Author's Notes: This idea came to me while listening to "Love Song" by Sarah Bareilles (obviously). Since people liked The Haunted Portrait so much, I figured I'd try my hand at another holiday one-shot.


Title: Love Song

Rating: T (or PG-13)

Summary: (SasuSaku) If all you have is leaving I'm gonna need a better reason to write you a love song. Finally, after years of waiting, their reunion, and how every preconceived notion they had about each other flies out the window.

Pairings: SasuSaku

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, and I also do not own "Love Song" by Sarah Bareilles, even though the song has virtually nothing to do with the actual plotline.


It began as a simple mission. Stealing a scroll wasn't that hard to the pink haired medic-nin, although she had never fully understood why shinobi were willing to spill blood for something seemingly as worthless as a scrap of paper. What could possibly be on it that was so interesting? Normally, a mission to receive a scroll was music to Sakura's ears. It seemed like a vacation compared with some of the other missions she had to undergo. She could quickly steal the scroll and use the remainder of her time allotted to find someplace nice—like a hot spring—to camp for the night. Her luxury vacation spiraled downwards, however, once she realized from whom she had to steal the aforementioned scroll.

Orochimaru.

Said sannin was her greatest enemy, right alongside the members of Akatsuki. She loathed the man for several reasons. Aside from making Tsunade's life increasingly difficult, Sakura was sickened by his experiments on live humans. Him and Kabuto, that rat. How little of a heart did you have to have to do such cruel things to living, breathing humans? Eventually, the medic decided that they had no heart, just a black hole in their chest that was a gateway to the flames of Hell.

Orochimaru had been her enemy long before she found out about any of this. He had stolen Sasuke from her and Naruto. Their teammate. His surrogate brother. Her former crush. And now, Sasuke could unfortunately be labeled as the snake's pawn. What a sad, sad day when such a prestigious man, high and mighty in his well-earned and deserved glory, stooped to be on the same level as a snake slithering on its belly.

Currently, she and a few other comrades were at Ichiraku. It was tradition before going on big missions to eat here. And since it was Sakura's first solo mission as an ANBU, they believed that this tradition needed to be upheld more than ever.

To her right was Naruto, on his nth bowl of ramen, and to his right was Hinata. The two had been dating for the past two months and had been inseparable ever since. On Sakura's left was Neji, Shikamaru, and Ino. Neji and Sakura had become good friends after being placed on several challenging missions together. He was surprisingly easy to be around, especially since she at one time considered him to be as stoic as a certain Uchiha, and was a good sparring partner. As for Ino, they'd only grown closer once Sasuke had left the village. Funny how one boy could be the cause for so much female distress.

Shikamaru was not only a brilliant ninja and Ino's boyfriend, he was Sakura's go-to person for advice. He played shogi with her and even allowed her to watch clouds with him after they were both exhausted from a long, hard day. As much as Sakura hated to say it, if Sasuke had never left the village, she'd still be so wrapped up in him that she'd never get to know these amazing people around her.

"I can't believe baa-chan is sending you on a mission now, Sakura-chan!" Naruto whined. "You're going to miss Valentine's Day!"

The medic smiled. "Don't be silly Naruto, I've got three days. That's more than enough time."

"To get a scroll from Orochimaru?" Ino asked.

Sakura shook her head. "It's not like that at all. I'll be retrieving it from one of his abandoned lairs. No one is likely to be there anyway."

"Still Sakura-chan, be careful."

She grinned and nudged his shoulder. "I'm always careful Naruto!"

She heard s snort of disbelief from either Neji or Shikamaru, but she couldn't quite place it. She glared in their general direction instead.

All too soon, it grew dark, and the current occupants of the small ramen shop spread out in their general directions. Neji began walking with Sakura, since their houses—more like her apartment and his estate—were in the same direction. In all honesty, she thought that the Hyuuga branch member was cute. Though he was already with Tenten. He was Sakura's friend, though, and she wouldn't give that up for anything.

"Thanks for walking me home Neji." Sakura told him once they reached her apartment. "Ugh, I still have to pack…"

"What time are you leaving in the morning?"

"As soon as the sun comes up. It's not very far, but I'd rather get a chance to scope the place first."

"Just be careful, Sakura."

Said girl rolled her eyes comically. "Not you too. I get it bad enough from Naruto and Kakashi-sensei."

