn. You won't need it anymore."

"I…suppose."

Her response unnerves him for some reason and he realizes that was not what he was expecting.

"Solo mission to track down an Akatsuki member, getting stupider aren't we?"

Her smile is still there. He can feel his fingers twitching for his sword as though the strings are beckoning him.

"I'm not…alone…don—…don't worry, kay?"

"Arrogant of you to make assumptions," he states simply, finding nothing better to say.

She makes an attempt at a shrug, further complicating her injuries as her brows crease suddenly. She inhales sharply and it feels like she's sucking the air right out of his lungs.

"…maybe," she says at last, the wrinkles in her forehead never disappearing. Her puffs of breath are suddenly louder than Sasuke likes, and he wants nothing more than to leave. Still her chest rises and falls and he can't bring his feet or his body to move. The silence that follows feels both comfortable and awkward, the two ninja waiting patiently for her departure.

"B-baiting your t-time…are you?" she asks, her eyes shut tight.

"I'm not going to kill you," says Sasuke and he doesn't understand what's so shocking when her eyes fly open.

"You-you're not?"

"No."

"…why?"

It seems that the very thought that Sasuke will not kill her is much more important to her than the fact she is dieing already. He thinks how strange she is but then she looks up at him from her place on the ground and he can no longer think about anything at all. Her eyes seem to be admiring him, and her smile seems to be contemplating him.

She grins at him, a gesture probably watered-down, before it fades easily into another wan smile.

She closes her eyes again but they are peaceful and solemn and no longer in pain. He doesn't know if this is worse.

He never believed in unnecessary death. He wishes it were his morals that stopped him from killing mercilessly, or maybe a phantom of a conscience living in his head (but there is nothing there). Her breathing is slowing down when he pretends for a second that he's human and tells her to hold on.

She says she's trying. He tells her to try harder and she still has enough strength to smile at him in the same way as before.

"S-stop worryin'…"

He knows there is nothing for her beyond this, but the sight of someone dieing slowly before him tugs at something he does not understand. Maybe if he played his only cards right, he would mean something and things wouldn't start and end with Itachi for once, but they'd start and end with him.

And he could let go, like he once dreamed about when he was a lonely boy looking for a friend in another lonely boy. He could dream but he's not sure if he will ever be able to look past Itachi, because Itachi has encompassed the whole of Sasuke's sight for as long as he can remember. He's been Itachi's Sasuke longer than he's been any other kind of Sasuke.

"…m'tired…"

She coughs. He listens for her breathing and it's there, supportive and steady with only a hint of a wheeze. (It's scaring him.) He kneels beside the pool of blood surrounding her body and tells her to stay alive. He tells her anything that comes to mind so long as she's listening and still there with him, but she's no longer responding, even when he starts saying things that don't make sense. He wraps his hand around her clammy palm to keep hers from shaking, feeling the strings on his mind and soul tugging with renewed force. Her grip is slack, and her eyes have been closed for far too long while her hair just lies there in a beautiful pool of dieing color.

She speaks and he almost fools himself into believing he's human.

It'll…be okay, Sasuke-kun.

And he feels the remnants of his tattered bonds and heart beating.

--

end »