Disclaimer: I do NOT own Naruto

Recap:

"Thank you…Akira"

Her lips mouthed her words to the wind, all her love and care for him sealed in those words.

"Sakura…what's wrong?"

Shaking her head slightly, she gently smiled and laid her head against the younger Uchiha's chest.

"Nothing…absolutely nothing…"

With that said, she smiled as she heard his last words.

"Be happy…"

Reaching up to caress Sasuke's face once more, her eyes warmed at the love lingering within the recesses of his onyx eyes.

She was finally happy.


"Teme...teme...TEME!"

A disgruntled Naruto glared angrily at the stoic boy who was currently ignoring him. He had merely been discussing the wonderful tastes of all the different flavours of ramen to his supposed best friend before the younger Uchiha had bluntly told him to shut up because he was too noisy.

Jerk.

Naruto pouted and glanced around the courtyard of their school, his eyes seeking out any sight of rosette locks.

A wide grin spread across his features as he spotted Sakura.

As usual, she was in the middle of a crowd, her lips tilted upwards in a demure smile as she nodded in acknowledgment as another student greeted her. Naruto watched as her green eyes glanced around and landed on Naruto and Sasuke, her rosy lips spreading into a knowing grin. Naruto observed as she muttered something to the group she was with before she linked arms with a timid girl whose name Naruto had learnt was Hinata.

Smiling, Sakura made her way over to Naruto and Sasuke with Hinata by her side.

Normally Naruto would have been quite surprised that Sakura would come over to talk to him and the jerk but they had all become rather close lately. Naruto had even learnt just how scary Sakura could be when she was annoyed, which was usually directed at him.

His image of a gentle angel had shattered at that moment.

But…he had found a great friend in her.

Glancing sideways, Naruto noted with satisfaction at how his usually arrogant friend had turned to gaze at the two girls walking their way, his onyx eyes lingering on the pink haired girl that was loved by all the students.

Even though they never said anything, Naruto was pretty sure that Sakura and Sasuke were a lot closer than friends should be.

His mind instantly flickered back to a memory from a few weeks ago.


Naruto was running down the hallways, determined to escape school and return home when a sight caught his eyes.

Blinking, Naruto paused and turned slightly.

There, underneath a cherry blossom tree situated at their school stood a couple, the girl wrapped comfortably in the arms of the boy.

Squinting, Naruto observed them.

There was something very familiar about the two.

At the sight of pink hair, Naruto gaped.

It was Sakura!

But he couldn't tell who the guy was and he was sure that if Sasuke found out that Sakura had a boyfriend...who knows what would happen.

He watched as the boy reached up and tucked a strand of Sakura's hair behind her ear before leaning down to capture her lips, his arms obviously tightening around her. As they pulled away, Naruto could see the challenging, playful look in Sakura's emerald eyes as she smirked up at the boy and pulled him in for another kiss, her cheeks flushed.

Feeling slightly like a pervert, even though they weren't really doing anything THAT inappropriate, he quickly turned away but glanced at them once more hurriedly.

At that exact moment, Sakura had reached up to whisper something in the boy's ear which made the boy, whom had previously had mostly his back facing Naruto, turn slightly so that Naruto could see his side profile.

At that moment, Naruto was SURE he was seeing things before he quickly ran away.

At that moment, he had thought the boy was Sasuke.


Naruto grinned at the memory.

"Why are you grinning to yourself Naruto?"

Startled from his thoughts, Naruto glanced up and noticed the amused quirk of Sakura's lips before she sat down close to Sasuke. Hinata shyly sat next to Sakura, blushing a deep red when Naruto greeted her good naturedly.


Sakura strolled in the middle of the group who were chattering incessantly about the latest make up, latest hairstyles and which guy they thought was the cutest in the school.

She fought the urge to roll her eyes.

When she had returned to school following the incident that had occurred 7 months ago, she had habitually slipped back into the role of the school's princess, making light hearted comments and demurely staring down. But in this school, she had managed to actually befriend a shy girl that she had met in the library.