He smirked. "Tough." His hand reached into his pocket and pulled out something circular, placing the object in her hand. "Here. It's always given me luck, and I expect you're going to need it."

Looking down at it, it looked like it was once a pendant for a necklace. It had a tiny loop at the top that gave it away. It was a circle a little larger than a quarter, and it was yellow with a red flame. The Hyuuga symbol.

"Thank you Neji." She grinned at a sudden thought. "Won't Tenten get mad if she sees me with this?"

He had begun to walk away, but she could feel his smirk even with his back turned. "Which is exactly why you have to bring it back."

Oh…

Shaking her head at him, she went to the second floor before opening her apartment door. Sakura retreated into her bedroom and rummaged through her closet before triumphantly holding up a travel bag.

Clothes, food, weapons, medicine. That was about all she'd need. Three days was enough time to get a scroll, but not enough to consider needing more than the bare necessities. She wanted to make it back by Valentine's Day, after all.

But why? It wasn't like she had anyone to celebrate it with. The rookie nine—eight, excluding Sasuke—and Gai's old team were for the most part paired up. Those who weren't had no interest in her. Even Lee may have found someone, but he was torn between choosing someone new and still pining after his old love.

With a heavy sigh, Sakura set her bedside alarm for four AM. The lights were turned out as she slid beneath the covers, glancing at a waxing moon that was near full. Lovers would use the lights to have candle-lit dinners and walks by the lake, fighting for their love. Sakura would use it to see her enemies and her paths, fighting for her life.

It was with these thoughts that the pink-haired medic nin fell into a restless sleep.


There was no experience through the world like flying through trees. The quiet sound of leaves rustling as the wind blew and the distinct "thud" of one's foot as it landed on a branch to repeat the experience all over again.

Sakura was currently clad in full ANBU uniform, and she looked mighty intimidating, if she had to say so herself. The only thing that bothered her slightly was the hood that they required her to wear. The Council argued with Tsunade that her hair was too bright and she'd potentially give herself away if she was trying to camouflage herself. Tsunade didn't care, since Sakura could take care of herself, but it was on the Council's orders that she had a black hood restraining her hair.

With every step she could feel Neji's pendant on her wrist. Thanks to a small piece of string she had managed to fashion it into a bracelet of sorts, which could stay hidden in her normal gloves.

After hours of nonstop traveling, she finally reached a good stopping place. It was perhaps a half-days travel from her destination, and there was a convenient town nearby in case she needed anything. Though she could have gotten a night's stay in a hotel, most ninja—including herself—considered that as wasting money. She was accompanied to sleeping on the ground, and while a bed may have seemed like a luxury, she'd rather use that money for a decent meal rather than killing off the local wildlife.

In the morning, Sakura looked as she normally did—ruffled. She had camped near a creek, so she used that water to splash her face and shock her awake. After eating an apple and a piece of bread for breakfast and stretching out her muscles, she was ready to venture out once more.

The sun was fast disappearing behind clouds, so by the time Sakura reached her destination, she guess it to be a little past noon. Orochimaru's lair didn't look too fancy, just an opening leading underground. However, there was an entire maze built underground if this hideaway was anything like the one in Sound. This one was at least at the outskirts of the Fire Country close to Waterfall. The sun was appearing from the dark clouds, but it was bound to rain in a few hours, so time was of the essence if she didn't want to get caught completely in the downpour. Now she would survey the area. Tonight she'd steal the scroll.

The area seemed calm enough, and no sorts of sights or smells alerted her to another's presence in the area. At Orochimaru's base in Sound, a faint stench of blood and sweat reeked around the compound. Here, the smell of wet grass and dirt assaulted her senses.

There were a few traps around the door, but none that would be too difficult to disable. Sakura made a mental note to reconstruct them once her mission was finished so he wouldn't suspect someone had been in there, should he choose to return. Even the thought of the snake sannin sent chills up her spine and made her hair stand on end. Suddenly, the mission's completion couldn't come soon enough.

When the rain came, she let herself be caught in it. Hopefully, it would wash away her scent. Every piece of medical knowledge she possessed was telling her to find shelter for fear of pneumonia, but a stuffy nose was a small price to pay for a mission of this size. The rain slowed to a fine drizzle, and Sakura made sure that she was dry enough as not to drip too heavily. She pulled her hood over her hair and her mask over her face before the medic quietly slunk towards the opening.

