Disclaimer: Do I really need to write one? It's so obvious I don't own the Naruto brand, including characters and concepts. That all belongs to Masashi Kishimoto and I'm not making any form of currency out of writing a mini story based on his genius work. Believe it! XD
This is my first time ever that is EVER, writing Naruto, so go easy on me everybody. This is a SasuSaku implied oneshot, although it is supposed to remain in character. What inspired me to write it was the amazing story 'Color Theory', by the great writer BlueGreenApples. You'll find the link to the story in my profile page, under favourite stories. I highly recommend SasuSaku fans read it. It is incredibly in character and wonderful, and I am totally hooked. Thanks so much BlueGreenApples, for giving me permission to write this oneshot spin-off from your story. You're a far superior Naruto writer to me so I just hope I can do your work justice here XD. To everybody else, it'll help if you read (and review) the first two chapters of 'Color Theory' first (and then the rest XD), just to get an idea of the context my oneshot borrows from. That's all I've got to explain, so I hope everyone will enjoy reading this, although it is rather long for a oneshot. Lol.
''If you run, I will hunt you down.'' – Uchiha Sasuke
Chapter II, Color Theory
Haruno Sakura tore through the forest undergrowth, making sure to use her surroundings to her maximum advantage. She didn't think she had ever run so fast in her entire life. But then, she had never needed to run like this before.
She spotted a raised rock in the path ahead of her and leapt forward; stepping onto it and using the temporary boost of momentum it provided her to drive her body at an even faster pace.
The air was cool around her and the dark clouds in the midnight sky above were drizzling light rain. But she paid the weather no heed. She had far more important things to worry about. Like the certain nukenin she knew was giving chase somewhere close behind her.
She couldn't hear him, and yet she knew he was coming. He moved so swiftly, so silently, and with such devastating precision. Like a hawk.
He had said that if she tried to run, he would hunt her down. He had told her not to test him. She didn't know what had compelled her to try to escape. Perhaps it was the sheer desperation to get away, not only because she could not betray her beloved village of Konoha and all the important people to her who lived there, but also because she simply had to get away. She had to get away from him. She had to get as far away as she could from Uchiha Sasuke.
He had threatened that if she tried to run, he would not to be so lenient on Naruto the next time they met. Sakura had decided to take her chances. She couldn't let him bully her into betraying Naruto. Surely with Kakashi, Yamato, Team 8, or any other team to back Naruto up, Sasuke could not hurt him. She needed to believe that. As she raced over a fallen tree branch on the rough, twig-laden, gravely ground, she told herself that she had to believe it, to dispel any possible guilt. Sasuke would attack Naruto anyway, which was why she had to escape. She knew it was what Naruto, Kakashi, Tsunade, and all the other people who cared for her back home, would want her to do. And so, shortly after Hebi had paused for a brief break in their travelling, and Sasuke had disappeared into the dense thicket of the forest to survey their surroundings, she had slunk quietly off into the night, and when she was sure that neither an arguing Karin and Suigetsu nor the silent Juugo had spotted her, she had raced away from the camp and away from him.
The pink haired kunoichi reasoned she could move faster if she took to the trees. In one swift and fluid motion she ran to the nearest tree to her right and jumped, kicking her right foot against the trunk and simultaneously using the momentum to propel her slender, light form up onto its lowest branch. From there, she jumped to higher ones, making sure to keep to the thicker, concealed spots. The rain was starting to fall more steadily but still she ignored it. She was moving in what she hoped was the direction of the last town that they had briefly stopped at to stock up supplies.
Jumping to another tree, she narrowly avoided a sharp, broken branch that had been hidden from view behind a thick canopy of leaves. Her senses were painfully aware, as she tried her best to keep her chakra as undetectable as possible, and to detect the relative distance of Sasuke's overpowering chakra.
It was then that she heard it; the softest, slightest sound of the rustle of leaves moving in the wind close behind her. The intensity of her reaction was a surprise to her own senses; her heart leapt violently in her chest as her stomach simultaneously plummeted.
She knew it had not been the wind that had caused the leaves to shift. But if she panicked now, she might as well stop and simply surrender. She was stronger now, and now was her time to prove it to him. She wasn't the weak, helpless little girl who would freeze up at the first sign of danger anymore. And she would make sure that Sasuke realised it too.
Don't think about him, just try to put as much distance between you as you can, don't think! She told herself, pushing her feet off another branch and onto the next tree. She knew there was no way she could confuse him by creating a clone of herself; his Sharingan would see right through it. She also knew she couldn't move any faster than she already was, so her only hope was to try to slow him down and lose him between the trees. And in order to lose him, she needed to create as much chaos in their surroundings as possible.
