AN: Once again I blame Anne Rice and Vampire Lestat for this drabble. I've been in dark foul moods as of late so my writings are reflecting that.



1.) Pretending or feigning; make-believe: My sleepiness was all pretense a false show of something: a pretense of friendship.

2.) A piece of make-believe.

3.) A false allegation or justification: He excused himself from the lunch on a pretense of urgent business.

4.) Insincere or false profession: His pious words were mere pretense

5.) The putting forth of an unwarranted claim.

6.) The claim itself.

7.) Any allegation or claim: to obtain money under false pretenses.

Sasuke stood over his grave grey eyes barely open as he stood in the rain, letting it fall, pour all over him. It felt good to drown, to want to drown again as he had so despairingly before. He sensed the presence, her presence and his jaw clenched. He tried to ignore it and tried to shut it out, but he couldn't. Of course she was here. As usual she was being annoying, a nuisance, a hindrance even in the midst of his grief.

"Sasuke Kun" Those most hated words rolled off her tongue.

Gods if only she wouldn't call him that, that title of endearment, that title that termed them friends, that stated for anyone around them to hear, to know that everything between them was fine. That nothing had ever happened when everything was not fine, could never be the same way again. It made him angry. It made him want to lash out. It made him want to kill. It made him want to cry and he most certainly wasn't about to do that. That title meant that nothing had changed between them, that nothing had come to pass between them. That what he had done ceased to exist. And he hated her for it.

It was so typical of Sakura and he found a sneer of contempt curling on his lips in repose. It was what she wanted to do. To go on pretending like nothing had ever happened, like he'd never left. She wanted to live in a fantasy world where everything was bright sunshine happy now that he had returned. As if he was some goddamned savior who was supposed to make everything okay. As if anybody could make it right now. He saw hope in those eyes. And Sasuke wanted nothing more than to tear that pretty world down around her, to rip up her ribbons and bubbles and frills and disillusions about who he was. Who did she think he was? To ask that of him? To expect that of him?

Sasuke lived in a world of gloom. He lived the grey. He lived an existence so bleak that it was somewhere between flickering and snuffing out entirely. It had been that way his entire life and it seemed nothing was going to change. He had never thought, had never planned or predicted that this could happen though. As dark and bleak and grey as his future had looked, he certainly hadn't anticipated this outcome.

That the pain in his chest, the hole punched out by his other family leaving him all alone, could be felt again. That he could lose another family member after Itachi. It had never occurred to him that the bonds he had so willingly thrown off could still come back to haunt him like some proverbial skeleton in the closet. That even if he had thrown those bonds off, that they were still buried so deeply rooted so firmly entrenched in his soul that he could no sooner escape them then himself. He had so willingly believed he'd thrown them off forever. And now when the dobe was dead, did he finally acknowledge it, could he really see it for what it truly was. And there was no one to tell it to. No one who could understand what could only pass between brothers. And it hurt. Gods it burned like it had the first time.

Sasuke had thrown off his bonds so he wouldn't have to feel the cursed ache within his heart, his soul as he did now, so bone chillingly hauntingly familiar. Like an unwanted friend, a plague upon his entire existence was the weight of his death. He wasn't the only one. It seemed that the entirety of Konoha nin had been pulled into Sasuke's world of dim and grey. The very skies echoed the hearts and souls of those in fire country. Damn him wherever he was now. He didn't have the decency to take him with him.

Sasuke ignored Sakura as she stood next to him, eying him for a few moments. It seemed like she expected something from him, for him to say something, anything whilst the rain fell around them. She waited a minute longer before a small sigh parted from her lips. He always was one to disappoint wasn't he? Sasuke sneered at his own dark thoughts. She turned, focused on the headstone as her eyes closed and she lifted them to the sky. He could hear his name on her lips, as if the dobe could still hear her and a small smile graced her lips before it fell like the water running down her face. She pulled something from beneath her cloak. She'd brought the dobe flowers.

Sasuke watched her place the dandelions on the headstone. The flowers were so much like him, like her. Simple, and bright, and that hurt as he thought of it. He wanted to rip them up, to burn them, to break the headstone. How could you leave me here? Alone with her? Alone with them? Damn you! Sasuke told the headstone.

Sakura reached into her cloak again and pulled out something else. It was the framed picture of team seven. She'd also brought one of them without Sasuke in it, with Sai and Yamato. That caused him to flinch. It irritated him grated under his skin like a knife, a nail scratching against bone. It made the fire burn deep within his dark grey eyes, his fists to clench.

"How dare you" Sasuke snarled at the pink haired kunoichi, who he had once considered his teammate.

"W-what?" Sakura retorted, startled by the fact that her raven haired teammate was actually addressing her. He hadn't spoken since he'd returned.

