Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Summary: Two years ago, he walked out the door and away from her life. Now, when she's finally ready to let him go, he's back, demanding entrance into her life – and her heart. SasuSaku.
Deux of Deux
Morning comes like a dream, beautiful and bright and unassuming. Half asleep still, Sakura's arms stretch across the bed, seeking… she sat up, green eyes flashing open in shock as the events of the night before remind of her their existence. Sasuke-kun. Sai. The kiss. Sasuke-kun!
With a start, she pushes herself out of the bed. The white sheets and the navy blue comforter with the striped pillows they chose together are rumpled on both sides of the bed, and she hates the view (with the white hot intensity of a thousand burning suns and possible more).
But the bed is empty, and she cannot stop the rush of loss flooding through her – loss of hope and the shattering of a dream and the knowledge that this is it and it is over and he is gone.
She realizes her foolishness now, realizes that she had always hoped that he would return, of his own volition. She thinks of all the times she made two portions of his favorite dinners and sat down to dinner by herself and all the times she would rush home after work and leave her shoes a space away from the wall, because he would always put his shoes right next to the wall, and hang her coat on the second hanger because his always goes in the first and…
Now it is over. That dream. It is over.
Walking into the bathroom – unused for two years, and dusty – she wonders how she could ever have believed it. Of course it wouldn't be the same. Of course he wouldn't just come back to her.
But last night… for one long, sparkling moment, she had believed in him. Blindly, as she did once. Blind belief in his love for her, even though he'd never once shown it; blind trust that he would never hurt her, that he would always protect her.
And yet… her fingertips rise toward bruised lips, and she remembers that kiss – biting and harsh and condemning and what right does he have to that? What right does he have to be angry with her when he was the one who left?
In an angry motion, she sweeps the cosmetics – two years outdated – off the counter to the floor, the pretty glass bottles he once bought and placed in their bathroom with the single-mindedness that so often possessed him shattering. And then she slides to the floor, head in hands, and screams.
She could have lived if he had never come back. She could have gone on doing her duty and her job and going out with her friends and subconsciously looking for his face in the crowds. She could have done it.
So why did he come back? Was he really so cruel as to have to break into her stupid little daydream and prove that he wasn't the man she thought she loved, the man she would have married, the one who… the one who would have protected her with everything he had, the one who held her when she slept and didn't know what to do when she cried but stood there and held out the hypoallergenic tissues?
Pounding feet cross the floor of what used to be their room, but she is oblivious to it all as he crosses the floor quickly, fragments of glass cutting into his feet. He kneels beside her for one long moment, and the pain encompassing her is almost tangible, a cloud expanding to cover him. "Sakura," he murmurs, helpless.
His voice pierces through her haze, and she looks up, the tears evident on her face. "You…" she whispers, and he cowers in front of her, this strong man who she could so easily destroy. "You're here," she tells him, and he nods.
There is a long silence as she stares at him as though trying to find something in his face, something that will prove his sincerity to her, something that will prove to her that, yes, he is real, and he is here.
He breaks it, hesitantly. "You allowed me to stay the night. I promised you… I promised that I would explain everything today."
"Really?" she sneers, "Was that before or after you broke into my house?" My heart, she adds, silently, even though it shouldn't be true.
He averts his eyes, and she is furious at this new tactic. "I don't expect you to trust me," he says, carefully. "And I can't explain everything to you, but-"
Her hand swings out to catch his cheek, and his head snaps to the side. Expressionless, he turns his head back to look at her. "How can you say that?" It is a scream, loud and furious and broken, and he realizes that she is begging. "How can you just come back and tell me that you have nothing, that you can do nothing for me? Make me believe, damn you! Make me believe that…"
She trails off, or maybe she is broken off, but Sasuke's face is so near to her own, and his eyes are swimming in unidentifiable emotions. "I'm begging you," he says, and his voice cracks right down the middle. "Let me finish… let me explain." The tears are springing to her (luminescent, large, beautiful) eyes again, and he is sure that they could break him if she tried.
She rubs furiously at the tears trailing down her cheeks, and his eyes are drawn to her, to her bruised lips and blotchy face, and he is faced, suddenly, with a realization. An epitome. He hurt her, one of the few things he would have given everything to protect, everything to prevent. "I'm sorry," he breathes, and stands. "I shouldn't have come back. It was… unforgivable, what I did. I…" He's stepping away, walking backwards over broken glass, and Sakura looks up to see the blood dripping from his feet.
"Stop!" she cries, and he looks up, surprised. "Don't…" her voice falters, and she cannot believe she is telling him this. "Don't hurt yourself."
"I did everything for you," he says, eyes piercing through the tiled floor. "This can't hurt any more."
But he is more careful, now. He turns and picks his way across the floor, leaving her wide-eyed and open-mouthed in his wake. She stands, unsteadily, and chases after him, wanting beyond anything to know what he means. Reaching towards him, she trips over nothing, and she braces herself for the feel of cool glass slicing through skin.
