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Set during the chuunin exams.

Anti – Climax

Sasuke awoke in the middle of the night.

It took him several seconds to identify the reason of this disturbance. Enemies? More of that dark chakra? Another part of the exam?

…no, none of that.


From across the dying embers of their campfire, he could just barely hear the hiccupping sobs of his pink – haired teammate. It was muffled, probably by her bedroll, Sasuke mused, as he could see every spare inch of the pale skin of her calves, up to her night shorts.

He contented himself, while waiting for her to stop crying, with the strenuous task of fighting that annoying blush hovering over his cheekbones.

Stupid, stupid hormones.

Time passed, and even the great task of hormone taming was eventually resolved. Yet still, those hiccups were piercing the still evening.

It was driving Sasuke crazy. Was it just him, or had those sobs gotten infinitely louder? How could the idiot sleep through it? It was like Sakura had hit some unimaginable pitch—those sobs racking her figure were cutting through Sasuke's soul with the force of a thousand katana.

He let out a sigh of exasperation, stood, and soundlessly walked across the clearing, wary of the embers.

In the full moonlight, his shadow was thick, tangent, across her. Sasuke froze there. He towered over her prone frame—forgot time. Sasuke didn't understand it then, but something about staring at her, asleep beneath him, was an image that he never forgot.

Finally, he snapped out of his reverie, having memorized every detail of the moment. Impatient, the young Uchiha knelt near Sakura's bedroll and promptly shook her.

Sakura tensed at the contact. Slowly, she turned and, breathing ragged gasps, saw those midnight eyes she loved so desperately. Her bloodshot, green eyes widened with horror and humiliation. She really was…so weak, wasn't she?


What about that tone made her heart pound so fiercely?

Sasuke was in quite the situation, now. Give in to your whims, and, tada, you're in for it, he told himself harshly. He shouldn't have come over here. It would have been smarter to lob a rock at Sakura and brave her wrath.

Because, he suddenly realized, something about those wide, terrified eyes, really, really made his blood boil and freeze at the same time.

For a fleeting moment, all Sasuke wanted to do was hold her until she stopped crying altogether.

But of course, he'd never tell her that. Not until many, many years and trials had passed; not until a little catalyst known as alcohol entered the picture.

He sank to a more comfortable position, sighing at her expression. "Kunoichi don't cry."

Naturally, her eyes teared more at that truth. Sasuke rolled his eyes, "What's wrong?" He couldn't manage to filter out the possessive undertone; he just hoped she didn't hear it.

Her bottom lip quivered and, impulsively, not, for once, registering that Sasuke was only in his boxers, Sakura flew forward and into his bare chest. Arms wrapped around his neck and her forehead rested in his neck.

Those hot tears were coursing onto his skin, hot and moist, burning as they came in contact with the curse seal.

More in the moment that he was willing to recognize, Sasuke placed his hands on her back, caught between the urge to make someone pay dearly for hurting her, and the instinct to comfort her.

The result was a low, dangerous growl that Sakura felt more than heard as it resonated from deep in his chest. "Are you okay?"

Her hold on his neck tightened, and he felt the warmth continue to slide down his skin. Stupid question—obviously, she wasn't 'okay'.

"Was it those Sound ninjas?"

She shook her head and parted her lips to speak. Sasuke, he just knew she didn't know it, but he could feel her lips open, pressed against his heart. He mentally swore, forcing himself to focus on his hurting teammate; not on the tangible shivers running down his spine, or the irregularity of his pulse, drumming erratically against his ribcage. Sasuke didn't want to think of the implications, of what her one, mindless, action could reduce him to.

Sakura hiccupped, swallowing dryly.


Sasuke tensed, unconsciously tightened his already strong grip on the pinkette.

"My hair—!"

Her voice broke roughly on the last syllable, and she shivered before another wave of grief overflowed from her eyes.

Sasuke's dark eyes widened a moment; his racing heart screeched to a halt.

Then he took a moment to marvel at the sheer stupidity of that anticlimactic moment.

It was just too much. His terrible expectations coupled with her answer. Sasuke couldn't stop it—the low chuckle escaped his mouth before he could quell his mirth.

Sakura tensed, her sobs interrupted by the vibration originating from just above Sasuke's sternum. She stared, incredulous, through thick lashes and blurring tears, into the mirror – esque eyes of the boy she loved.

She saw her own reflection: the blood shot eyes, the bruises, the scrapes, the aforementioned cropped hair. She saw what Sasuke saw.

And, after a moment of spastic uncertainty, giggled hesitantly along with him.

Her cautious laugh bloomed into one of true joy, until once again she was crying. Sasuke's low chuckles had yet to cease, and Sakura found herself enjoying, perhaps too much, the way that rough vibration echoed through her body, so close to his.

Their laughter quieted, though, in its course. Sasuke looked away, reluctantly, from Sakura, and into the heavens. He knew what he'd just done—the emotional knot he'd just tied—and yet, couldn't muster the regret to feel ashamed or embarrassed. This moment, it felt like so much more than what it was; like there was a hidden gate that he didn't have the key to.

Not yet.

He sighed, then looked back at the girl in his lap. She was wiping at her stinging eyes, her face was red, raw from her salty tears. But her eyes were sparkling, in spite of it all.

That sight, that moment, gave Sasuke some measure of courage, some measure of impetuousness.

He ran one of his hands up her back, into her hair, and threaded his fingers through the roseate locks. They were almost insubstantially light, soft as down.

"I like it better this way." He murmured softly.

Sakura never again grew her hair out.


...Sasuke's povs are so fun to write. I hope they're just as fun to read.

Please review; criticism is welcome, so long as it's constructive. No flames, please.

Thank you, chibi neko-dono. Your proof - reads are superbly helpful.