All of her senses were on edge, and she made sure to keep her breathing silent. There were only traces of powerful chakra in the air, which meant that no one had been in here for years. Dust lined everything, and the spider count was reaching a nauseating level.

Sakura opened door after door trying to find what looked like a study or a library. Tsunade told her that the scroll would be hard to find, but this was borderline ridiculous. The first few doors had been storage, for what she didn't want to know. Then came the residential quarters. After that were several large, empty rooms. As it got colder as she went further underground, it also seemed to get quieter. Sakura could see her breath coming out, what little breath she could get. It was so hard to breathe anymore.

She turned a corner when the smell hit her. Blood. Old blood. She could have sworn she heard screams echoing off the cold stone walls. But then she managed to grasp that she was imagining it all. Old screams. Young. Male. Female. A choked sound came from her mouth. Was this a genjutsu? Had there been a hidden trap she'd missed? To be cautious, she put her hands into a seal and muttered, "Release." The sounds were gone now, but not in a way a genjutsu usually disappeared. Maybe it was all in her head after all.

The next door she came to was locked, so she slowly picked it.

And then wished she hadn't.

This looked like where Kabuto spent most of his time. Masses of rotting flesh hung on the walls. A rectangle table in the center had a dissected body on it surrounded by blood, and then blood in small puddles on the ground. Tools were still dirty on their separate wheeled table. Whatever made Orochimaru flee this place had made him do it in a hurry.

Since none of the bodies were alive, she closed the door with a pang in her heart and locked it again. Sakura was beginning to get the worst paranoia. Her heart was suddenly pounding in her ears. No one is here. She told herself. They fled years ago. But even this gave her no comfort.

The medic nin picked up her pace and explored for another ten minutes at least until she came upon a large pair of heavy doors. She picked the lock again before shakily opening one of the doors. Thankfully, there was a desk in the middle of the room, a few bookshelves, but not much else. She presumed this was Orochimaru's office.

There were many scrolls put neatly on his desk. She opened one after another, not finding the one she was assigned to get. She looked over to see a door a few feet from the one she had just come through. She walked towards it and found a vast library on the other side with scrolls galore.

How troublesome. Her inner mind spoke, using a term coined by Konoha's local genius.

Patiently, she examined a few scrolls. It appeared there was nothing more than lists and records here. She didn't need those. She needed the scroll with Sound's weaknesses and flaws. In a sense, she needed Orochimaru's diary. Whatever he wrote down that could possibly be helpful to Konoha. It would contain his innermost secrets, his pacts with other nations, anything.

Stepping back into the office, Sakura managed to glimpse a corner of a picture hanging out from behind the bookshelves. Something that she wouldn't see anywhere else in the room. And assuming no one but Orochimaru himself was allowed in the records room, no one else would see it.Ever.

The female ANBU moved the bookshelf with a loud scraping noise, and delicately took the picture off of its hook to reveal a hidden safe. Only, instead of numbers, there were letters.

Taking something from the pages of a detective novel, Sakura brushed some dust onto the keypad with her gloved thumb. The oils on the sannin's finger had faded over the years, making her squint to pick out the letters he'd pressed.

A-C-I-H-U.

Taking a moment, she went over the combinations in her head.

HIAUC.

AUIHC.

UHICA.

UCHIA.

And then it clicked. He'd pressed the "H" twice.

Unfolding her arms, she punched a word on the keypad.

Uchiha.

Click.

The door opened for her, and she gathered the paper inside. There was a scroll and a few stray pieces of paper. She gathered them into her pack and shut the door when there was a sudden, unexplainable beeping.

And then quiet.

Stones on the wall moved aside, and Sakura barely had time to get out of the room before kunai were launched at her from all different directions.

Booby traps.

The cooridors were no different. She had to dodge faster than ever before to avoid them from scratching her and leaving her DNA here. Puppets with no master began to attack her, and she figured the best thing to do would be to run. She got two corridors down when her foot sank into the floor, and something opened above her. Sakura looked up, saw gleaming red eyes. And jumped aside before fifty snakes fell in the place she'd just been standing, probably kept alive all these years by rats and squirrels.

Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes?

An iron grate had blocked the passage in front of her, but she powered chakra into her arms and bent the bars aside. Running for her life as the poisonous snakes were on her heels. She tried to remember how to get back to the entrance.