Hinata Hyuuga.

Sakura actually enjoyed Hinata's company more than the group's and she admired the fact that she could be her real self in front of Hinata who always remained by her side. She was glad that there was at least a girl in this school who she had found to be a good friend.

Ever since that incident 7 months ago, so many things had happened and changed.

She no longer smoke or drank, mainly due to Sasuke's persistence at ensuring that she gave up any habits that would risk her health.

He was so protective.

Sakura couldn't help but smile slightly at that fact.

She still hung out with the gang but she no longer travelled there at night or participated in fights but the gang never seemed to mind as they enjoyed her company.

Kiba...had left to study overseas, seeking out opportunities that would help him heighten his knowledge and he had received so many offers due to his intelligence.

It was his chance to begin again.

Even though Kiba was reluctant to leave, not wanting to leave her alone, she had urged him to go seek his dreams, determined to see him accomplish what he had always wanted. She had always felt guilty about the fact that Kiba along with the others had sacrificed so much just to protect her.

She could remember the day that she had waved goodbye to Kiba.


"So...this is it"

His voice came out slightly strained, as if he was unable to believe that he was leaving her by herself and pursue his goal. Running his fingers through his brown hair, he glanced down at the pink haired girl who smiled gently at him.

"I hope you achieve what you want" smiled Sakura, reaching up to stroke his cheek.

At this gesture, Kiba inhaled a deep breath before crushing her against his chest in a hug.

His words then began to pour out like a broken faucet.

"Stay safe, be happy, don't drink, don't smoke, don't do anything bad, I'll keep in contact, don't worry..."

Her eyes softened.

She was going to miss him so much.

But she was positive that they would meet again.

Pulling away, she noted how his lips had quirked back up into his usual amused grin, his eyes suddenly all knowing.

"Be happy with Sasuke...if he can't protect you, I'll kill him"

She laughed as he chuckled before he leaned down and kissed her cheek.

"I'll miss you... take care...see you later"

Her hand lingered on his arm before she pulled away and smiled brightly at him.

"Have fun!"


Sakura smiled.

Since the incident, she discovered that she could laugh and smile more easily almost as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. But Sakura could still recall her anger at her friends when they had handed over Akira's diary but she eventually forgave them, knowing that they had hid it to protect her.

As she read Akira's diary, she had smiled, she had cried but she had loved him so much. When she had finished reading it, she felt lighter, almost as if she were symbolically whispering farewell to her past when she closed his diary.

Her time with Akira had been one of her most treasured times and she would never forget him.

He would always be her first love.

But now…there was Sasuke and she loved him now.

Not that she would voluntarily admit that to him because she was certain that that would only earn her a very smug smirk from a satisfied younger Uchiha as well as a follow up kiss that would practically make her melt.

Yes, she had learnt from previous experiences.

But even if she had Sasuke now, she would never forget her friends who had remained by her side for so long. But she was happy for them now, content that they would be able to finally move on in their life now that they had all been freed.

Her thoughts travelled to her red haired athletic friend who had travelled with Kiba overseas to pursue his athletic career. Apparently, the university that Kiba wanted to travel to had also offered Gaara an Elite Athlete's scholarship which Gaara, due to much encouraging from Sakura and Kiba, had accepted. Sakura had thought it was a wonderful opportunity as the university had all the latest technology and information for both Gaara and Kiba. Even though they were all technically in the same grade, the university had insisted that they wouldn't mind accepting Gaara and Kiba, who were high schooler's, due to their abilities and talents.

She smiled softly.

At least they wouldn't be alone.

She was glad that even though they were in a foreign place, they would still have a friend by their side since she couldn't be there for them.


"Gaara! Are you excited about leaving?"

Sakura watched as her red haired friend gazed down at her, his lips tilting into a smirk.

