Final chapter - in '08! I DID IT! Thanks to everyone who read this fic, and hooray for anyone who has seen the wonderful and amazing and perfection that is KibaSaku. I'll probably be back with these two sometime soon (it's in the planning stages), and I hope some of you might check it out. Until then, enjoy the last chapter!
A few things: (1) past chapters have been primarily told from Kiba's perspective. This one takes a shift. And yes, I had to state that. idk why, either; (2) the line "Love me. Feed me. Never leave me." is from Garfield. I don't own; (3) as always, I love good concrit for my final chapter. What did you like about this fic? What didn't you like? I doubt I'll be writing something like this again, but any comments would help; and (4) I don't know if anyone could tell, but those notes in italics at the end of every chapter are written by Kiba, sometime in the future after this fic ends. Yeah.
And on a final, unrelated note – this is my only place to pimp it right now, so guys, check out Epic ADD's fic, Spice Jam! It's a collab between me, the blanket, and Queen Pina (psh, she wishes), and it's quite possibly going to be the crackiest fic to hit ffnet since ever. It's not a KibaSaku officially, but come on, guys. Have a little faith in me. ;)
Also, despite all my mocking, I love fairy tales. With a passion. Cinderella owns my soul.
If nothing else,
Always go out with a bang.
"Can we talk?"
Sakura took a breath and glanced around the foyer. Where was Kiba—?
She looked back at Sasuke. He was waiting patiently for her answer, so she stepped up beside him, feeling the familiar comfort and peace welling up inside her. He led her up the stairs to an empty bedroom – Lee's, judging by the bright green furnishings.
Even when she took a seat on the bed and he leaned against the closed door, arms folded across his chest, he stayed silent, watching her carefully.
Sakura tried to smile. "Funny, you're not usually the one who wants to talk."
Sasuke didn't look amused. "You've been avoiding me."
Sakura shifted uneasily on the bed. She didn't know what to say. Luckily, Sasuke went on:
"I know you're trying to get over me. I'm glad. Kiba's… not ideal, but at least he treats you right." He paused, dark eyes probing. "He does treat you well, right?"
Sakura didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She settled for nodding mutely. Then she licked her lips and said, "How—why—I'm lost."
Sasuke moved to sit beside her on the bed, careful to not touch her. "Sakura, I've been looking out for you since we were kids, trying to make you happy. I know what's right for you, maybe better than you do yourself." He was quiet for a moment, letting her digest this piece of information, before continuing: "I know you've liked me since we were little, just as much as you know I've never returned the feelings."
It was true that she had always known her feelings were unrequited, but it still hurt to hear him say it. To his credit, even Sasuke's eyes were pinched, troubled by the pain he knew he was inflicting on her.
"I want what's best for you," he went on in a softer voice, turning to look straight at her. She met his gaze head-on, swallowing past the quickly-forming lump in her throat. "And I thought Kiba was it."
No, she wanted to say. You're best. You always have been. Instead, she just shook her head, managing a weak, sarcastic laugh. "Are you kidding me, Sasuke?" She rolled her eyes. "He's a complete flirt! He'll drop me in a week."
"Seems like he's pretty loyal to me," Sasuke said casually, though he had to know how heavy his words were. Loyal. That was all Sakura wanted.
Still, Kiba was the furthest thing from loyal, as much as he was starting to grow on her. It was only a matter of time before he found another girl. That was just how Kiba was.
"But that isn't what I wanted to talk to you about," Sasuke said. Sakura looked at him. He wouldn't meet her gaze, and her heart sunk.
Then Sasuke did something he had never done before. He put his hand over hers. It was cold against her skin – or maybe the chill was inside of her. Because for Sasuke to initiate any sort of physical contact could only mean he was trying to soften the blow he was about to deliver to her heart.
"I don't want you to avoid me," Sasuke said slowly, "Just because I'm not in love with you."
Sakura was quiet, stunned. How could he say that to her? Why would she avoid Sasuke—
But then, she had been avoiding Sasuke, she realized. Somehow, her relationship with Kiba had always felt temporary, and not necessarily because of him and his skirt-chasing ways. No, it had been because of her. Sakura didn't think she could stay away from Sasuke for long – had never really thought it necessary. He was all she needed.
But he wouldn't let her stay with him.
She had to clench her hands in the forest green bedspread under her to distract herself from her rising panic. Sasuke had been her whole world for so long. She had centered her entire life around him, from the moment he led her out of her own house by the hand, carrying her bags over his shoulders. She still remembered how he sat by her bedside as she cried herself to sleep that first night, and how he had been by her side since.