There was a faint light up ahead. One that was slowly diminishing. Sakura saw that a heavy stone door was closing over the entrance!

With a burst of speed she didn't know she was capable of, she slid underneath the closing wall and out into the open air, looking up at the stars. A few thuds were heard as her pursuers smacked into the closed entrance. With a sigh of relief, she got up and took off into the woods, stopping when she thought she was far enough away.

She opened the scroll and smiled to herself.

Score.


Suddenly, Kabuto's eyes snapped open behind his glasses. He dropped the bowl he carried and did a quick 180. Walking heavily down the stone corridors to his master's private training area.

Could they have…? No. It was quite impossible to steal those documents. They were so tightly secured in a maze of underground architecture that any outsider would get lost in. So many traps were set up around that base that even he would have a tough time recognizing and disabling them all. He just hoped that whoever had gotten inside had been caught by the booby traps on their way out.

The medic knocked on the door, where a somewhat calm "Come in" was heard.

Orochimaru and his new favorite sparring partner were locked by the swords. It wasn't surprising really, since they had been doing this every day for a while more for entertainment purposes than real training.

"What is it, Kabuto?" Orochimaru asked him, though not sparing him a glance. Neither him nor his sparring partner had worked up a sweat yet. Also not surprising.

Kabuto pushed up his glasses. "Someone has infiltrated the north-west Fire Country base, sir."

Orochimaru's sparring partner saw a flicker of annoyance run across his yellow eyes. "Did they take anything?"

"I cannot tell. The traps at the entrance have been disabled, but that's all I can glean."

"So it's a skilled ninja at that, hm?" He smiled. "How interesting."

Orochimaru broke the sword lock before looking at the other, more silent boy in the room. "I will send you to apprehend the ninja. Bring him to me once you find him, if he has not already been killed by the traps in the base."

"Hn."


Sakura hadn't stopped running until morning, as the sun was just peeking above the horizon. Again she set up her tent, and crawled into it for some well-deserved rest. But not before placing the scroll in her bag which she used as a makeshift pillow and a kunai in one hand.

Her sleep was a long, but restless one. All of her energy had been drained in her flight from Orochimaru's base, but her dreams were haunted by mutilated bodies and snakes galore. When the late afternoon sun woke her up, she couldn't have been more grateful.

She packed up her things and took off to Konoha at a slower pace. Tomorrow was Valentine's Day, and she needed to get a good head start if she wanted to make it home by lunch.

Eventually though, her body's natural sleep patterns started making her drowsy at about eleven. Deciding she was far enough inside the Fire Country to avoid a random downpour, she laid out her sleeping bag and fell fast asleep within minutes, guarding the scroll with her senses on edge.

Something woke her nightmarish sleep up at about five in the morning, when it was still dark outside. She fanned out her senses, and didn't sense anyone at first. Then there was a soft presence in the trees around her that was so suppressed, it was no wonder she'd missed it several times. Thankfully, she was too tired last night to even think about taking her mask off, so whoever it was hadn't seen her face.

Acting as if she didn't know there was someone watching her, Sakura got out of her sleeping bag and folded it up quietly before sealing it in a scroll. She took her pouch and attached it at her hip. Taking out two kunai, one for each hand, she pinpointed the chakra.

Gotcha.

Seemingly with no warning, she threw a kunai in their direction. A thud indicated it had hit a tree, and on reflex the medic nin ducked to avoid a swipe at her head. She jutted out her foot to trip whoever it was, but he jumped.

Rolling away, missing a sword by inches, Sakura quickly stood and managed to position her kunai at his neck. At the same time, the sound of metal informed her that there was a blade against her neck. They were at a stalemate.

"Konoha. Hn, I'm not surprised."

And it was with this familiar voice that Sakura actually paid attention long enough to notice who he was.

Sakura clenched her fist harder around her weapon to keep it from quivering, though not in fear. Thankfully her mask was on or else he'd see her gaping mouth and wide eyes. After so many years…After all this time…

Sasuke…

And there he stood. A full head taller than her with eyes more intense than the last time she'd seen him. He still wore similar attire though, which only accentuated his toned abs and chest.

Be strong Sakura. Ninja have no emotions.

"So you're the one that infiltrated the snake's base. A woman. Kabuto's traps must be lacking."