"Yes…and no"

Sakura heard Kiba chuckle at his words behind her knowingly.

Gaara ruffled her hair slightly.

"So this is where we separate huh?" whispered Gaara as Sakura smiled gently, touching his arm in a comforting manner.

"But we'll see each other again for sure…take care of yourself and Kiba"

At this Kiba made a comment behind them, saying something along the lines that he would be fully capable of taking care of himself and that Gaara's driving would kill him if he ever needed to be driven somewhere.

This earned him a glare from Gaara.

Sakura smirked.

She had heard from Kiba, Itachi and even her own father about their driving experience with Gaara which they all agreed, in unison, was a thrilling but deadly experience.

Throwing her arms around Gaara in a farewell hug, she smiled gently.

"Be safe and don't get hurt Gaara…also, for Kiba's sake, get a licence"

At her words, Gaara smirked, returning her embrace.

Pulling away, he looked at her, a tender glimmer in his jade eyes.

"Take care Sak…"


Sakura wouldn't lie.

She missed them so much.

It had already been 6 months since they had left and 7 months since the incident. Initially it had felt so strange no longer having them by her side. She had realised how much she missed them when she had, out of habit, reached over to her phone to call Kiba and chat to him before realising that he was no longer there.

It had felt weirder going to the hangout and not seeing either of them there.

But they all still conversed on the internet and would chat on the phone when they could.

Apparently, Kiba and Gaara were sharing a dorm together and everything was going well for them and Kiba was constantly encouraging, more like pleading, for Gaara to get a licence which he eventually managed to obtain.

Sakura smiled gently, her eyes softening.

She really did miss them.

They had always been by her side for so long and it wasn't until they were gone that she realised just how much she treasured them all.

But at least they would be returning to her side in their next holidays.

Reaching up to tuck a strand of her pink hair behind her ear, she nodded in response to a girl's exclamation about how completely drool worthy a certain younger Uchiha was before another girl nudged her, gesturing towards Sakura.

It seemed that the school believed that Sakura and Sasuke belonged together and made the picture perfect couple but because neither had confirmed any relationship, the girls continued discussing him.

Sakura just smiled knowingly.

Her mind flickered to thoughts of the older Uchiha who was not only one of her closest friends but also someone she had...kissed quite a few times. Sakura had a feeling that Sasuke was still quite annoyed about that fact and always lingered close to her when she wanted to talk to Itachi. But she had insisted to Sasuke that she had made it clear to Itachi that they were only friends which Itachi had always known anyway so had merely shrugged it off but smirked at his younger brother.


"Itachi...I care for you so much...but I guess no kissing anymore right? Since I am together with Sasuke now..." mumbled Sakura sheepishly, just realising how awkward this was sounding.

Itachi chuckled and reached out to stroke her cheek.

"Sak, I've always known we are just friends. Besides, I realised how close you seemed to my brother when I no longer received any kisses from you" smirked Itachi.

She blushed before standing straight and looking him in the eye knowingly.

"But you're not going to stop teasing him are you?"

Itachi smirked, his onyx eyes teasing.

"No...it's too much fun to stop teasing him"

Sakura sighed.

"Itachi...thank you...for everything"

She smiled gently at him as he leaned down and kissed her forehead affectionately.

"If you need anything, tell me alright Sak"

At that precise moment, Sasuke strolled into the room and paused, twitching slightly at the scene.

Glancing from his brother's amused look and Sakura's slightly startled one, Sasuke chose not to comment, instead strolling over, firmly wrapping his arm around Sakura's shoulders and with one last annoyed glare in Itachi's direction, Sasuke led Sakura out of the room despite her protests.


Sakura smiled.

Despite his protests, she had stated bluntly to his face that he was just jealous which he had responded by kissing her firmly, his arms wrapped around her tightly. Even though they argued less and she had become happier and less challenging, they still teased and challenged each other but neither minded.

In fact, Sakura thought that he secretly enjoyed their teasing challenges.