Sakura didn't want to leave his side. She was too scared to.
She had stayed silent for too long, staring unseeingly down at her denim-clad knees. Sasuke spoke up again: "One day, you're going to get married." His voice was gentle. "And it probably won't be to me. That doesn't mean I won't be in your life."
And that was all it took for her to fall into his arms, barely biting back tears.
"You're not staying for the rest of the party?"
Sasuke shook his head, getting to his feet. "I don't like them."
Of course. He had only ever stayed for her, and Sakura didn't need him now – not when she had Kiba. Or so he thought, anyway. But she didn't pressure Sasuke to stay. His entire speech had been equivalent to one whole month's worth of conversation for him – she couldn't really expect any more from him.
And Sakura wanted him to leave before he saw her cry.
After all, Sasuke was right. Kiba was a good guy. Kiba was funny and charming and sweet…
She repeated this thought, like a mantra, as she headed downstairs, Sasuke behind her, and headed for the living room.
Sakura scanned the room for Kiba. He wasn't by the refreshments, he wasn't dancing, he was – there! At the dining table, playing cards.
Sakura began to approach the table, then froze. She barely registered Sasuke coming up behind her, or Hinata staring up at her from her seat beside Naruto. Her eyes were on the spiky-haired blonde sitting beside Kiba. She was laughing, and so was he, their heads tilted together over a hand of cards. That hadn't taken him long at all – not that she was very surprised.
Sasuke's presence was warm and steady behind her. He said: "Naruto, I'm leaving."
Naruto glanced up from his own hand of cards at his best friend's voice, prompting Kiba to look up as well, pulling away from the blonde. When he saw Sakura, he broke into a grin and rose from his chair.
"Hey, you," he said, pulling her to him. "Everything cool?"
Sakura's gaze flicked to the blonde involuntarily. Kiba, as usual, didn't miss a thing, and his grin only widened. "You wander off for twenty minutes from another guy – into a bedroom, too – and you're jealous over me playing cards with a girl?" He shook his head. "What am I going to do with you?"
"Love me. Feed me. Never leave me," she said automatically. If Kiba noticed the way her voice broke on the last word, he didn't show it.
Naruto finally tossed down his cards ("This game is rigged!") and approached them. He looked Sakura over, blue eyes serious, then turned to Sasuke. "Why don't you stay?"
"I have a paper to write," Sasuke said. Sakura turned to look at him. His keys were already in his hand, and she felt her heart clench. He was about to walk out the door and out of her life. True, he would always be by her side– they were best friends – but there was no hope for the future she wanted anymore. And just because she had agreed to it, just because she understood it, didn't mean she was okay with it.
Naruto clapped Sasuke on the back with a "See ya," and nothing more, headed back to the table and his game, and Sasuke nodded at Kiba, his gaze lingering on Sakura for an extra beat, before he turned. Sakura watched him go until he was out of her sight, and a little longer after that. Kiba stood silently by her side for a long moment, until Naruto called out to them.
Sakura snapped out of her reverie and tried to turn towards Naruto, but Kiba's grip was tight around her.
"Naruto called Sasuke here. He told me to let you guys talk, so I thought I should leave you alone." Sakura didn't reply. "Are you okay?" he murmured, leaning close. Sakura blinked, confused – and then realized, too late, the tears slipping down her cheeks.
"No," she whispered. Kiba squeezed her shoulder and turned to look at Naruto. "In a minute," he called. "Temari, win me money."
Temari – presumably the blonde that had been sharing Kiba's cards – must have nodded, because Kiba was soon leading them back through the living room and kitchen, and into the foyer. He made for the stairs, but Sakura didn't want to revisit that scene just yet, and she resisted. Kiba didn't press her, and led her instead through the front door, down the porch steps, and into the open, chilly night.
They were quiet for a moment, breathing in the brisk air. Then, Kiba turned to her. His face was cast in shadow, but the tumble of spiky brunette locks was dark in the moonlight, as was the shape of his face, the outline of his broad shoulders. Kiba was attractive, there was no doubt about that. There never had been. It had been his personality that had been the problem – that, and Sakura's own stubbornness.
"So, Naruto asked Hinata to the party. I don't think he's really noticed her yet," Kiba said. Sakura nodded wordlessly.
Kiba sighed. His hand was light on her shoulder, thumb stroking soft circles over the skin of her back. She could feel the warmth of his skin through the fabric of her shirt. It was comforting.