It appeared that not only had Orochimaru turned her former teammate into a killing machine further pent up on revenge, he'd also turned him into a sexist pig. Her kunai drew a thin slice of blood across his neck. He didn't seem to notice.

"I suggest you give back whatever you stole, and I might let you live."

Sakura countered with, "I suggest you return to Konoha to accept the consequences to your treason."

It was clear that neither would happen.

But in the meanwhile, Sasuke's eyebrow rose a fraction. He was trying to place her voice. A familiar voice, yet no face to go along with it. Although studying Sasuke's facial expressions had made her lose focus on everything else around her.

Chi. Chichichichichiiiii

Sakura's eyes widened behind the mask, and she jumped back a good distance. The Chidori Nagashi surrounded him in sparks of blue chakra. Sakura scowled. If that's how he wanted to do things, two could play that game.

From her thigh holster, she sent three shuriken at him. Sasuke blocked them with his sword, as she'd intended, and didn't see her coming. She aimed a punch at his face, but the Sharingan wielder caught her fist. The medic twisted her hand until she was the one holding him, and aimed a kunai at his chest.

A log. He used a replacement jutsu.

Using the wood to her advantage, Sakura swung it towards where she knew he was. Sadly, he looked like he barely even moved, and the next thing she knew merewoodchips were falling to the earth.

This may be harder than she'd originally thought.

Performing a seal, Sakura rushed at him again. The Uchiha rolled his eyes before he stabbed her in the stomach…and she vanished in a puff of smoke.

Thank you, Naruto!

What he didn't notice was her coming up behind him with an arm full of chakra. He turned last minute and she was centimeters away from grazing his cheek. Suddenly, she was reminded of when she reunited with Naruto and Kakashi-sensei.

If only I could land a punch…

But it's meaningless if you can't!

She had to hit him to get any kind of advantage. She'd either have to drag him home kicking and screaming or unconscious, but right now she was predicting the latter.

Sasuke brought his sword down. Sakura tried to jump away, but not before he'd sliced the bare flesh of her arm. She growled. The cut was deep, but not unbearable.

Even a good ways away, Sasuke thought he heard her hiss "Shannaro" under her breath.

He watched as she performed a seal, and two copies appeared beside her. Two clones rushed at him at once, and one, the one he presumed was the real one, hesitated for a moment before following.

Sakura's clones went for his head and feet, one coming in from the left and the other from the right. Sasuke jumped and curled into himself to avoid both, and then sensed the third coming at him. She tried to punch his middle during his descent, but he stabbed the ANBU, satisfied to hear the tearing of flesh and tissue as his sword sank through her chest.

His opponent then did something unexpected. She smirked.

And then turned into a log.

The transformation wasn't even complete yet when Sasuke saw a roundhouse kick bury itself into his chest. There was a sickening crack of ribs, and Sakura watched satisfied as her former crush was hurled back into the forest, through several trees, and did not stop for a good hundred yards, at least. In any case, she couldn't see him anymore.

I hit Sasuke! I hit Sasuke! She thought in a singsong voice. Needless to say she'd dropped the –kun suffix years ago.

She was broken out of her reverie less than a minute later when she heard a voice echo through the forest.

"Katon!"

And that was all the incentive she needed to dodge perhaps the largest fireball in existence.

It singed her as she dove out of the way. But it was obvious he'd gotten better if the sheer size of the thing was anything to go by. It was bigger than her house! Sakura attempted to put some of it out with a water jutsu, but the water just sizzled against it. Though fortunately, she managed to get enough water on the trees to have the Uchiha not be guilty of incinerating an entire forest. There were only a few flickering flames on the trees when Sasuke's fireball lost strength and died down.

Sakura was in the middle of a sigh of relief when her breath caught in her throat. Sasuke had come out of the forest looking absolutely pissed. His shirt was in tatters and he opted to just have it hang around his waist rather than to put it on and have one sleeve in tact and the rest mostly missing. The famous Sharingan was activated and he was glaring at her as if she were Itachi himself.

Okay…so she was screwed.

He drew his sword with a horrifying sound of metal running along its sheath. Sakura clenched her fists and tried not to be intimidated.

As he calmly stepped within range—sword reflecting light, eyes still murderous—Sakura punched the ground. He didn't move when he saw what she was going to do, underestimating her power. Again. But then the ground beneath him splintered into a maze of trenches. He halted, losing his footing for a moment. A kunai with an exploding tag attached to it was hurled at him, and he managed to jump to the side to avoid the large explosion it created.