An idea quickly formed in her intelligent mind. Swiftly, she dove to a lower branch and focused chakra flow into her left leg. She kicked back hard against the branch as she leapt from it, and with an awful creaking, splintering sound, the large bulk of wood was snapped from the main body of the tree and, she hoped, straight into the pursuing Sasuke's path.
His eyes narrowed at the incoming object that was hurtling toward him. So she was going to do more than just run away. As he reached behind his waist and unsheathed the Kusanagi blade he always carried, a cold, faint, ghost of a smirk touched one corner of his lips. Good. Maybe she would make this little game of Chase more interesting, and worth the time he was taking out to stop her.
He cut the branch cleanly in half, losing neither momentum nor speed as he landed on the tree behind the one she was currently leaping from and continued to follow after her, Sharingan fully activated. She was taking every route available to her to lose him in the trees; low branches, higher up ones, moving from left to right. He had to give her some silent credit for the strategy she was using, and the fact that she hadn't used a clone yet. But he reminded himself that a thirteen year old Sakura would have resorted to such basic forms of defence. The Sakura he was tailing after was older, smarter and as he also perceived, significantly faster and more confident in her movements.
But that didn't mean he couldn't predict what she would do next. And he wasn't one who liked to have his patience tested.
Two larger branches were sent back at him. He dodged the first easily and the second was cut clean through again; his eyes marginally widened at what Sakura sent back at him next. She had dove to lower ground and disconnected a heavy log shaped stump from a disfigured tree. With a shout she threw it at him. It hurtled toward Sasuke, with such force that he could hear the physicality of its movement as it propelled, whizzing, through the air. He had no time to dodge such a large object. It was large enough to block his view of Sakura for a few slight seconds. He could not believe that he needed to resort to charging his blade with Chidori Nagashi to dispel the huge stump that she had thrown right into his path. For such a slight, delicate looking girl, she clearly packed one hell of a punch. As he cut the stump with the crackling, charged blade, his eyes darted across the area before him.
He could no longer see or hear Sakura.
The rain was now beginning to pour, and he briefly wondered if she had chosen to take to the ground. He continued to jump from tree to tree, keen eyes scanning the surroundings like a bird of prey. He expected her to keep running, and this assumption almost cost him. As he landed on the branch of another tree, he barely avoided the chakra charged fist that suddenly swung out to meet him from around the corner of the tree trunk. Only his lightening fast reflexes and sheer speed saved him from being painfully smashed back into the tree behind him and to the ground far below. He ducked under the punch, avoiding it by mere inches, and skidded to an abrupt stop on the branch, regaining his balance instantly. His eyes had barely stopped on her face but Sakura didn't hesitate. With an angry yell she smashed a fist into the space between them. The unfortunate branch instantly splintered and fell apart and Sasuke felt himself falling along with the wooden ruins. For good measure, Sakura sent another large, sharp branch after him. Sasuke cursed as he was forced to the floor of the forest. His eyes locked onto Sakura's form; she had already taken off again.
For a brief moment, he merely stood looking up toward the tree tops, absorbing the display of skill she had just given him. It clashed harshly with the image of the Sakura he had known back in their Team 7 days.
Well this was interesting. He hadn't quite realised the extent of her strength and growth, and that made her a rather unpredictable opponent. He had failed to anticipate a direct attack. As he took to the trees again and followed after her, he told himself he would not make the same mistake in the future.
His eyes found her again. Many more objects were thrown back in his path, and as he cut and dodged through them, he decided that he had had enough of this game. It was time for him to step up a gear. In a blur of movement untraceable to the human eye, he swiftly closed the distance between them. She was running along the length of a long branch when he somersaulted up from a lower one, meeting her at the end, effectively cutting off her path. He stood, sword at the ready, in a casual, arrogant manner that told Sakura that she was a fool for ever thinking she could outrun him.
Sakura couldn't hide the shock from registering on her face. Just seconds ago she had forced him to lower ground. When had he...? How had he...? His sudden appearance startled her and she stumbled to a clumsy stop, barely managing to keep from falling off the branch entirely. Her eyes fixed on the hand that held his Kusanagi blade. She couldn't look him in the eye. She knew that his Sharingan was activated. She had to remember her training. She couldn't get overwhelmed just because it happened to be Sasuke blocking her path. She couldn't get overwhelmed just because it was pouring and she happened to be alone with Uchiha Sasuke, with nobody around to assist her.
When his smooth, quiet, yet authoritative voice addressed her in that cold and emotionless monotone, her already pounding heart constricted unexpectedly.
'I see you have some knowledge of fighting against the Sharingan.'