She knew she did.

But for now, they kept their relationship quiet just wanting to enjoy each other's company but she had told Hinata and those that she was close to and she was pretty sure that Sasuke had purposely turned his head to the side when she had whispered in his ear that Naruto was looking at them when they had been under the cherry blossom tree.

She figured that was his way of telling, more like showing, Naruto.

She was really glad...that the whole incident was finally behind them. When they had returned to their home, her father would visit Vince in hospital and she had heard from her mother that the two would just talk things through, all their issues, problems, arguments, apologies.

It was almost as if they were starting again.

The subordinate of Vince had lashed out at Sakura's father and despite Sakura's father wanting to negotiate and discuss things with the man, he had simply refused to do anything else but insult her father with deadly threats of vengeance.

It was concluded that the man was still a danger and was detained.

She had gone to visit Vince about 5 months ago.

To see the man she had loved like an uncle, who had caused her pain...who had set her free.


Knocking hesitantly on the door, Sakura paused.

At the sound of his voice, she entered the room and gazed at the man sitting on the hospital bed.

Warm blue eyes widened in surprise at the sight of her.

She choked up.

She knew those warm blue eyes, they were the eyes of her Uncle Vince...not the arctic icy blue that it had been before.

"Sakura..."

His voice was not the menacing tone that had struck fear in her before.

It was the low gentle rumble that she remembered had teased and joked with her father.

"Uncle Vince..."

Unconsciously, the words had slipped out.

She gasped.

His eyes widened further.

All it had taken were those two words and she watched as the man that she had considered fearful had tears trickling down his cheeks.

"Oh god Sakura...I'm so sorry. So sorry for everything. I know that apologising won't do any good but I promise you that no matter what happens, I'll protect you from now on so that you can never be hurt again. I'll start up my business once more and build it back up to its original glory so that I can aid your family in any way possible. I hope that some day you'll be able to forgive me because I don't think I can even forgive myself..."

His words poured out like an incessant stream.

She paused, absorbing his words.

After so much thinking, she had come to the room to forgive him.

Forgive him so that she could move on.

She thought about how much he had actually suffered, losing his wife and then being the one who had caused his own son's downfall.

She remembered how her father had explained to her that he had continued to visit Vince because despite all that had happened, he had been his best friend and could never leave him alone but that he hadn't immediately forgave Vince.

He had told her how Vince sat there listening to all he had to say, all his anger and all his hurt.

Sakura watched the man in front of her before she slowly...hesitantly reached out her hand and laid it on top of his.

This earned her a shocked look from Vince.

"Don't cry Uncle Vince...Akira and Auntie Selena wouldn't want you to cry"

She knew, deep down, that Akira had always loved his father no matter what.

Vince merely nodded, unsure of what to say.

"Thank you Sakura...for forgiving me"


She gazed downwards at her feet.

Sakura had discussed all of Vince's issues, problems, all the pain she had felt because of him and she, in turn, listened to everything that had led up to the incident, all his suffering and anger.

She had felt released from all the pain.

Finally able to move on.

Now...she could still talk to Uncle Vince...it had taken small, hesitant steps but it was slowly turning back into a comfortable relationship. She understood how hard Vince was working now to rebuild his company, putting all his effort into a business that he stated was a present for his wife and son.

Despite the lingering hesitations and uneasiness, she had witnessed her father and Vince occasionally laughing at something together almost as if they were back in the past. But despite Vince's chuckles and familiar grins once more, she had accidentally stumbled on him suffering alone one afternoon.


Strolling down the corridor, she heard a pained groan from the room near by.

Peering in, she looked at Vince who was gazing down at a photo of his wife and son, tears streaming down his cheeks as he raised the photo up and kissed it gently.

His fingers shakily stroked over the smooth surface of the photo.

"I'm so, so sorry..."

His voice was shaky, strained.

"I love you both so much..."