Around the side of the smoke, the Sharingan wielder saw the ANBU looking for him amidst the smoke. He appeared quietly behind her and put his blade to her throat. "Hn."

And then, without his knowledge, a kunai hovered at the back of his own throat. "Nice try."

Just when Sakura thought she'd finally gotten the upper hand, a blade now rested snug against her neck. "Nice try yourself." She watched in astonishment as the two clones—his and hers—disappeared in front of her.

How just like Sasuke. Always one step ahead.

The hand holding her kunai dropped to Sakura's side. "What do you want?"

"Whatever you stole." She felt him flip open her pouch, searching for the documents. The kunoichi gasped. He could not get that scroll!

In one last ditch effort to save her mission, Sakura swept her legs behind her and managed to kick his feet out from under him. Sasuke lost his grip on his sword as he fell to the ground and took her with him. Sakura tried to get the situation in her favor by being the one in the dominant position, but he overpowered her in a swift move.

He held both of her hands above her head and straddled her waist. There was nothing she could do now. She cursed in her head.

Sasuke opened his mouth like he was about to say something but then stopped, glancing above her head to one of her wrists. He peeled back the edge of her glove with his thumb, causing a small, round object to come tumbling out.

Ah! Neji's pendant! Good luck my foot!

Whether Sasuke heard the loud thudding of her heart or not, he didn't show it. He stared at the symbol in confusion until it finally clicked in his head.

"Hyuuga?"

Meanwhile, Sasuke immediately thought of Hinata, but then doubted seriously that she had changed that much over the course of time. That one girl on Hyuuga's team? The bun girl? That was probably it, but only one way to find out.

Putting both of his captor's hands in one of his, Sasuke tore off her mask and her hood quickly. He looked down expecting to see two brown buns and chocolate brown eyes. Instead, it was the shock of his life to be staring at a mass of short pink and panicked green eyes.

"Sakura?"

The woman before him couldn't find the words to say. Her voice was so tightly closed that she had to take deep breaths to achieve a semblance of air. But then again, what would she say? "Hey, Sasuke, long time no see!" or "Get off of me teme!" or perhaps do the twelve-year-old thing and burst into tears. Either way, she found she was frozen to the spot.

And, it seemed, so was he.

Sakura was the tiniest bit satisfied at his widened eyes and gaping mouth. He hadn't ever seen her power before—he'd left before she could attack him when they'd first found him with Sai—so this must have been quite the surprise. Imagine little weak Sakura growing up to be a strong and pretty kunoichi, fully capable disintegrating the ground he walked on.

Eat your heart out.

The weight disappeared from her waist and her hands. Sakura looked up just as Sasuke got off of her and sheathed his sword. He turned away and began to walk. "Go home, Sakura."

Wha—?

"No." She said as she too got off the ground, but she didn't follow him. Her ninja skills were kicking in again. "You're a missing-nin Uchiha. My orders are to apprehend you and bring you in for quest—"

"Still the stickler for the rules…" Sasuke scoffed. He had stopped when he heard his surname coming from her mouth. Somehow, it seemed so unnatural. He expected to hear "Sasuke-kun" again.

"Still the traitor!" She threw back in his face. "But you don't have to be! You can still come back home. Hokage-sama is a very understanding person."

"She probably wouldn't be so understanding if I left you for dead, hm?" He asked, drawing his sword once again, back still turned towards her.

Suddenly, she had to stop seeing him as Sasuke-kun. He was Uchiha Sasuke now, a dangerous missing-nin who had betrayed Konoha in favor of Orochimaru. She drew a kunai from her pouch. "I'd like to see you try." She growled.

He looked at her, only half turning. "After all this time, you're still annoying."

It was that night, playing again. History repeating itself. Only this time, Sakura vowed, she would not be the one that ended up broken. With that thought in mind, Sakura turned her fiercest glare on him. Sasuke just smirked.

And then he vanished.

The pink haired nin barely had any time to think. Running on instinct, she dodged from her left and rolled to the side, where she proceeded to block a short-lived strike from his Kusanagi blade.

As she was getting up, Sakura was unable to block his attack. A line of blood now cut itself into the flesh shown on her arm. It wasn't necessarily deep, but it wasn't a paper cut.