She looked down the street. Sasuke had probably already left, and even though she knew it shouldn't matter, Sakura still felt very alone. It felt as if a piece of her had been taken away and crushed to pieces.
"Are you okay?" he asked quietly, leaning close, head tipped town towards hers.
"Sasuke dumped me," she told him – and then the tears burst out of her. Sakura was thankful to be outside and alone with Kiba, because it meant no one else could hear the loud, wailing sobs that wracked her body. No one could see the thick tears streaming down her cheeks and making locks of roseate hair stick to her red face, or see her makeup smudging around her red-rimmed eyes.
It was only Kiba, who took her into his arms and let her lean against him and muffle her sobs in the material of his button-down as she cried over another boy. She cried for Sasuke, for her unrequited feelings, for the conclusion of the fairy tale romance that had never been told. She cried because even when Sasuke let her go, he had done it in a way that made it impossible for her to love him any less.
She cried because she didn't know what to do without Sasuke to tell her.
Kiba stayed uncharacteristically silent, and as Sakura forced herself to quiet down, she wondered if she had finally succeeded in turning him off. No guy could put up with a girl like her – one who was so fixated on someone else that she refused to be charmed. It just wasn't done.
Not unless they were really loyal.
Kiba pulled back and scrutinized her expression for a moment – to make sure she was done crying, Sakura supposed. She was a bit ashamed of herself for breaking down like that – and in front of her boyfriend, too. She was a horrible person.
But Kiba didn't seem to think so. Not if the way he was looking at her was any indication. She couldn't see his eyes in the dark, but she could see the small half-smile touching his lips. Sakura blinked up at him, baffled.
"Tell me something," he said.
Sakura nodded mutely.
"How do you know you love Sasuke?"
Sakura's jaw dropped. "W—what?!" she sputtered.
Kiba cocked an eyebrow. His hands were on her forearms, holding her tightly in place so she couldn't step away from him if she wanted. He was so close they were toe-to-toe, but she still couldn't make out his expression properly.
"I just want to know. Purely in the interest of science." Sakura shot him a look and didn't reply, so he squeezed her arms in reassurance. "I won't judge. Just tell me."
Her heart was racing a mile a minute, but Sakura found herself saying, "I know I love him, because I haven't let myself look at another guy for ten years."
Kiba was quiet, and Sakura hoped she hadn't gone too far. He had asked—
"But, Sakura," Kiba said. He sounded half-amused, half-puzzled. "You looked at me."
Sakura sucked in a breath. That was true. And it wasn't just because Kiba was attractive – she knew a lot of attractive guys. It wasn't just that he was persistent – Lee had bought her bouquets of flowers on a weekly basis in high school, and she still hadn't given him any attention beyond their formal friendship. Kiba was just… Kiba.
Kiba, who Sasuke had handed her off to. To make her happy.
She was still wrapping her mind around this when Kiba took one of her hands in his. "Feeling any better?" Without waiting for an answer, he tugged on her hand, making his way back to the house. "Good. Come on."
He sounded excited, for reasons Sakura couldn't be bothered to fathom. Her eyes were wide. What was he doing? Not only did she look terrible, but she was just so confused. She didn't want to return to the party. Not now.
"Kiba, I don't—"
Too late. Kiba pulled her into the main room. Some people turned to wave at him, and instead looked at Sakura. She imagined she was quite a sight with her puffy eyes, mascara-tear-stained cheeks, and ruffled hair.
"Kiba," she hissed, yanking him to a halt. Finally, he looked back. His eyes were bright with excitement, and his grin threatened to split his face in two.
"Have some faith in me, yeah?" he said, before dropping her hand and crossing the room to stand behind Naruto, immersed once again in his Poker game.
"Hey, Naruto, move," Kiba said, shoving Naruto to the side so he knocked into Hinata, who flamed so red Sakura worried she might explode.
"Hey!" Naruto snapped, glaring up at Kiba. "What the hell, I was winning."
Kiba scoffed. "Right." Without another word, he stepped up onto an empty chair—and then onto the dining table.
Sakura's eyes bugged out of her sockets. She wasn't the only one surprised. Everyone was starting to turn to Kiba. Someone turned the music down, and Neji stepped up in front of the dancing crowd to glare up at Kiba.
"Get off my table," he commanded sternly. Sakura glanced at Kiba. He was shaking his head.
"Gimme a sec. This is important."