Sakura didn't know if it was a trick of the light but she thought she saw Auntie Selena with her hand placed on Vince's shoulder, gazing down at him gently and Akira with a hand on Vince's other shoulder.

But when she blinked, they were gone.

Lingering, she decided to leave him alone to his suffering.

It was times like these that she understood best.

When she didn't want anyone else's pity and would overcome it herself.

It was what made her stronger.

Now it was Uncle Vince's turn to become stronger.


Sakura felt that she had grown so much in these past few months. She had experienced so much in life already.

She was startled when a boy reached across and touched her shoulder, asking if she was ok.

Instinctively she glanced across and saw Naruto and Sasuke.

She noted how Sasuke's eyes narrowed on the boy, a displeased look evident on his face.

Smiling broadly, she politely excused herself, grabbed Hinata and wandered over to the two boys.

Each step she took, she felt was another step into a brighter future.

One step, her thoughts lingered back to Akira.

Two steps, her mind thought back to Gaara and Kiba, wondering what they were doing right now.


"Gaara...what are you doing holding my car keys...?"

Kiba glanced up, worry and fear apparent in his eyes. He had just recently bought a new car and had been adamant that Gaara would not be able to drive it until he had obtained his licence.

But yet, there stood Gaara, with Kiba's precious car keys in his hand.

Gaara gave him a what-do-you-usually-do-with-car-keys-look.

"I'm going out to drive it"

Kiba gulped.

"Hey…Gaara, didn't I tell you to get your licence?"

Gaara rolled his eyes.

"I already got my licence"

Kiba sighed. It was true that Gaara had miraculously gotten his licence…but after personal experience, Kiba couldn't help thinking that whoever had passed Gaara's driving test must have not only been blind but loved the thrill of sharp swerves.

"Yeah…true. How about…I'll drive you to where you want to go….?" replied Kiba, warily gazing at the keys in Gaara's hand.

"…Why?"

"…Cause I don't want you to kill Sakura?"

Yes, that was right. Since Sakura wasn't by their side, Gaara and Kiba had declared that the car be named Sakura in honour of their far-a-way friend which Sakura had laughed at them for but good naturedly agreed to having a car named after her.

Gaara paused.

"Fine…"

Kiba grinned, the keys safely in his possession.


Three steps, Sakura thought about Itachi and his constant teasing aimed at Sasuke.

Four steps, she thought about her family and Uncle Vince.

The minute she stood in front of the two boys, she smiled teasingly at Sasuke's annoyed look before shifting her eyes towards Naruto.

"Why are you grinning to yourself Naruto?"

Naruto merely grinned even wider before greeting both her and Hinata and Sakura was satisfied to see her shy friend blush a deep crimson.

If only Naruto wasn't such an idiot.

Then he might have noticed how much Hinata liked him.

Plopping herself down next to Sasuke, she purposely sat close to him, her hand reassuringly brushing his.

"Uchiha"

Her voice held a teasing edge to it and as she shifted her gaze at him, she noticed how he gazed back down at her, his eyes challenging. His fingers tenderly stroked the scar on her wrist affectionately. She had long since accepted that the scar would always be there but it made her feel slightly better whenever Sasuke kissed it tenderly or touched it lovingly as if wanting to remove any lingering bad memories.

"Sorry dobe, Hinata. I think Sakura and I needed to go to the library for something"

Sakura fought the urge to laugh but followed him nonetheless, leaving Hinata and Naruto alone, at which she winked at Hinata , urging her to talk to Naruto.

Hinata merely turned a deep red.


"Were you J-E-A-L-O-U-S…Uchiha?" smirked Sakura, running her fingers through her long pink hair, which had grown in the past months.

Sasuke smirked and took a step closer to her.

They were near the back of the library where hardly anyone was, not that Sakura or Sasuke minded.

"Jealous…Of course not"

Sakura rolled her green eyes.

