As Sasuke watches her, Sakura remembers. She remembers the day he returned to Konoha. She remembers the way everyone seemed to think that she'd just accept him back into her heart.
Catching the solemn, regal figure he makes from the corner of her eye sends a cascade of memories pouring past her mind's eye.
She remembers the boy she fell for when the world was still rosy. She remembers the day his world crashed down around him. She remembers the day he left her on a bench with a few whispered words. She remembers the day he walked back into her life.
The tragic picture he paints no longer pulls her heartstrings, no longer inspires her tears. She feels instead a curious numbness. It's as if all her emotion for him was spent, leaving her neutral. Sakura is at peace with the development for six months.
A stray rumor changes her fate. She's standing in the market when the conversation of the woman to her left reaches her ears. A middle-aged matron (civilian she notes without thinking) is preening and retelling a story to the sales clerk. Sakura chokes on a sound when the woman declares that her daughter is 'going to be the next Uchiha matriarch.' She is ready to dismiss the ordeal as a lie until she hears details, descriptions of the compound that most would not--should not know.
Emotions that burn are rupturing and expanding and blistering her insides. The tomato in her hand begins to seep as her grip tightens, as she stares at the fruit she can't help but feel slighted. It seems that fate set out to make her life an ironic mess. A chakra-enhanced leap frees her of the press of people around her that has so suddenly become stifling.
Hours later, as she sits a top a tall building, she feels a hundred and one things rushing back to her heart and mind that she thought she'd left behind forever. The influx of care that really, if she's honest with herself, never left makes her want to laugh until she is sensation-less again. She just can't bury him deep enough to forget.
She can't change it, but she can resent him for it. For being everything she's ever admired or wanted or loved.
When Tsunade pushes Sasuke back into Team Seven she spars only with Sai and Naruto. She pretends that her original teammate is not there at all, ignoring his very existence. If they must interact, she is never rude or brisk. Instead she is flatly neutral, and she knows it cuts deeper than anger. She knows that Sasuke can handle negative emotions, he deals in them oh so well. What he cannot understand is her expressionlessness.
She feels vindicated when she hears the sound of glass breaking as she walks from the Uchiha compound.
A routine check on a set bone went smoothly despite his efforts at subtle kindness. Gentlemanly habits that were never so apparent before were slowly eating away at her resolve. It is the arrival of a young, pretty girl in a revealing kimono that ends the appointment early for Sakura.
A face with a perfectly symmetrical beauty displays a poorly rehearsed imitation of shock after she slinks into the room, calling for 'Sasuke-kun.' Her half-smirking apologies do nothing to disrupt the cheery smile frozen to Sakura's lips. She calmly excuses herself, despite Sasuke's attempts at explanation, inviting him to come by the hospital when he is less occupied. She is sure that it is the fact that she speaks without any underlying hurt or anger that makes him shatter the first thing he sees once she is gone.
Sasuke doesn't know that she will spend the next four hours obliterating boulders to vent a jealous rage that she could hardly conceal.
Naruto is loudly discussing the story of a 'conniving maid' who'd tried to 'lure Sasuke without avail' to Kakashi at their next training session. The obviously staged attempt is less than subtle but still sends a cool relief skating down her spine. The reaction only makes her more determined to continue as she has so far.
An A-class mission in the River Country turns her fate again.
Sakura has always hated the cold. Her body yields to the freezing temperatures almost as soon as they cross the border into the frozen, wind-swept lands. It is all she can do to suppress her shivering until she is alone, gathering fire wood.
As she digs for branches dry enough to burn, she tries to ignore the chill creeping in through her gloves. She reroutes a bit of chakra to her fingertips to keep them from becoming clumsy with numbness. Carefully, she tucks her long hair around her face to block the crosswind from her ears and cheeks. A stray lock flutters away from her and trails out to its full length.
She'd grown it back to its waist length out of what she convinced Ino was habit, but she knew was spite. She hated that it symbolized the sacrifices she'd made for the boy who'd walked away her--from Konoha. So she let her pink hair grow and grow until it was nearly longer than it had been before the Forest of Death. It made her proud that she'd kept true to the girly nature she was once so infamous for and still become strong.
Stumbling back to their designated campsite, she steels her limbs to stay their shaking. She will not be weak anymore.
Sasuke is waiting for her at the break in the treeline and has to keep his hands from lingering as he drops his heavy cloak onto her shoulders. As he leaps back into the branches above, he clears the surrounding snow from his post. He is watching her carefully as she pauses for a moment in thought before clasping her thin fingers over the edges and pulling it more snugly around herself. Sakura cannot know what the sight of the Uchiha fan displayed across her back does to him.
It is wintertime in the River Country when Sasuke allows himself to hope.
This is the last installment in this double-shot. I'll be back to posting Cyberpunk! fics for a while now, as well as a new cannon drabble collection. Thank you for reading and please review:3