Sasuke ignored the look of shock and grabbed her wrist hard. "How dare you" He repeated eyes blazing in fury.

"He was my teammate, Sasuke!" Sakura snapped finally. Why was he so angry? His grip hurt her and she pulled against his hold. What had she done? Why was it so wrong that she left the one thing on his headstone that had meant everything to the whisker cheeked boy that she loved? The fire igniting in her eyes as his own smoldered.

"And don't I know exactly what that means. You're such a fucking hypocrite" Sasuke snarled out in contempt.

Sakura's eyes narrowed, as her own fists clenched. "You're one to talk" She retorted, anger but deep unrelenting hurt showing through in those eyes that were always so goddamn transparent. He hated her, hated her for refusing to keep him at a distance after all this time.

Sakura had nothing to hide, would never have anything to hide. She had nothing to be ashamed of and therefore nothing to show, nothing to prove, particularly not to the likes of him. She wasn't capable of deception with him, though she tried. He saw through her as clearly as he saw through everyone else and it sickened him.

"Things can't be the same Sakura. They'll never be the fucking same. I'm back in Konoha because I have nothing left. And because he refused to have the decency to take me with him" Sasuke said pointing at the headstone.

He felt the full impact of her punch against his face fortunately without chakra. He rolled with the punch, his cheek flaming as it pulsed and burned, throbbing as it reddened and purpled as her chest heaved, hard gasps of breath clear in the cold around them.

"Don't you dare talk about Naruto's sacrifice like that! Don't you ever fucking talk like that about him! He died for YOU, damn it!" Sakura trembled, tears streaming down her cheeks though the rain disguised them.

"And how else should I talk about it? He's dead, and there's nothing that will bring him back. He was the only thing between us Sakura, the only family I had left and now he's gone and died on me too."

"Team seven isn't dead! I'm still here, and Kakashi is still here and Sai and Yamato sensei are still here! The rest of the rookie nine are still here. We've always been here, right where you left us!" She cried.

Sasuke chuckled darkly.

"What a joke. The ex sensei who's too lost in his pain to really see anyone in the present, the emotionless root anbu member who only cared in the first place because you forced him to and the sensei I never knew who I thrust my katana through. And the rest of those pathetic half rate nins who think they know something" Sasuke finished.

"And what about me?" Sakura asked, green eyes piercing. "What sharp words do you have for me?" She demanded, fury shaking through her tense figure.

Sasuke hadn't wanted to do this today, but he wasn't about to back down now.

"The girl too wrapped up in a delusion to see the reality apart from her dreams." Sasuke finished, lip curling.

"You don't know. You couldn't possibly know how much I have toiled, worked, sweat, bled for you to come home. I wanted you to return. To return to us…to return to me" Sakura's voice broke, as she trembled to keep from openly sobbing.

"You wanted the me I left behind so long ago, Sakura." Sasuke replied

"T-that's not true" Sakura stammered.

"It is truth." He replied gravely.

"I could learn to." Sakura offered stubbornly.

"No you can't. Because you want to deny the portion of me that left, the part of me that has committed unspeakable crimes and deeds and acts for no ones sake other than myself. You cannot acknowledge the darkness within me. You don't even want to see it"

Sakura eyed him, trembling as her fists clenched.

"You don't have to live that way any more Sasuke kun" Sakura replied.

Sasuke laughed, and his laughter was high and thin, a mockery of a laugh and it's sound was so eerie so chilling to her, to himself that he stopped, taking a sharp breathe.

"I am, Sakura. Bad. Evil. All of it. I don't regret it" Sasuke said.

"And all of you blame me for it. Hell, I blame me for it. I know it to be true so there's no need to say it aloud, is there, Sakura?" He said, challengingly her, baiting her to try and deny it. He had killed Naruto. He had done it.

And Sakura recoiled, cold, frozen, un moving under his words that penetrated to the very core.

Sasuke's sneer returned full force. She couldn't lie about it. She couldn't deny the feelings in her heart, the look in her eyes as those emotions flickered across their emerald surface. And Sasuke felt hollow, numb because he knew the words he spoke were truth, that she couldn't deny them, and that hurt more than anything, that she couldn't deny it.

"He lies between us Sakura, as always." He said and promptly vanished from the grave unable to stand her, unable to stand himself any longer.


Hinata didn't know where she found the strength now. Perhaps it was his final parting gift to her, the ability to carry on without him. The Hyuuga heiress had been grieving for a while. Her father had passed earlier in the year, during spring. Hinata had grieved, her entire clan had grieved for a month, donning the memorial garb, and taking their time to properly let him go. It had been hard. It had been healthy.

It had allowed for Hinata to see who she had been while he had been alive. After that month, Hinata had been initiated as the official head of the Hyuuga clan. She had been forced to grow up in more ways then one. The blonde that had warmed her better than any summer day, with eyes like a Konoha sky had encouraged her the entire way. She had his support. It was why she was able to make it through. Hinata had always found her strength through others.

