I. She is there.

The plague of initial darkness lifted in three stripes of sunlight curling in from the window that the curtains could not completely cover. Or it would have had his eyes not been smothered from sight by bandages thick and twined around his head, shielding them from the harsh ultraviolet.

His heart is beating too quickly, he doesn't know where he is.

[Sasuke remembers his name, screamed loudly from across a desolate wasteland of lush trees and apocalyptic, nightmarish horror. In the form of blood. He remembers the wind curling around him, making his cloak fly around him and embrace him tightly as the gusts pushed harder. The crackle of his wonderfully burning fingertips. A high of hazy gore and power.]

His heart calms slightly as his bearings return, but his breathing remains gasping and desperate.

The young sharingan user looks around the sterile room, dimmed by the darkness of linen blinds and finds color.

The numbness in his hand is explained by the pair of hands only a shade less pale then his own, doubling as holding it tightly and cushioning a head adorned with a wreath of petal colored curls asleep and waiting.

Waiting for him to awake.

His heart rate doubles its pace.

II. She trusts him enough to sleep.

The second time Sakura falls asleep in his presence it is a jarring and frighteningly pressuring occurrence.

It had begun as an afternoon that promised an arresting degree of boredom. In which he could not leave. His former teammates quickly amended that. They came to keep him company, company which he neither asked for nor appreciated.

[Although the niggling voice in his head whispers that perhaps he has walked the halls of this house too long as the years had gone by. In which it had been silence and him, not a voice more, answering in the stillness.]

Naruto hogs the big couch, splaying himself across it like the king of Persia himself. With the way he was looking at him- like the cat who got the canary –Sasuke wonders if he was entertaining images of them feeding him grapes or something. He wouldn't put it past him.

Sakura, forced to share the tiny couch with him, rolls her eyes and uses him as a resting place, or pillow even. And as she leans into his side, totally at ease; as if she hadn't loved him once, as if he had never been her enemy, as if she didn't make him nervous-

She slept.

He finds himself unable to fight it himself as he holds the knowledge in his hand like a delicate dove, that she trusts him enough to do so.

To him, it is almost as amazing as home.

III. She is kind in a roundabout way.

He's starving. More hungry than he has ever been in his life. He doesn't know why that is. He hasn't been deprived of it for long, nor done anything so horribly strenuous.

[He wonders, somehow, if this is a testament to his spoiled nature. His ignorance to simple problems with complicated solutions; like hunger and poverty. He wonders why that has never seemed to matter to him, why he hadn't ever seen it before.]

He's sitting at a stand, Kakashi across the table from him as he contemplates his sudden need for sustenance above all else.

Simultaneously the elderly waitress appears with his order. And so does Sakura. She smiles and makes idle chat with Kakashi, not ignoring him, but not blatantly forcing him into conversation. He is suddenly morose and feels less compulsion for food.

"I should get going. Bye Kakashi-sensei! Sasuke-kun!" she steals a slice of tomato and pops it in her mouth. "Yum." She says in a moaning melted tone, like syrup or honey in tea. She steals a riceball and is then on her way.

As she struts down the street he watches her. He watches as she pauses at a homeless man sitting at the side of the road whose hat was set purposefully on the ground in front of him.

Sakura tucks a bill into the brim and hands him the riceball.

IV. She has grown.

It is after she says something particularly clever that sends Naruto into a sulking, angsty ball of flummoxed confusion and then turns on him, that he appreciates that Sakura is not a little girl anymore.

She does not bend to his wishes anymore, does not spare him the grievance of dealing with mildly disconcerting things. She does not prim or pry or force him into corners and be-

Be the overbearing girl in love that once occupied the stool beside him.

Once she'd loved him.

Most of the time he forgets that.

But there are times when he doesn't.

[He really is just a contrary bastard.]

V. It's the little things.

Sakura has freckles.

This, to Sasuke is a startling discovery.

Mostly the shock that he had actually missed them. Sasuke was nothing if not observant of his surroundings. He was trained to be so. And damn good at it too.

It is so startling that it draws a conclusion, kicking and screaming in protest, from his conscience. Uchiha Sasuke had simply not paid enough attention. He hadn't noticed the dusting of darkness across the bridge of her nose because he hadn't cared to.

Haruno Sakura had never before been of notice to him.

Later, he catches himself staring, perusing, searching. Trying to alleviate his guilt. Trying to amend such insurrections.

He spends hours looking for anything else he may have missed.

VI. She has compassion.

He wants to kill her in this moment.

She is stupid and childish. She is idealistic and ridiculously oblivious to the real world. Obtuse would be the proper term. Used all too often, yet never spoken once aloud.

She is saving the life of a murderer. One of the men in a long list who led to the downfall of his family. And yet, she's saving his life.

"It's easy to feel compassion for a good person," Naruto shouts, standing metaphorically between the two, protecting her as he always has, even when she's not there to know it. "Do you have any idea what kind of person it takes to feel compassion for a murderer?"

In Sasuke's world of black and white the killers deserve to die. The righteous live to carry on legacies.

"But," Sakura counters, "What does that make you?"

It is then that he realizes that he will never see the world the way Sakura does.

It holds more colors than he knows names for.

VII. To him; knowing that even when he didn't need her, she would always be there…that knowledge; to him, is mind blowing.

It is their twelfth mission together since he returned home. This time Naruto does not accompany them; it is simply the companionship of the less vibrant.

