"Sasuke-kun, that's not the right color!" 7-year-old Sakura huffed indignantly, peering over at her fellow classmate's drawing of what looked to be his house. Or what was left of it. Sasuke scowled and clutched the black crayon tighter in his tiny hands, scribbling furiously.
"Yeah, Saku's right. You've been hogging the black crayon for FOREVER," Naruto sighed, never taking his eyes off of his Crayola drawing of a ninja fox. "How's foxy gonna have cool black boots if there isn't any black to begin with?"
"Shut up," Sasuke mumbled. Sakura frowned and, after a few moments, grinned and shoved her drawing in his face.
"Here Sasuke! You can have mine! See? It has a princess and look! There's a prince coming for her at the bottom! I can't draw armor, so he has a green shirt because green is my favorite color!" she squealed, pointing out the various stick characters as she described them in a way that only Sakura could.
As she was talking, a dark shadow passed over his eyes and he stood up, pushing against the table. Sakura blinked in surprise amidst Naruto's frantic "Her favorite color is GREEN?! I thought it was pink!" and the murmurs of excitement from other girls.
He glared down at her and stiffly walked towards the door.
"My brother is coming," he said simply without looking back before exiting.
"Brother...Ichi? No...Itachi!" Sakura reasoned out that the tall, dark teen that always walked home with Sasuke at the end of the day was his big brother, and from various sources, found out that his name was Itachi.
Shaking her head, she turned towards her table only to find that Sasuke had left his black smeared drawing. Grabbing it, she dashed out the door and slammed the front doors to her kindergarten school open.
"Sasuke! Where are you? You left your drawing!" she cried out in a high voice, running towards the playground.
At the center was a large oak tree with massive branches low enough to climb on. Out of breath and exhausted from all the running, Sakura peered up the tree, momentarily enchanted by the sun glistening through the leaves and...Sasuke?
"Sasuke! I found you!" Sakura squealed happily, throwing her hands around the lowest branch. Sasuke watched in partial amusement as this tiny girl attempted to climb to the top. It was easy enough to climb, but at her size, it was a daunting feat.
10 minutes later, shaking, sweating and 15 feet off of the ground, Sakura peered up at where Sasuke was sitting (still above her), watching the horizon with a far off gaze. It was the calmest face she had ever seen him in.
"Sasu...ke...you for..got!" she breathed quietly, holding up the now crumpled picture.
"I don't want it," he stated firmly. Sakura was puzzled. He made it, so how could he not like it? Looking down, something clicked in her head, a thought that she had never considered before.
"Are you afraid of Itachi-kun?" At this question, Sasuke spun leapt from his branch down her hers, a fierce look in his eyes.
"Look girlie! It's none of your business!" he shouted angrily, punching the tree trunk before leaping down. The base of the branch gave out a sickening crunch.
"Sasuke! Help me!" she cried out in horror as it began to tilt downwards. Sasuke stared up at her with dead eyes, not moving. "SASUKE! NARUTO! HEEELP!"
With one final crack, the branch snapped, sending Sakura hurdling through the air. Just before she hit the ground, a pair of arms caught her in mid-air and held her gently.
Cracking open her eyes, they were met with a pair of crimson ones that looked down at her in an unreadable expression.
"...tachi?" she squeaked, suddenly feeling very small against this aloof 13-year-old.
"Sasuke, you foolish brother. You have let hate consume you to the point where you no longer see anymore," he said slowly, addressing the fuming boy. Sasuke mumbled something before running off in a vague direction.
As soon as he was gone, Itachi set Sakura down carefully and looked her over.
"Are you hurt?" he asked in a softer tone of voice, bending down so he could look directly at her. She shook her head vigorously and smiled.
"Nope! I'm fine!" she chirped brightly. Itachi paused before speaking, as if not knowing what to do next.
"Well, just be careful next time," he said, straightening out and turning to walk away. As he did, though, a small hand reached out and grabbed the back of his shirt. He looked back to see Sakura with an unusual fierce look in her aqua eyes.
"Itachi-chan, will you be there for me when I need help later on?" she said solemnly. At this strange request, he frowned and thought about it for a second before smiling down at her with an answer at his lips.
"Of course Sakura." And just like that, he was gone.
"Sasuke! Why?!" Sakura screamed in anguish, stunned in horror. Her whole village, her family, her friends, all...
Amidst the flames that licked against the sides of charcoaled shops and houses was Sasuke, bent over in pain and ecstasy. His shirt was partially torn off, revealing the curse marks that had spread throughout his body.
At the sound of his name, he let out a roar of hatred and spun around to face the only living survivor around him. Sakura choked back sobs of grief. Where was the solemn, loyal, 18-year-old friend she found in him? Was he not part of her team? Didn't he care at all?
"Don't see me like this! I'm ugly! I hate you!" he screamed, pointing a finger accusingly at Sakura. "You made me like this!! I can't be in the future! I care of only the past!"
"Sasuke, no! You had friends here!"
Even though her whole clan was now wiped out, she couldn't help but feel a deep ripping feeling through her stomach as the boy she once knew was wasting away in front of her, unable to control himself.
" No one is my friend," he growled, his tone suddenly low and dangerous. Sakura tensed as he bent down on all fours like a cat ready to lunge. "Especially losers like you." He sprung forward with sudden power, a savage look in his eyes.
Bleeding, Sakura could only cringe and shut her eyes as he advanced on her, praying that her end would come swiftly. Her "death" was only met by a whoosh of air and a dull thump on the ground. She slowly opened her eyes to find Sasuke lifeless at her feet, a simple dagger embedded into his ribcage. Standing above her was none other than the infamous Itachi.
"Sakura," he said slowly, nodding his head. When he noticed her gaze on Sasuke, he let out a long suppressed sigh. "There was nothing we could do. It was better for him anyway."
"I know," she whispered. As she turned around, she was horrified to see him walking away from her. "Wait, Itachi!" Catching up with him, she grabbed his black cloak, forcing him to stop. "Take me with you."
"Absolutely out of the question," he said firmly. When he turned to face her, he was met with Sakura's determined expression. It was that same look that melted his heart before.
"I don't have anyone back there. You're the last person I have, my last friend," she said softly, her grip loosening. Itachi said nothing and started walking away again. With a soft cry of defeat, she sank down to her knees as the tears started falling again. To her surprise, he looked back at her with a smile.
"Sakura, what are you waiting for? Let's go home."
With an ecstatic grin she leapt to her feet to grab his hand.