It was odd. It was like Naruto kun had known he would die. They had made love before he left. He had told her he was going to bring Sasuke home for good this time. He would fulfill his promise to Sakura chan as he called her. He had told her he would come home to her, but that promise had never met his eyes. He had made her promise that she would take care of them. That she would watch over team seven for him before he had left the gates. Hinata hadn't understood him that day but had agreed. Now she did.

And so Hinata mustered her strength, her resolve that he had left her with, that she wouldn't run away, she wouldn't turn her back on anything anymore. That she would perservere. She made her way to the headstone.

Sakura was bawling, sobbing with a grief so painful the Hyuuga heiress felt tears come to her eyes because of it. Her escorts held the umbrellas around her as Hinata made her way to the pink haired medic nin.

Hinata laid her hands on the girls back soothingly. She wrapped the blanket she had brought from her basket, and murmured soothingly to the girl. It was ironic. How a girl possessed so much strength and yet was so fragile so vulnerable. Naruto would have cried along with them had he been here. Sakura looked up into her eyes, green eyes bloodshot, red and puffy from her sobbing and launched herself into Hinata, wailing.

They cried together, until Hinata took Sakura's arms and lifted her, rising as well.

"Sakura san, it would honor me if you stayed at the Hyuuga compound while we mourn our loss" Hinata said, smiling.

She had finally lost her stutter because of her ramen lover, when she had found the strength to become the Hyuuga heiress.

Sakura looked up at Hinata and burst into tears again, nodding because she simply couldn't find the strength to answer. Hinata led their procession back to her home and made tea.

"Hitoki san?" Hinata summoned.

"Hai, Hinata sama?" Hitoki replied.

"Please summon Sai, Kakashi and Yamato sensei here for tea. Do not allow them to refuse our hospitality in this time. Also if you could have Chiori san show Sakura to the baths and bring a change of clothing and towels for her I would be most appreciative." Hinata said with a smile.

"Of course Hinata sama" Hitoki answered.

The Hyuuga compound was blessed by such a kind heiress. Where Hiashi had ruled the Hyuuga clan with an iron fist, Hinata ruled it with a gentle firmness. She was the one who had broken down the walls between the two clans, forcing them to live together and in turn breaking down the generations of hostility between them. No longer were they the branch house and the main house. They were Hyuuga. As it was always meant to be. Hinata had rid them of the cursed seal, refusing to allow something so horrible to be a part of the future of the Hyuuga clan.

Hinata had always been beloved by the main house. It had taken time and trust but she had earned her place in the hearts of the branch house as well. Each seal was removed from them, but never forgotten, never carelessly misplaced. She always treated them respectfully but her respect was full on sincerity and they responded to such gentle treatment and compassion.

"Sakura san. I have some business I must attend to, but please make yourself at home. Chiori san will see to any needs you have. Take a long bath and the others will be here soon in time for tea. I will return later after my business has been concluded." Hinata told her, grasping Sakura's hands in hers and gently squeezing them.

Sakura sniffled again, hugging Hinata tight, who only smiled, and released the girl, wipping her nose as she waved the Hyuuga heiress off and followed Chiori.

Hinata sighed and made her way to the kitchen with her basket the other Hyuuga attendants following her.

"What's this about other business, Hinata sama?" Neji asked as he entered the kitchen.

"Neji ni sama" Hinata greeted coolly as she began to prepare the bento box.

"Hinata?" He asked her again.

"I promised him I would take care of team seven Neji ni sama. All of team seven" Hinata replied firmly.

Neji scowled as he glared at his cousin. "Absolutely not."

"You will not stop me in this Neji ni sama." Hinata replied, pearlescent eyes resolute.

"He's not safe, Hinata sama" Neji replied.

"He will not hurt me, Nii sama" Hinata replied with conviction.

Neji sighed. He wouldn't be able to talk her out of it. She had that look about her, the same look her father had, his father had when he was determined in something. It was painful.

Hinata saw that look and immediately walked over to him, hugging him. Neji was never surprised at the amount of love and compassion Hinata was capable of. She was exactly what the Hyuuga's had needed in a leader. Neji hugged her briefly back, though as always he was uncomfortable with physical touch and so he retreated shortly. Hinata smiled softly and finished her bento box.

"I will at least accompany you to the compound" He told her in a tone that meant no argument.

Hinata nodded as she packed the bento box and a few other things in her basket, allowing Neji to open the door for her, murmuring her thanks. Pearlescent eyes fixed themselves on the Uchiha compound with trepidation, though she refused to show it as she lifted up her chin in determination. For it was one thing to say she would be fine with Sasuke san and another thing to experience it.