the hastily decided crisis
Sasuke is uncharacteristically out of the apartment a few days later.
She keeps nagging about his needing fresh air every once in a while, so damn it, you annoying pink-haired twit, fine.
He takes a walk.
Again, there are those same whispers—all this time, and the townspeople have not found it in their hearts to forgive him. They call him names when they think he cannot hear, they keep their distance when he passes through. But he's hardened himself to it and nowadays, he cannot muster enough energy to care…
That is, until Sakura's name is mentioned in passing.
"Haruno Sakura? The medic with the pink hair? Really?"
"Seriously! She hangs around the Uchiha-traitor a lot. They were teammates once I think."
"That doesn't mean she should consort with the likes of him. I mean after what he's done…"
"She's such a sweet girl. He's only dragging her down."
"I know! If she keeps fraternizing with that traitor, I think I'll have to refuse her service…"
"Isn't that a little harsh?"
"Oh, come on! You've heard the stories of that bastard right? He's a cold-blooded murderer. He can't be trusted. And I for one, wouldn't trust anyone foolish enough to associate themselves with him."
"He's right. Haruno-san's a pleasant young woman, but I cannot ignore the fact that she visits the Uchiha-traitor on a daily basis. Think of what that could do to my business!"
"I pity her, really. How could she not consider the repercussions of being involved with that murderer?"
He is quietly standing in his corner and his mind is rushing and his chest his hurting and his throat is tightening.
He is livid and angry and the insides of his ears are throbbing.
His body is shaking with all this rage and there is a sharp pain in his ribs.
He hates them so much right now. Those stupid fucking gossip-mongers who cannot mind their own fucking business. He wants so badly to hurt them. Make them realize that he has been standing there the entire time, that he has heard their little quips, that he is tired of them and that he has the power to make them disappear. He wants them to cower, to quake in terror, to apologize for saying all those useless things, those unnecessary words.
Though he knows it won't make their remarks any less true.
He is a killer who cannot, should not, be trusted.
And he is so, so stupid for letting her get involved.
As Sasuke rushes home, something deep and agonizing settles in his stomach and his throat and his chest and his head.
It is inevitable.
It is excruciating.
The next morning, her happy energy is at the door.
The bell chimes in that familiar way, but he doesn't bother to get out of bed, even though he's been listlessly staring at his blank wall for hours.
"Sasuke! Get up, lazy ass! I've got a huge fuuma shuriken themed breakfast with your name on it!"
She waits a while longer and she's probably wondering why he isn't opening the door and greeting her with his usual scowl.
The doorbell rings again but Sasuke doesn't attempt to move.
"Sasuke! Open up! It's me, Sakura! You know, your friend-slash-food-deliverer?" She scoffs from behind the wood, "This is not how you treat your friends-slash-food-deliverers!"
"Hey! What the hell is wrong with you? Open the door! I know you're in there!" She says, obviously irritated with his lack of response.
"Sasuke?" She asks this hesitantly, "Hey. Are you ok in there?"
His brows furrow and he prays for her to realize that he needs her to leave.
There is a short knock on the wood, "Sasuke, I swear, if you don't answer me in the next few seconds, I'm breaking this door down on the grounds that you could possibly be dying!"
He rises quickly and heads over to the entrance of his apartment. He allows himself a second to relish in it—her familiar presence permeating through the lumber, reaching him in the frigidity of his apartment. Then he forces his voice an octave lower than usual, darker and harder than usual, because he desperately needs to sound convincing.
"Go away." He mutters through the wood.
She is quiet for a minute on the other side and his breath catches as his hopes are conflicted.
"What is wrong with you? I thought we've already been through this! I—"
"Leave." He insists, glaring hard at nothing, "I don't want to see you again."
"Asshole." Sakura retorts. There is barely discernable hesitance in her voice, but he catches it, "…I know you don't mean that."
"I do." He says, unflinchingly, "Your presence has become a burden. I don't need your stupid lunches and shit. Do you really think I care about whether or not you come here?"
Bile catches in his throat but he wills down the urge to cough, "Well, I've realized that your annoying presence far outweighs anything I could possibly like about your food."
"…I don't believe you." She finally whispers against the door. He hears the dull thud of plastic on hardwood, "…I'm just going to assume you're in a mood so, I'll leave this here."
He rests his forehead against the door, throat tight as he snarls out, "Don't come back."
Her feather light footfalls pause as she hesitates a moment. He only allows himself to exhale when her energy has fully stepped out of the building. He drops to his knees, brow sliding slowly against the wood and he curses his weak resolve.
She does come back.
"Sasuke! Open the door!"
And he ignores her. This time, completely like he should have in the beginning. He doesn't reply to her infuriated shouts, he doesn't growl out his tactful, 'Leave me the fuck alone!', he doesn't even bother to take her food in anymore.
She refuses to back down.
"What the hell, Sasuke? You didn't eat this, after I spent hours arranging the noodles in just the right way—"
Granted, her moods are erratic and constantly changing in response to his coldness. And her temper is always more volatile than the visit prior.
"Sasuke! I know you're starving in there! I've got food so open up!"
"Fine. Don't open the door! I'll just let the food get cold out here. See if I care."
"I hate you, you bastard! Open the fucking door so I can pummel you into the ground!"
But she's always, always there the next day, chakra spiking and angry and impatient and very obviously hurt.
It is the 14th day, her Uchiha-style casserole cold and untouched at his doorstep, when her tenacity wavers and dissolves into an attitude reminiscent of a younger Sakura. His back is against the door and he quietly listens to her speak.
"C'mon, Sasuke… " Her once vivacious tone is soft and almost inaudible. "At least tell me why you're suddenly shutting me out. Don't I deserve to know?"
"Did I offend you in some way?" She's so bad at masking her emotions, he wonders how she ever made it as a ninja, "Is…is it really because you're tired of me?"
He forces away the urge to violently shake his head, 'no.'
"I know I can be a handful, but it's not like I don't mean well… I just want to be there for you. What's so bad about that?"
There is another long, pregnant pause.
"…I could talk less, really. All you had to do was tell me to shut up a bit."
Her insecurities are in plain sight and there is dense weight constricting his airway.
"…Sasuke, at least accept the food!"
"Geez." Her following chuckle is shaky and hesitant, because humor is so ironic in a situation like this. "You've got to be sick of living on tomatoes and onigiri!"
"And my food is free and perfectly okay. You've never complained before…"
She's choking on her own gasps and it hurts somewhere inside him to think she's crying, so he wills the images away. He reinforces his determination with the idea that this is good for her. That the pain she's feeling now is nothing compared to the consequences of having him be a part of her future.
"Why…are you doing this to me?" She says, breathily.
She is not crying.
"I thought we were getting along really well and I—"
No. No way.
"I guess I was…wrong?"
She doesn't return and the realization that she probably never will is surreal and disarming and so fucking horrible he sits in bed for 19 straight hours, holding on to the impossible notion that, if he waits, he will eventually sense her bounding chakra outside the door.