"Uh huh"

Smirking, Sasuke wrapped his arms securely around his girlfriend, resting his forehead against hers. He was content, finally having her in his arm and his smirk widened when she glanced up at him, her bright green eyes peering up at him tauntingly.

"A jealous Uchiha…how cute" she drawled.

Sasuke narrowed his onyx eyes at her as he bent down and brushed his lips against hers.

"Cute? I thought that you were calling me an arrogant jerk with chicken hair only a few days ago"

She mumbled something against his chest.

He smirked.

"What was that? I didn't hear"

She glared up at him before she smiled.

"You still are…but you're my arrogant jerk"

With that said, she pulled him down for a warm kiss. Their lips moved against each others lovingly before he nibbled at the bottom of her lip. She smiled against his lips before opening her mouth slightly to which he responded with a smirk.

Their tongues danced with each others, challenging, tasting…marking.

Pulling away slightly, Sasuke was satisfied to see his fiery girlfriend looking flushed and thoroughly kissed.

Gently, his eyes softening, he ran his thumb over her lips.

"What a feisty girl…luckily you belong to me Sakura"

Sakura glared up at him.

"I'm not a possession" she snapped up at him, her eyebrow twitching slightly at his possessive remark. She remembered how when she had first encountered him, she had absolutely despised Uchiha's except for Itachi…but now, she didn't mind them so much anymore. Although she noticed that both Itachi and Sasuke had the same arrogant aura.

Sasuke chuckled, sending warm shivers down Sakura's spine, not that she would ever tell him how much he affected her.

"I know that" smirked Sasuke, leaning down to kiss her once more, his arms tightening around her securely as she wrapped her arms willingly around his neck, tilting her face up to give him more access.

Pulling away, Sakura smiled up at the clouded look in Sasuke's eyes.

"So you DO love me Uchiha"

Sasuke growled, pulling her to him once more to ravish her lips.

Flushed and thoroughly kissed, she smiled at him, her fingers gently rubbing his lips. Her long lashes fluttered against her upper cheek as she closed her eyes before she gazed up into the onyx pools that could melt her on the spot.

A mischievous grin spread impishly across her pretty features.

"Don't worry Sasuke…I love you too"

He chuckled once more.

He mouthed his response before letting his lips place butterfly kisses along her jaw and on her cheek before wrapping his arms even tighter around her, swooping in for a heated kiss that she eagerly responded to, refusing to back down.

As Sakura's mind flittered back to his response, she smiled against the kiss.

'I love you'

She was finally at peace and Sakura couldn't be happier.

She had finally moved on.


The door has closed on the past but a new door has opened, allowing those to instigate a new beginning. New goals, new challenges and new found happiness lay waiting for these characters to discover and treasure. All the icy barriers surrounding one's heart have dissolved with the warmth of the future as the brightness of new prospects caress one's heart tenderly.

One should never forget their past but remember it, knowing that it is because of your past that shapes your character but it is your future that will allow you to develop your character. It is your choice to determine which road to take, which dream to fulfil.

Your future lies in your hands.

It is your chance to shape and mould it.

The curtains have closed on this final show.

Now it is time for a whole new show to begin.

'Be brave and live your dreams because no one should outline your future for you, those choices are soley yours'


Ta DAH! It's sad to say but this story is over now…I'm particularly sorry for this very late update but things have been pretty hectic with all my exams and parties and events happening because I have officially graduated from high school last week XD But yes, it's not ALL over because I still have my final exams (THE MAJOR ONE) in 2 weeks. But THANK YOU to everyone who has reviewed, because I absolutely love reading all of your reviews because everyone is so absolutely AWESOME, and for dealing with my late-ness at updating.

P.S. If any of you have questions, I'll happily answer them so that none of you will be left confused.

P.P.S. THANK YOU EVERYONE! I hope you enjoyed this chapter and please review XD

Hopefully I'll have a new story for you all after my final exams but until then, thanks and later all you brilliant, fantabulous people!

3 s2CherryBlossoms2