The trip is not silent; for though Sasuke had never been one to ramble, she has. And he isn't exactly what one might call quiet when he believes there is something to say. As a teenager he may not have said much, but he could never have been mistaken for what one might call soft spoken.

They talk. As friends do.

And then a needle imbeds itself in his shoulder.

Of course it does.

Sakura leaps into action at a moment's notice. He himself feels no need to. However he does raise a questioning brow when she pulls the senbon from his flesh and sniff the wound. Then licks the side of the senbon tentatively. It was then that he began to go numb.

It was also then when more weapons rained down on them like hail.

Grabbing his mission partner he wraps a muscled arm around her rib cage and leaps into a tree on higher ground. They settle on a thick branch and Sakura uncorks a glass vile with her teeth. "Drink this. It'll keep your heart beating." It smells acrid but he downs the yellowish concoction with on gulp, it hit the back of his throat and burned like acid all the way down. But he could feel his sword arm again. And that was always a plus.

Their assailants caught up to them, one lunged for his head, spear held firmly in his grip; utilitarian mask a soft gleaming white in the darkened forest. He was ready. Just as he was about to plunge the sword into the ronin's chest a flurry of red obscured his vision and the sickening and familiar crack of Sakura's fist snapping bone leapt through the forest and above the trees like a symphony, making the birds take off.

Later, the dead bodies little the floor like dolls littering a nursery and Sakura is pulling a spearhead from her left shoulder. Sasuke tenses at sound of tearing flesh and sinew. But her hand is glowing and all is right.

The light from her palm illuminates her face and she looks so frighteningly alive in her pain.

Sasuke knows that she knew he could have protected himself, that he didn't need her to save him. But the words are hard to articulate when he tries to explain, even to himself, why it makes him so happy that she did it anyway.

VIII. She worries for him.

"I refuse to believe anyone can screw up rice balls." She plucks a clump white from the box he holds so tightly that his knuckled share the shade, "OH GOD." Sakura chokes and spasms, desperately trying to purge her mouth of its contents. "These are terrible." She hacked and coughed, finally upchucking the concoction.

She gasps and stands up straight, wiping her mouth on the back of her sleeve and comes closer, using her overdramatic theatrics to their extreme. She clutched his shoulders tightly, giving them a gentle squeeze with each hand. "I'm making you a decent dinner and you are never EVER to serve these to another human being, including yourself EVER AGAIN."

He shows up 10 minutes early, with not flowers, but a plastic container full of riceballs.

One's he bought from the store.

IX. She is his conscience.

"I'll kill you!" the words are not shouted, in fact; they are barely spoken audibly. But the whisper is so dangerous and the look in her eyes so haunting, Sasuke doesn't think he'll ever forget it let alone the victim of her raving. "You fucking bastard," he has never heard her swear. "You deserve to rot in hell." She doesn't cry.

Haruno Sakura doesn't cry anymore.

She stands regally above Danzou, the most sickening creature that he can imagine, beautifully terrifying in her great and terrible fury. She really will kill him.

The man is bleeding profusely, and he watches. Danzou is an enabler. The man who helped set into motion the events that led him here; led him to fratricide. He is also the man who took away Sakura's mentor. A woman who loved her. The person who saw something in her when no one else did.

And so he lets her have her fight. He has caused all the bloodshed he needs to end the ripping before sewing himself together again.

Sakura needs to break before she mends.

This he understands better than anybody.

What he doesn't understand is her actions.

She tosses Danzou against the wall and brushes past he himself, heading for the door. "Come on," she says icily, "We're leaving." Her tone leaves no room for question or argument.

"But-" But Uchiha Sasuke had never known to quit while he was ahead.

"Killing him would make me no better than him." She tells him sharply. She turns to face him, green eyes wild with ambiguities. "Better to let him live with what he's done."

"You know he won't feel any guilt." He replies, mind racing, heart rushing.

"No," she agrees, "but I did inject him with Paraphrenialisipitus. He'll be quadriplegic within the hour, left unable to talk or move; what harm can he do then?" she looks over her shoulder, every inch the avenging angel. "I want you to live a very long and empty life Danzou-sama." She spits.

There is pain.

There is respect.

Because this is the one thing that Sasuke could never have done that she has; spare the merciless.

Haruno Sakura is indeed very special.

X. There are no words.

Their first kiss is the most natural thing in the world. Naruto had even been there to witness it, and would forever have the bragging rights. They had simply been sitting beside each other; as if my reflex his arm had come up behind her on the couch as they watched the movie.

Feeling his movement she'd turned to face him, chin tilted upwards, freckled standing out against her skin in the blue reflected light of the television… She smiles. And he changes.

For her.

A/N: AND THEN THEY MADE OUT… This time they totally did too. I don't do fluff, not usually. And when I do it has tons of heaps and loads of sarcasm or angst. I'm pretty heavy on the angst despite being such a happy person.

Also: Grey's Anatomy reference anyone? Anyone?

I miss Mer and Derek. They're so cute. And they're barely in this season.

Shameless self-plug: Coup D'Etat. A team 7 multi-chap which hasn't been getting as much feedback as I'd like. I know, it's not usually my style to go around trolling for reviews but I like getting comments and knowing what you people think.

Also: I think that might be the first Sasusaku kiss I've ever written. Seriously. Or I might be lying. Either way. Hot right?

Know what's also hot? (besides your mom) reviews. They're steamy and toasty, even when not flames.

(Um…jk lulz? If you were there this summer PROPS TO YOU.)