A warm hand catches her, and pulls her upright. She looks up into his taut face, and she smiles in relief, "Sasuke-kun." For a moment they stand there, and she is dazzled by his perfection, his strength, his protection. She had once thought that there was nowhere as safe as where he was, and it is true, and she knows that she cannot survive it if he leaves again.
"Tell me," she says. "Tell me why you left. Make me believe that it was for the best."
So he does. He settles her on their bed and tells her, expressionlessly, a story about a foolish little boy who believed that he had to surpass his older brother no matter what. He tells her of a pact that boy had made, with a man who promised him everything, without questioning what he had to give in return. He tells her, briefly, that the boy grew up and that his brother left and that the boy was left without purpose, only an overwhelming debt to a man he knew nothing about.
And there he stops, and her curious green eyes rove over his face in wonder. This is a strange story, and strange occurrence, and she isn't quite sure what to think of it – of him. It cannot be possible. It should not be possible.
And yet, looking him in the eyes, she would have sworn that he could not be lying. "And then?" she asks, voice soft and questioning.
"I found you," he replies. It's not quite a declaration of love and life-long devotion, but it is more than she had ever expected. She begins to smile up at him, full and loved and beautiful, and he stares emotionlessly down at her. Quickly, she looks away, silently berating herself. What was she thinking? This was Sasuke. He left her.
Clinging to that thought, to the memory of the bruising kiss and the chase through their – her – house and the pain when he left her, she glares up at him. "Where have you been?" she asks.
If he can answer this question, she decides, it will be enough.
But for one long moment, he doesn't answer, and she despairs. It was stupid to hope that he would be coming back for good. It was stupid to believe.
She stands, and she thinks that she will never be able to wash he bloodstains out of the carpet. "You can stay for tonight, Sasuke," she says. "You may leave tomorrow morning."
"No," he says, just as she is about to cross into the hall. "I've done everything to come back to you, and I'm not leaving you now." His voice is hard, and so cold that she can feel the chill. She grips the frame of the door with bloodless fingers, and forces herself to hate him. "You lie," she says, even though she is sure, in her heart, that he speaks the truth. And then she leaves.
That afternoon she spends in her room, sobbing over their pictures, where she believes that she can spot just the barest gleam of happiness and warmth and love, and wonders what happened.
Sometime around midnight, she stops crying only to realize that she is hungry. She is almost afraid to leave her room – she knows that, if she were to meet him, her resolve would crumble and she would beg him to stay. She must not.
But she is – oh – so hungry, and this is her house. So she stands and almost noiselessly crosses her room to the door. She stands there for a moment, listening, and then she carefully swings it open. To the side of the door is a shadow, and for a moment she lets it pass as nothing; her eyes adjust to the dark and she realizes that it is him.
He is sleeping, she thinks, and his face is far from peaceful. For a moment, vindictively, she thinks that he deserves it. But then his features twist in something close to desperation and her name comes from his lips. "Sakura," he begs. "Don't leave me." And a tear streaks down his cheek, the first she has ever seen him shed, and she thinks that it is all because of her.
And before she knows it, she is settling down beside him, arms around her knees and shoulder against his. He flinches from her touch, at first, and then his face blindly turns toward her. "Sakura," he murmurs. He has always been affectionate when asleep. "I knew you wouldn't leave me."
When her eyes open the next morning, he is watching her, eyes alight in something akin to joy. It fades as she stands, brushing off her jeans, and says to him, "Farewell." She stands and begins to walk away, and for the first time ever, he is the one to call at after her.
"Sakura," he says, and his voice holds some of the raw desperation that was so evident the night before. "I want to tell you what I've been doing for these past two years."
It stops her in her tracks, but he continues. "But before I do… I promise you, I meant everything that I have ever done with you."
And this story is different, and not only because he tells it to her back. This story isn't about a foolish boy. It is about a man who made the wrong decisions, and is forced to pay for them. It is about a man, far too proud to apologize and beg, and who must pay his debts to a man not at all afraid to abuse him.
It is a savage tale, of a world that exists within hers, where people fight and kill and die passionately, furiously, horribly. And it tells of a man who killed coldly. Emotionlessly. Ceaselessly.
"Tell me," she asks him, after it is evident that he is finished. "Did you ever… did you ever feel anything for those you killed?"
"Every one," he tells her, fervently, and her voice is full of tears when she responds. "Then why did you do it? Couldn't you have just… just let it go? Refused to kill? What was it that made it worth it to you."
This is the part of his story that could break her or heal her, and she waits guiltily for his answer.
"I did it for you," he says, finally. "I did it because he said… he said that you would live. That he would protect you."
"You killed for me," she murmurs. There is real guilt here, now. Guilt and a strange kind of pleasure, that he loved… cared for her so much that he would kill for her. But… "I have been the cause of so many deaths."