She didn't dare reply. She found that she couldn't. She merely stood, frozen to the spot like a mouse before a hawk, giving no indication of what she would do next.
His voice came to her again. She told herself as she suppressed a shiver that she was merely cold from the rain drenched clothes she was in.
'I told you that if you run, I will hunt you.'
She swallowed, still making sure to keep her gaze on his hands. Summoning her courage, she replied in a voice that started hushed and rose shrilly and sharply at the last word:
'And I told you...I will not betray Konoha!'
As she uttered the name of her village she moved again, focusing chakra into her feet to crush the branch as she leapt from it. Sasuke somersaulted away from it and kicked back against the neighbouring tree. Sakura didn't relent; she slammed a fist up under the branch he had landed on and he was forced to jump high into the air. He whipped his sword in front of him as gravity pulled him down into descent. Sakura's apple green eyes widened as she saw the pin-point of his blade glimmer from the reflection of moonlight. He was descending with the intention to impale her.
At least that was what she thought. Unbeknown to her, Sasuke had adopted the position to throw her off guard. As she jumped away, his eyes narrowed in satisfaction. Now. He had her. In a flash he disappeared, and Sakura, still suspended in mid-air, twisted her head, frantically trying to locate the Uchiha, trying desperately to anticipate where he would appear. She detected chakra to her right, directly behind her, and as she twisted to slam a fist at the incoming threat, she was shocked to find that he had already gone. The realisation of the pure, sheer speed at which he moved hit her like a thunderbolt and left her breathless.
The low murmur in her left ear forced a choked gasp to escape her lips. She hadn't even registered his presence behind her. She knew that if she turned and tried to hit him he would simply avoid it and that would leave her open to being stabbed by the Kusanagi sword. Panic finally seized her as she realised that there was nowhere for her to move. They were suspended in mid-air and there was no tree ahead of her or to her right to jump to; Sasuke was blocking off any movement back or to the left.
As lightning lit up the sky, she could feel herself losing momentum and falling. She did not have time to comprehend what happened next, as cool, strong fingers closed firmly around her left arm. She had never moved so fast in her life, because it was not by her own movement that she found herself thrown back against the body of a tree. Sasuke had transported them to another branch, and for a moment, she sat sprawled back, dazed, both from the force at which she had been hurtled and the speed at which Sasuke had moved them both from mid-air to solid ground.
A frightening speed. An exhilarating speed. The undeniable thrill she had received from flying so fast was instantly crushed the second Sasuke had released her from his grip and shoved her away as if she were a weightless rag doll. Her giddy vision cleared to find him towering before her, silent, eyes fixed on her. She felt the cool, sharp tip of his blade press against her throat. Another crack of lightning illuminated the sky behind him.
For a moment, there was silence between them. As she sat, breathing heavily against the wide trunk of the tree, she knew it was over. There was no way she could have outrun him. She had known it all along yet still, stupidly, had attempted a mad grasp at breaking free.
'I won't tell you again.' He said at length. 'You travel with Hebi. You have no choice.'
The mixture of despair and hysteria at the knowledge that she was really being forced to betray her village and that there was no way out for her made a small, rather sharp giggle escape from her soft pink lips. The irony was too much to bear. Only a few years ago she would have given anything to go anywhere with Sasuke; who would have thought that only three years later, he would be the one having to force an unwilling Sakura to travel with him?
Sasuke didn't blink at the sight of her giggling oddly. Instead he applied more pressure against the delicate, creamy skin of her throat, demanding in the same monotone voice:
'What's so funny?'
Sakura was unfazed by the increase in pressure against her skin. Suddenly she didn't feel so tense. She was still afraid; she knew she would always be, but she allowed her muscles to relax as she turned her face up to him, grinning, eyes shut tight in a smile that struck Sasuke with a terrible sense of déjà vu. How many times had she given him that same smile back in their Genin days? The nostalgic atmosphere was further emphasised by the tone of voice she used at that moment; the same carefree, bright, kind tone she always used to use with him. He had not heard it in years.
'Sasuke-kun, you say you broke your bonds with us and left us behind, but look, here we are together again. All we need now is Kakashi-sensei and Naruto and-'
At this Sasuke abruptly drew his sword away from her and stabbed it into the wood in front of him, just inches away from her feet. Crouching down before her and resting back on his heels, he met her gaze evenly. She didn't bother avoiding it anymore. There was no point. Both the intensity of his blood red gaze and the sudden action caused her words to fade away. For a moment they simply stared at each other in silence. Sakura didn't know if it was for a few seconds or a few minutes. It could have been hours. Time seemed to stop and all she could hear was the rushing blood in her ears being circulated by her racing heart. She vaguely wondered if his Sharingan eyes could detect the throbbing pulse of her throat.
