Author's Note: Um... hi. Doubt anyone is reading this, but I'm trying to ease my way back into the Naruto fandom. So... yeah.

Sweet and Low

Ice-cold drizzle fell from an unhappy gray sky. People, their shoulders hunched up against the bone-chilling wetness, scurried through the large town, attending to necessary errands and looking miserable.

The foul weather, however, suited Sasuke's purposes exactly—it provided an excuse for him and Sakura to keep their cloaks on and hoods up. He was aware that his looks were striking and distinctive, and many people knew of Sakura's unique coloring. At one point while she was still unconscious, he'd taken a break from fleeing to rub dirt into her hair, but it was the flimsiest of disguises and would not stand up to any scrutiny.

Sakura was, of course, awake now, nearly a day and a half after their escape from the palace. Her expression was flat, her movements motorized, her eyes as empty as a drained vial of poison.

She would not speak to him.

It was eating away at him from the inside out—guilt for letting her witness her mother's murder, regret for having her in this position in the first place, wretchedness at being at odds with her. They'd rarely fought, and even then it had been over silly things, but it had always left him forlorn and out of sorts, sulking and skulking around the palace until they made up. Now it was over a hundred times worse.

He hated that he needed her more than she needed him.

As their horse stepped wearily through the all but deserted streets, Sasuke couldn't bear to look at Sakura's face. He feared one glance would make him break down and take her into his arms, tuck her head under his chin and murmur words of comfort and solace in her ear, words that had never come easily to him but would slip from his lips for her alone.

He wanted to hold her close and stroke her hair and whisper, don't worry, it'll be all right, shh, everything will be just fine.

But the last thing she needed to hear now was a lie.

Very short, I know. Next one will be longer.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.