Lee came up beside Sakura, looking as sparkling clean as usual. His cheeks were flushed with happiness, but his bright, beaming smile dropped a bit when he looked at Sakura.
"What happened to you?" he asked, clearly alarmed.
"Yo. Guys. Listen to me, this is important."
Everyone was staring up at Kiba now. Some were shouting up at him, clearly amused. Neji, of course, was not, but his girlfriend Tenten came up beside him and forcibly restrained him from going up to Kiba to push him off. Across the room, Sakura could see Ino staring up at Kiba impassively.
Naruto was making faces up at Kiba. In response, Kiba kicked his cards off the table, then cleared his throat, turning to face the crowd on the dance floor.
"So, first, happy birthday to Lee." He glanced around his feet for a moment before bending to scoop up Hinata's untouched Pepsi and raising it in salute to Lee. Lee nodded back blankly. Other people were starting to raise their drinks in toast as well, prompting Kiba to add hurriedly, "Yeah, do that on your own time."
Naruto rolled his eyes. Hinata smothered a giggle.
"What I actually wanted to announce was that I'm giving up girl-chasing. I'm looking at you, Kin. Quit making googly-eyes at me." A laugh went through the crowd. Kiba raised his voice. "So, go ahead. Ask me why I'm giving up my favorite hobby. No, really. Ask."
A shout of "Why?!" went around the room. Sakura stayed silent, watching as Kiba got a houseful of people into his sudden announcement. He was a charmer – people liked him, not just girls. Even Sasuke approved of him, and that was saying something…
Kiba was grinning when he turned to her. Sakura's eyes widened. She had been so focused on what Kiba was doing, that she hadn't realized what he was saying.
"Because, guys, I have finally found the girl of my dreams!" He turned to face Ino's side of the room. "I know, none of you thought it would happen. But it did. I have fallen in love," he added solemnly. Sakura felt her cheeks reddening.
"Who's the poor girl?" Temari crowed, smirking.
"I'm glad you asked," Kiba said, sounding like a television host. "I present to you, the beautiful – though maybe not at the moment – the charming, the wonderful, the amazing, the stunning, the—"
"Get to the point, Romeo," Naruto grumped.
The entire room broke out into applause and laughter. Lee was staring at her, looking quite shell-shocked, and Sakura imagined her expression was much the same.
"Sakura," Kiba stage-whispered. "Now you come fall into my arms. Prince Charming chose his Cinderella and all that."
Sakura shook her head, trying to fight a smile. How did he do that? "Cinderella ran away, idiot."
"Good thing I wore sneakers, then." He was holding out a hand. Sakura laughed and stepped forward, sliding her palm into his, so he could pull her up. This was the craziest thing he had done yet.
Ino was staring up at them, looking resigned. "Tell her you love me so she gets off my case," Kiba said in a low voice so only Sakura could hear. "She thinks I'm going to break your heart. She doesn't understand me. I'm like a puppy. I'll keep coming back to you."
"I do like puppies," Sakura said.
Kiba beamed. "Still think I'm a man-slut, then?"
"Nah." But he was no Sasuke, either. Still, Sakura wouldn't mention him. That chapter had been closed, and Sakura was going to have to move on, whether she wanted to or not. It was just nice to have someone beside her on the way.
She took Kiba's hand in hers, and he squeezed it, waving at the crowd with his other hand. She laughed at the sight, staring up at him. He was more vibrant, more outgoing than Sasuke. His bright, playful demeanor was different from Sasuke's quiet steadiness. But he was also mature and understanding, gentle and eager-to-please. He played with kids and animals, was completely unaffected by her teasing, and had come a long way from the walking, talking bundle of hormones he had been when they first met.
Kiba was incomparable to Sasuke, so Sakura would stop. Kiba was Kiba, and Kiba was a good guy. That was all there was to it.
She reached up to touch his cheek, and he glanced down at her. She pulled him down by the collar, and he happily (of course) obliged.
She knew her cheeks were darker than her hair when they finally broke apart, but Kiba didn't seem to care that they were being stared at, if the way he leaned down again was any indication.
Still, Naruto and Neji had had enough.
"My eyes, they burn!"
"Get off my table!"
If there was one thing I learned from Sakura, it was that most girls don't want cookie-cutter flirtation techniques.
They want real boys, real feelings. That's what made Sakura fall for Sasuke.
That was what, eventually, made her fall for me.
She doesn't like to admit it. But we're living happily ever after now.
Take that, Disney.