His face was as blank as ever. So cold, so unfeeling. And yet, so devastatingly handsome, his chiselled, finely sculpted features so distant, so proud. So Uchiha.
He finally broke the silence, voice as quiet as ever, yet she could hear him perfectly over the sound of rainfall.
'Those days are long gone. That pathetic team no longer exists. You and Naruto...' He detected the slight flinch in her expression as he uttered the blonde boy's name; '...should give up.'
He called their team pathetic. They had gone so far for him, and this is what he thought? The situation filled her with a sudden sense of overwhelming sadness. How had it all come down to this? It seemed that not much had changed between them after all. How many times in the past had they looked each other in the eyes like this? How many times in the past had she offered kind words, or words of comfort and concern, only to have them rebuffed in her face? Anger and frustration surged above the misery she felt and he must have detected it in her eyes, for he raised a hand and placed it on the hilt of his sword beside him in warning.
'Don't push me, Sakura. I am not willing to play chase again.'
Again, the irony struck her as almost funny. Who was chasing after whom now? She tore her eyes away from his with great difficulty. This was the largest amount of attention Sasuke had ever given her in all her years of knowing him. And only because she was a tool he didn't want to lose. Not a person. Not a former team-mate. Not a friend. Just a tool.
She swallowed, and when she spoke, she found that she couldn't muster the anger that had surged through her veins just moments earlier. Her voice was soft, almost a whisper.
'You're wrong, Sasuke-kun.'
He raised a sardonic eyebrow slightly at this. Haruno Sakura always used to hang on his every word. Now she was telling him he was wrong? He could definitely appreciate how much she had changed.
'Team 7 still exists. And it'll always exist. It's just waiting...it's...' She suddenly found it hard to carry on with such an emotional subject under the weight of his heavy, silent gaze. Swallowing back the tears that stung at her eyes, she berated herself for allowing any weakness to show through. She was no longer weak, damn it! She would not cry.
'It's just waiting to be complete again.' Her eyes moved back to his and she allowed his cold stare to consume all of her attention. The anger finally began to seep through and her voice rose as she continued, 'It's waiting for its third member to...to stop being so...so selfish and blinded by a meaningless quest for revenge-!' Her breath caught in her throat as she felt the cool, pointed end of a kunai dig ruthlessly into the vulnerable skin under her chin. His left hand now rested on the tree trunk beside her. She hadn't even seen him move.
An awful, deafening silence filled the air as she stared dully into eyes full of so much hate that it physically pained her. She kept telling herself that he couldn't mean it, but deep inside of her she knew that Sasuke had always hated her. She swallowed with great difficulty.
'You know nothing.' He hissed, Sharingan eyes flaring brightly in the darkness. Thunder roared overhead and his face was so close to her own that for a moment she couldn't think; couldn't see anything except his eyes.
She decided not to tell him that she actually knew more than he thought. She had researched into the history of his clan after he had left Konoha. But he didn't need to know. It wouldn't change what he thought of her.
Swallowing again, uncomfortable at how close their bodies were, Sakura finally looked away, ignoring the sharp pain under her skin. Taking a deep breath she summoned all her courage to defy him once more.
'I...I would rather die than betray my village!' She made sure to emphasise the last two words, hoping against hope that it would inspire at least a fraction of guilt in his unfeeling heart. Her resolve finally snapped and she squeezed her eyes shut, snapping in a raised voice, 'So do it already Sasuke-kun! I don't mean anything, so kill me! You've already cut your bonds, so just finish the job! You can get another medic-nin...if it's so easy, then why don't you just-ah!' She was cut off as the kunai dug even more ruthlessly into her skin. Sasuke forced her to tilt her head back at an impossibly uncomfortable angle and her eyes opened from the pain to a sight that almost made her choke out loud.
The tip of his aristocratic nose was practically almost touching the bridge of her small, rounded one; mere inches away, far too close for her to deal with. His eyes captured hers once more and bore into them, piercing through, seeing the fear, the alarm, and another unspoken emotion. Sakura had never been so close to Sasuke in this way before. It unnerved and unsettled her beyond anything. She looked down for a moment, involuntarily, to see his proud, wilful lips set in a grim line. The glance didn't escape Sasuke's notice. But he seemed to her very unfazed, as if this close proximity between them was nothing out of the ordinary. He thought nothing of it because his heart was cold and empty. Sakura wished at that very moment that her heart could also be cold and empty. Then it would not be constricting in such a painful manner, it would not hurt in this aching, torturous way. Although her face betrayed no sign of her inner pain, Sakura was finding it increasingly difficult to breathe with Sasuke so close.