He was using his speed to his advantage and his amusement. Sakura wasn't exactly a professional on the human psyche, that was Ino's forte, but it almost seemed as if Sasuke was showing off his male dominance by constantly leaving her in the dust. What did he want, a medal? Honestly, men.

After an attack on her stomach that left her reeling in pain, Sakura powered chakra into her arm and punched the ground. The upturning of earth had its desired effect, and Sasuke lost his careful footing. He paused for a moment, coming into eyesight where Sakura could easily see him.

"Stop playing games Uchiha." She bit out. Sakura began stalking towards him, mad enough to spit. "Whether you like it or not, you will eventually be coming back to Konoha. By choice or by force, it's all the same to me." She was a few feet from him. "Just make up your mind quickly. I want to go home."

Sasuke still had the Sharingan activated, and there was a bit of surprise that she—Sakura, of all people—would talk to him in such a way. And then, there was understanding. And then a smirk. He began to circle around her like a predator.

"And why do you want to get home so quickly?"

She did not grace him with an answer.

"Could it be because of…that holiday—oh what is it? Valentine's Day?" He was behind her now, and he leaned in close to her ear. "Could you want to get back to your friends? Your…lover?"

"You have no business talking about my love life."

"Ah but I do." Sasuke said. He backed off from her ear, staying in the same spot, and began twirling a lock of hair around his finger. "As I recall, you declared your undying love for me. It was me who you'd do anything for."

"Don't compare me with the person you used to know. You know nothing about me."

"Then it can also be said that you know nothing about me, Sakura."

Which was probably true.

She sheathed his sword. Sakura, hearing the sliding of metal, turned around quickly, only to find her nose bumping against his naked chest. Flushed, she looked up to meet his eyes before backing away. He had a wicked glint in his eyes. One that she didn't particularly like.

All it took was his hands coming up to make a few seals before Sakura turned and bolted. She made it to an unaffected part of the ground before sliding to a halt. More snakes. Several snakes, some she didn't even recognize. The medic slid a few kunai from her thigh holster when the snakes hissed and came closer.

They launched themselves at her, and Sakura tried not to do the un-ninja-completely-female thing and scream.

Instead, she was stuck fighting off innumerable snakes. She had gotten herself turned around somehow, and gotten a glimpse at Sasuke's face. He looked like he was waiting until this was over, until the snakes bit her or whatever they intended on doing. One hand was on his hip, and he was standing in a relaxed, completely unfazed position.

A rather large rattlesnake knocked her bloody kunai out of her hand. She reached down to get another one, but this seemed to be the exact opening that they were looking for. Two brown colored snakes wrapped around her wrists, effectively restraining them behind her back, and a python coiled itself around her ankles and shins. Now off balance, Sakura fell to the ground with a groan of slight pain.

He was coming towards her now. Slowly. Her heart was pounding furiously in her vulnerable position and she tried to get up. The medic succeeded in getting to her knees when he appeared in front of her. Her breath caught in fear and she froze when he knelt down in front of her, so that they came face to face.

Sasuke's hand came to rest on her throat and Sakura tensed, fearing that he had done so with the intention of breaking her neck. Her fear must have been evident in her eyes, because he gave her a smirk. It wasn't an evil smirk. But a…gentle smirk? Was there such a thing?

Sasuke was making her nervous with those stupid onyx eyes of his. She squirmed a little under his gaze and she could have sworn that his smirk had grown. "I wouldn't move around too much. They will bite you if I give the command." And that sent her all frantic again. Her head was spinning with medicines that would counter snake poison.

He drew his body close to her, and the snakes vanished from her mind at the moment. She flushed as he nearly pressed her body into him. He was feeling around her wrist, snapping Neji's pendant and clan symbol right off of the string.

He backed off and looked at it. "Hyuuga, huh? I would have thought you had better taste than that."

That sent her blushing a shade that would rival the color of the Uchiha's Sharingan. "We're not…I mean…he gave…" She trailed off, figuring it was better to stay quiet than make a fool of herself trying to explain her actions.

"Good. You won't be needing this then." His fist closed around the small metal pendant, crushing it into a blob of nothingness.

"Sasuke!" Sakura yelled, horrified.

He looked at the pendant uncaringly and tossed it over his shoulder. "You're forgetting something."