He turns his face away, though she cannot see it. "I did not want to tell you."
She doesn't hear him, maybe, or doesn't acknowledge his words. "People have died for me."
There is fury in him, now, fury that he gave so much for her and she does not see it. He gave away his body, his soul. He became the killer of an utterly heartless man, and she does not see the sacrifice it took. She does not see the absolute pain it caused him to walk away from her that day.
And why is it that he has always seen her, every single day since he met her, and she does not see him?
"You're a murderer," she says, and he flinches. "You've killed so many people."
"Yes," he agrees, because it is true. And on some level he deserves the condemnation that she is giving him, but he had always believed… had always believed that when he came back, she would welcome him home. There would be explanations, of course, but she would still love him. Would still care for him.
He had come running to her across half a world, and all she could say to him was farewell.
"And it was all I could do to survive. But you know what? I survived for you. I lived for you. Every time I thought I could just lie down and die, it was you that kept me going. You that I lived for, every moment of every day. I dreamed of you. I dreamed that those two years would end, and that I could come back to you.
"I dreamed that you would welcome me back. I knew that you would be angry," he adds, advancing on her motionless form with every word, "But I thought you would forgive me. I thought you could always forgive me. That's what you promised, isn't it? That you would be on my side, always."
Her green eyes close, tears clinging to low eyelashes. She had. She had promised him… And she had stayed on his side, always! She had always defended him when her friends spoke badly of him, and she had allowed his friends to hate her, not him. Wasn't that enough? Wasn't it enough?
"You're one to talk about promises," she hissed. "When you broke every single one you ever made to me. Hell, you never even talked about promises. Probably because you didn't want to be bound to keeping them! Get out of my house, Uchiha Sasuke!"
And with that, she flees, running from him and his selfishness and his male stupidity and… why can't he see her?
But he chases her, this time, and when he catches her – as he inevitably will – it is over. She is slammed against the wall, a shout tearing itself from her lips. "Is that all you think of me, Sakura? Is that all you can give me? I kill for you, I die for you, and it is never enough, is it? Tell me. Did it never occur to you that maybe I wanted to promise you the world? That maybe, just maybe, I loved you more than I have ever loved anyone in my entire life?
"Tell me, Sakura. Are you sorry that I survived?"
There is fury and despair and everything in between in her voice, but still she cannot lie to him, not when they are face to face like this. "No," she says, softly.
It is like pouring cold water over him, and his eyes open wide, guilt and sorrow warring in his features. "Sakura," he says. "Oh god, Sakura."
She stays where he has left her, cowering against the wall, and he staggers backwards, before reaching out a trembling hand to touch her face. She flinches, eyes burning into his, and, almost frantically, he stretches toward her, as if to assure himself that she is real. Is alive. Is there.
She flinches again, infinitesimally, and he immediately withdraws his hand, still trembling. "I'm sorry," he pleads. "I'm so sorry."
She looks at him, his trembling form standing before her as if he had lost the thing most precious to him in the world, and briefly she tells herself to be happy. She has finally broken him, as he has broken her, and he deserves it. But she watches him, and she cannot help but love him, feeling his pain as her own.
She cannot stand to watch him like this, not the strong man who has always protected her, even during his absence. Slowly, the pinkhaired woman takes one step towards him, then another. He backs away from her touch with something like panic n his face, but she reaches out towards him and pulls his body toward hers.
For a moment, he fights her – she only holds on even more tightly. And then his arms come up around her, and he grips her back, just as tightly as she is holding him. He buries his face in the crook of her shoulder, and he cries, silently and fiercely.
It is a long while before she pushes him away, and then she looks him in the eye and tells him that it is not fair. He blinks, twice, and she thinks he is misunderstanding her. "It isn't fair," she clarifies, "that I must always be the comforter. Sometimes, I need you, too. And you're never there."
"I will be," he says fervently, grasping at the chance she has offered him. "I will be there."
She shakes her head, mournful, "How can I believe that?"
There is a pause, and then he speaks. "Give me a chance, and I will prove it to you. I promise."
It is strange that a promise would be enough, but it is. It is, more than enough, and, once again, she puts all her hope and faith and trust in him and lets him slide the diamond ring – buried so long in her closet – on her finger.
She can only hope that he will not fail her, not this time.
Rosie's Notes: Wow, thanks for all the support for this, everyone! I'm actually not very pleased with the ending, considering the absolute 'mazingness of everyone who has reviewed, favorited, and alerted this story, but I thank you all so much! Imagine my (supreme, unending, eternal, everlasting) joy when I found all those reviews/alerts in my inbox that first day.
Rosie's Notes II: Thanks to les-liaisons-dangereuses for pointing out that I'm absolutely, completely unclear (and somewhat contradictory) on whether Sasuke and Sakura are married. I'm taking the opportunity now to say that they are not married, just engaged for quite a while and living together.