She was finding it increasingly difficult to think with the sight she saw before her; his hair was damp from the rain and strands fell messily over his eyes. Droplets of water were running tantalisingly slowly along his skin, down his throat, down his chest. Sakura gulped. His clothes were sticking against him, and she knew her own drenched ones were doing the same against her own body. These were things her younger self would have never noticed. The tension was unbearable for her now, but he didn't seem to feel or even notice it. His eyes were so cold.
This wasn't the same Sasuke she had known in her Genin days. This wasn't the same Sasuke she had professed her love to; it was not the same Sasuke who had thanked her before leaving her unconscious on the bench in Konoha.
Sasuke-kun...Sakura thought, a part of her lamenting something long gone. Oh Sasuke-kun, what has happened to you?
She could not deny that he intimidated her. But she wouldn't...she would not let him see it.
'Ah.' He agreed at length, voice flat and empty. 'You're right. I could get any medic-nin.' He seemed to inspect her for a moment, before continuing, 'But I don't want any other medic-nin. As weak as you otherwise still are, I want you because your level of medical skills is proficient and necessary for what is to come.'
He wanted her. He hadn't even paused when saying it; it had been uttered dead-pan, and she knew that there could not be a double-meaning behind the expression. Sasuke didn't do puns; he only ever said exactly what he thought. And yet, Sakura's heart refused to listen to what sense her mind screamed at her. Sasuke wanted her. Nobody else. She was still weak, but she was proficient and necessary. The uncompromising contradiction she found in his words made her head spin in confusion.
She suddenly felt physically sick. It didn't help that for another length of immeasurable time, as silence reigned once again between them, Sasuke made no move to pull away. His intense eyes were fixed on hers. As if trying to read something – something that was taking all of Sakura's will power and energy to keep concealed and buried.
The Sharingan finally receded and faded away, and she found herself looking into bottomless and very familiar black eyes. It took every part of her being to resist the urge to give into tears at that precise moment. The memories that came flooding back to her as she stared into the unreadable orbs were overwhelming. Those eyes simply belonged to Sasuke; the memory of the old Sasuke to which she and Naruto so desperately clung. Not a cursed Uchiha.
Finally, after what seemed to Sakura like an eternity of staring at each other in silence, Sasuke swiftly pulled away from her with a nonchalance that suggested absolutely nothing out of the ordinary had happened between them. He stood, freeing his Kusanagi from where it had been embedded in the branch. Replacing it in its sheath, he turned his back to her and quipped flatly:
'We return to the camp.'
He walked a few steps away before pausing, moving his head slightly to the left to not quite look back at her over his shoulder. In a tone of voice which carried an unmistakeably threatening undertone, he added:
'Don't make me force you, Sakura.'
As he jumped off the tree and back to the ground below, Sakura was left to consider the irony of his statement. But he was forcing her. Forcing her to go back to camp, forcing her to travel with him, forcing her to betray Konoha, forcing her to betray Naruto, Kakashi, Tsunade, Ino-Pig, her parents, all her other friends. Everybody she loved. She would have been furious at the selfishness of what he was making her do, but she realised she had no right to be. She couldn't deny the truth. Even if she had somehow miraculously managed to reach the outskirts of the forest and the safety of the nearest village, she would not have ventured into it. Because then she would have been leaving Sasuke, when it had taken her so long to find him again. She knew she could not have walked away.
She wasn't aware however, that Sasuke knew it too.
As she slowly made her way down from the tree and followed after his tall form, she felt strangely detached and utterly drained and defeated. Her mind was suddenly empty. She reminded herself again that she was still just Team Seven's kunoichi tag-along.
He didn't look back to check if she was following. He did not need to. Sasuke knew that she was. After all, Haruno Sakura always did.
I am painfully aware of just how mammoth sized this coughcough 'oneshot' is. It wasn't meant to be but like a box of Pringles, once I pop I just can't stop so to speak XD; Anyways I hope this was ok. Not too OOC or anything! I was trying to make Sasuke a mix of intimidating and ambiguous. I hope I pulled it off. Remember this is my first Naruto fic ever so have mercy. BlueGreenApples, thank you so much again for giving me permission to write this and for inspiring me to begin with. For everyone else reading this, remember this isn't actually a part of BGAs' story; she'd write this scene much better than me anyways XD. I just hope I haven't embarrassed the awesomeness of her work too much here lol. Thanks for reading and please review for me! I'm curious to see what people think of my first piece of Naruto and SasuSaku writing. Thanks for reading and remember folks, SasuSaku rules!