Umm… Yeah. I'm not dead. Yet. Nearly died when I read the most recent chapter, though… Kishi's on crack, I swear.

The shinobi from Kumogakure stand before you, glaring, but you don't really process anything after the line "Sasuke is a member of Akatsuki". You're already on your knees, but you slump a little more, brushing the ground with your knuckles.

How, how could this have happened? You don't understand; maybe you've never really understood, but you never expected this.

All his life, Sasuke has strived to be strong (power is everything to me and you don't matter), has always done anything necessary to be the best, has always been willing to throw everything (you and Naruto and Kakashi-sensei and Konoha and home) away to chase after his brother.

And now he's joined the group he hated the most.

And now he's following in his brother's footsteps.

And now he's just like Itachi.

And you don't understand.

(No, your mind whispers brokenly, how could this have happened? Why would you do what Itachi did?)

But Sasuke has always been good at obeying his brother.

(Foolish little brother… if you wish to kill me, hate me, detest me, and survive in an unsightly way. Run, run and cling to life…)

And now he is killing and capturing and injuring and taking away other people's precious people

(you remember the faint tremble in the voices of the Kumo-nin as they spoke of their master)

and this is a monster born of hatred

and this is a demon with wings as black as death

and this—this is no longer your Sasuke-kun, whose eyes warmed ever so slightly at Naruto's antics, who told you that you were heavy, who resembled Kakashi-sensei in terms of attitude.

And maybe you've known this all along, since he knocked you out and left you alonealonealone. Maybe you've just been clinging to the faint vestiges of hope that radiate from Naruto's neverending optimism, from his need to believe in his friends.

But you're not Naruto, and Sasuke isn't really your friend. You can see the anger in the eyes of the Kumo shinobi; you can see the rage and lust for revenge spawning, just waiting to renew the endless cycle of murderers and victims and screaming and blood and pain and

Maybe you're tired of this, just a little. Maybe—you wish you could go on chasing him forever, thinking of him as the same lost little boy, the same missing teammate, but—you don't want to follow him anymore.

(He's chosen his path in life, Inner Sakura hisses. He doesn't want you; he doesn't need you—you don't need him. Stop trying to bring him back!)

You won't tell this to Naruto—you can't. Because Naruto doesn't understand giving up, turning away, leaving a (former) friend to the mercy of the shadows.

But Sasuke belonged to the shadows long before he belonged to you (you and Naruto and Kakashi-sensei and Team Seven and Konoha). They may consume him, but he is the one who embraced them with his bloodstained hands and held them close to his (frozen and motionless) heart in the dark of night.

Sasuke gave up on you long before he knew you.

And now everything is crashing down on you—

(Tsunade-shishou, in her comatose state, looking her true age)

(Danzou, now the Rokudaime Hokage, cruel and cold)

(Konoha, destroyed and in ruins)

(Naruto, his face blank with shock and disbelief)

(Sasuke, and the permission to kill him on sight)

(the Kumo-nin, enraged and desperate)

—and suddenly you get to your feet, gently patting Naruto's shoulder when he tries to help you up (you don't need help; you'll be fine on your own). You glance briefly at the Kumo-nin before blatantly turning your back on them and striding away.

You ignore the bruises on your arms and you ignore your harsh breathing and you ignore the fact that you may have broken a rib or two (because you can always heal it later) and you ignore your aching, bleeding heart, screaming in agony and reaching for something it will never hold (even though you will never be able to heal it) and you ignore Naruto's panicked cries and you ignore the threats from the Kumo-nin because suddenly you realize—

You don't care anymore.

You don't care.

You don't care about Sasuke because he (may have cared for you before, long ago when you were so innocent and naïve, but now he) doesn't care about you.

He doesn't care about the way you hurt deep inside. He doesn't care about the way Naruto works so hard to chase him, sacrifices everything just for him. He doesn't care about the way Kakashi-sensei limps, because it takes a lot out of a person to die and be revived.

And you aren't going to plead for the life of someone who doesn't care. You don't know yet if you're going to be able to face him without breaking down, but for now you're not going to think about that.

You're going to go home and wash your (perfectly dry, tearless) face and while you do it you're going to wash your hands of this business. You're going to visit Ino and she's going to help you figure yourself out. You're going to prove yourself the shinobi you've become, and you're not going to look back.

Sasuke—Sasuke's not worth it anymore.

He doesn't need you and you… you don't want to need him. So while you're not going to forget him entirely, you're going to cry an ocean for him one last time, and then you're going to lock up your emotions and enter the battlefield with a face of stone.

You're a strong kunoichi. You're going to prove Tsunade-shishou right. You don't need Sasuke—this weakness, this emotional hindrance. You're going to let him go.

He didn't care, doesn't care, will probably never care. So you put him in a soft, bright-coloured, precious room in your heart, and then you lock the door. And then you throw away the key (where only he can find it, so that if someday, he—but no. You kill the thought as soon as—before—it forms). The key is gone, and so are your feelings for him.

And you—you, Haruno Sakura, apprentice to the Godaime Hokage, medic-nin, and loyal shinobi of Konohagakure—

You are strong.

when my emotions came to an


I found peace waiting for me

Angst is nice. I'd better get this up before Kishi's next chapter comes out and ruins everything. The Kumo-nin sound fun. And Sasuke's a moron.

Tell me what you think?