"Wha—"

"-kun ." He suddenly smashed his lips down on hers.

At first, Sakura couldn't move. But then she felt his arms on her back, pulling her into his deliciously warm chest. Sasuke's movements weren't necessarily aggressive, but they left no question as to who was in charge. At one point, Sakura had to tilt her head a little as he leaned forward. Dangerously, she felt herself responding and her eyes fluttered shut.

His hand moved to the back of her neck, deepening the kiss by sliding his tongue in her mouth. She had always imagined that this kind of kissing to be…gross? Awkward? But she found that it wasn't even close. It was somewhat pleasurable. Her heart was still thrumming. She was, after all, living out her childhood fantasies. Even though Sasuke had been gone for so many years, she found herself giving a little sigh through her nose.

Somehow, the snakes around her limbs disappeared, and Sakura found herself threading her hands through his hair. Bringing them even closer.

All too soon, he pulled back, and watched satisfied as she slowly opened eyes that were glazed over. When had he gotten both of them to stand up? Why was she still standing if her knees felt like jelly?

The reason for this, the medic soon discovered, was that he had placed his arms around her back, holding her tightly to his chest. He nuzzled her cheek when Sakura rested her forehead slightly below his shoulder.

"I missed you, Sasuke…kun."

Said person breathed out heavily, and Sakura felt hot breath on her neck and her back. She shivered again.

"Why won't you come back?"

He kissed her jaw line.

"I know how much you want revenge, but do you want to throw your life away? Give up your body to Orochimaru?"

He wiped away a tear with the pad of his thumb.

"Why won't you come home?" She screamed finally.

He let her stay there, sobbing against his chest, content to let years of heartache come out of her. Sasuke felt his heart tear a little at her crying. It had always pained him to see her cry. It was why he was so protective of her. She was a precious person to him. Always had been since a little after the formation of Team 7. He just didn't know how precious she was until now.

"I had always planned to come back."

Sakura looked up at the sound of his voice.

"He will never take over my body. I will defeat Itachi. And then I'll come…home." He sounded a bit strained at the last word.

"Why won't you come back now? We're looking for Akatsuki. We can helpyou!"

Sasuke shook his head. "I need to do this on my own."

He needed closure. It was the one thing he'd always wanted and if he never got it he may never come back to Konoha.

"I…" Sakura gulped. "Understand." And she put the side of her face against his chest. "Just stay with me for now."

A soft "Hn" was her only answer.


Sakura couldn't tell how long they stayed like that. One moment they were standing, his arms around her, the next they were on a grassy patch with her head on his shoulder. They kissed a few more times, oh boy did they kiss, and Sakura was content.

Sakura looked him in the eye. "I still love you, Sasuke."

Did she feel guilty about lying with a traitor? No, she didn't. To be honest, she and Naruto had never considered him a traitor.

"We need to go, Sakura." He breathed into her ear.

She felt her heart speed up. So soon? She didn't want to ever leave him! Unconsciously, she tightened her grip on him.

"They're going to come looking for you."

Sakura sighed, finally realizing he was right.

They stood up, and this time, Sakura initiated a kiss. It was chaste, but that didn't make it any less passionate.

"When you go back to Konoha. Go to the old Uchiha manor and in the third room on the left, look inside the nightstand beside the bed. There's going to be a blue box. Open it. I want you to have what's inside."

She looked at him slightly confused. He didn't tell her what it was because it would make him stay longer, getting them both into trouble. Inside that box was a ring. His grandmother's wedding ring that was eventually supposed to be given to Sasuke's fiancée. He thought that maybe he should still keep that tradition.

"You will come back, right?"

He nodded slightly. "I need to knock you out and take you back to the village." Her eyes widened, but Sasuke kept going. "It will explain your delay, at least. Just tell them you saw me and we fought." Which was the truth.

He gave her one last kiss, using that as a distraction to the pain when he hit that spot at the back of her neck for the second time in their lifetimes. She collapsed in his arms, but her ears strained to hear his parting words.

Wait for me.

x

x

x

I love you.


Author's Notes: Well I thought it started out pretty nice…and then Sasuke appeared. Then it got blaaaaaarggghhh…Sasuke started to get a little out of character, in my opinion. I may do a rewrite later. Hope it made all of your Valentine's wishes come true. As always, please tell me what you thought.