summery: He is fifteen, he is sixteen, he is seventeen. He is learning, he is growing, he is changing. He is twenty three and he is more than recovered.
pairing: Team Seven + Sasuke x Sakura
note: This does contain some spoilers, but they're pretty basic and non-obvious.
word count: 869
He is fifteen years old and Sasuke's life is blood, death, hate, love, betrayal and failure.
In this year – this fifteenth year of his miserable, ironic, damnable life – Sasuke learns many things. He learns that while monsters can be killed – or rather, can die – nightmares and the horrors they contain are far harder to dispel. Finally, he understands that some wounds can never heal, can never be covered over and brushed away with any action. Too late he sees that revenge, and the quest for it, is a lie and more than that; it is a lie that destroys in the seeking of impossible falsities.
But he learns other things as well.
He learns that some ties cannot be severed and that some times this doesn't have to hurt. Looking at pink and orange – at Sakura and Naruto – he thinks he understands, finally, what unconditional means.
The year of broken little boys and shattered older brothers brings careful friendships forged on loud laughs, harsh hands that somehow also heal, and smirks that don't carry the weight of hate.
Fifteen is taking a deep breath - in, in, in, keep breathing, take it in, this is it – and looking straight into blue and green, refusing to show fear or weakness, only sincerity and truth before, finally –
"I missed you."
- letting go.
He is sixteen and life is slowly, surely, painfully remembering how to live.
Luckily for him, he has them: Sakura and Naruto.
Impossibly, idiotically, they are still there –right there – and they are still reaching out, fingers spread wide, waiting for him to grow some sense and grab hold. Despite orders, they train with him. Disregarding the stares that follow, they drag him around town, all smiles and laughs and ignorance of the masked figures watching – always watching.
Under their constant, unwavering protection, the armor begins to crack and splinter, leaving behind a stripped and scared little boy that is suddenly just that – just a boy. And it hurts Sasuke a little to throw away the old shell that had been protection from everyone and himself, but suddenly he can breathe – can think and feel without having to remember that he is a monster doomed to kill
Sixteen is the smile that splits his face and makes the world a brighter, scintillating picture to behold. It is the stretch of his arms and the shocked faces that are nonetheless a sort of disbelieving, proud, and joyful mix.
Sixteen is Naruto hugging him back and Sakura laughing through tears into his chest.
He is seventeen and life is a bewildering, wonderful mess.
Now that things are better, now that he is ok, everything seems to be more confusing. There aren't straight paths with definite treads to follow anymore. No train, hunt, train, hunt, kill. He's lost sight of the goal and is living for the journey and it is great – is wonderful – but it is confusing and discombobulating and –
His thoughts almost always contain pink, green, and a laugh that has never once been anything other than kind. Though he can't for the life of him understand how this has come to be, he is quite sure what it is. It scares him, but not in the fear of old – This fear is new and different and familiar in the way air, light, and the sky are familiar.
But things are about to change.
On this day, this last day of his seventeenth year – the portal moment between child and adult - he gives into the rush of small glowing hands that linger too long and the feel of her shoulder beneath his comforting hand. Sakura deserves better, he knows, but he is suddenly quite sure he'll never give her the chance to find it.
Seventeen is the look of her face cupped between his hands; is the sensation of darkness colliding into light and an explosion – bang, bang, supernova – that leaves him helpless and naked but alive and breathing and feeling in the aftermath. Fingers pushing through her still- short hair, he lets his thumbs ghost over her cheeks before settling on tracing her lips.
Seventeen is the taste of mint and strawberry and just-barely salty tears that comes when his mouth covers her own and in a flash, nothing is the same.
He is twenty-three and his life is complete.
The now of today is composed of gentle smiles and lingering kisses that may or may not escalate to much more. Of sleepless nights and truly, honestly, and forever believing in love at first sight. Today is his to have, to hold, and to keep far past the span of forever.
Twenty-three is looking into clear blue baby eyes and running his finger over a tuft of blue-black hair. Twenty three is the soft weight against his chest as a little piece of heaven slumbers atop of him and the larger warmth of his wife pressed to his side, pink hair wild and spread across her pillow.
Twenty-three is loving so much it hurts a hurt that is wonderful and perfect and makes him feel like he's finally found home.
note: The baby has blue eyes because it's a baby and most babies have blue-ish eyes. It's my way of saying I'm not sure what color eyes a child of Sakura and Sasuke would have, although according to genetic theory any baby of theirs would have dark hair. (pity the pink)