Title: home for christmas
Summary: It's been two years, and Sakura is tired of waiting.
Author's Notes: AU. Written for the 25 Days of Christmas at the sasusaku livejournal comm.
"I'll be back December Twenty-fifth," Sasuke said over the phone, and for once Sakura wanted to believe him.
She smiled, but it was the broken smile of a girl who's been slowly embittered. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?"
Sasuke's voice was indecipherable, over the phone. "Yeah," he said.
Two years. Two years of phone calls and emails and not a single visit. Two years of waiting and wishing and wanting and knowing that her wishes won't come true.
"You know, you said the same thing last year," she said, attempting to keep the conversation light, although she knew that she was too transparent, because surely he could hear the tears prickling at the corners of her eyes.
Sasuke didn't answer that.
"I just wonder, you know," she said wistfully. "Whether it's even worth waiting so long, when you won't even make an effort."
"I told you, my Uncle had a scholarship dinner for me to attend-"
"No," Sakura snapped. "I don't want to hear the excuses anymore. Please, Sasuke-kun."
"I'll be there," Sasuke said, and there was new conviction in his voice. "So wait for me… please."
"OK," Sakura said to him. She waited a moment. "I love you," she said, but it was too late – he'd already hung up the phone.
"I see you've booked a flight to Japan."
Sasuke looked up from his history textbook to see his dark-haired uncle standing in the doorway. He nodded, a little curtly. "Yeah," he replied. No need to hide it – Madara would see through any attempts to lie.
"I'm afraid that won't be possible," the elder Uchiha said nonchalantly. "You see, I already scheduled a dinner with several of my business partners, for you to attend."
Sasuke met his uncle's eyes defiantly. "You'll just have to tell them I won't be making it," he said.
"Not possible," Madara said dismissively. "This is a very important dinner. If you were to not attend, consider my financial support of your schooling over."
And with that ultimatum, Madara left, closing the door quietly behind him.
Sasuke glared at the door for a long time, his fists clenched in anger.
Outside the small coffee shop it was snowing, wet white flakes peppering the Tokyo streets. Inside, it was warm for the singular patron waiting, as the hours drew on. The staff was likely cleaning tables in other sections of the coffee shop, out of Sakura's eyesight.
A lone waitress stopped by her table. "More coffee?" she asked.
"Please," Sakura replied, giving the waitress her empty cup.
"Did the person you were waiting for get lost?" the waitress asked. "You've been here for hours already!"
Sakura shook her head, and it was a little bitter at the waitress's reminder that she had been sitting here for so long, waiting. "No, I don't think so," she said. "He's probably not even coming."
"Oh," the waitress said. "Well, we close in an hour. You can wait until then."
"Thank you," Sakura said. She looked back outside, to the snow falling silently, blanketing the city. It had to be bitterly cold outside right now. She wrapped her fingers around her coffee, and wondered what Sasuke would say this time. How many times had she heard that his uncle wanted him to do something? Or that he'd had something come up in school?
She tried to hold onto her anger, to hide from herself just how miserable she was.
The minutes on the clock ticked by, Sakura watching the clock on her phone anxiously. She glanced over at the waitress, who was almost looking expectant, like Sasuke was going to come bursting through the coffee-shop doors like some last-minute prince. Hah.
And yet Sakura could not bear to move from her seat, not until the clock reached the stroke of nine o'clock.
She looked outside furtively, and almost imagined that she saw someone walking toward the coffee shop with unruly hair and dark eyes. But no, it turned out to be someone different.
She sighed, looked at the clock once again, wrapped her scarf around her neck and donned her coat. She left enough money to cover the bill, and then – with a forced smile at the kind waitress – stepped out into the bitter cold.
Hugging her jacket about herself, Sakura started on the long walk home.
Her cell phone rang suddenly in her purse, and Sakura immediately knew who it was. She opened it.
"Sasuke?" she demanded sharply.
"Sakura, I'm sorry-"
Oh, he was sorry, was he? Sorry for making her wait for four hours in a coffee shop? Sorry for being gone for two years?
"No, Sasuke, you're not," she snapped. "I don't want any more excuses."
And she ended the call. A moment later, she turned off the phone for good.
She would listen to her messages – if he was decent enough to leave her one – tomorrow, when the pain had cooled somewhat. She was not ready right now, when she could feel her tears welling up.
Sakura wiped them away impatiently and continued the walk toward home. Her path took her through Ueno Park, and a familiar park bench between two street lamps. It was only half a mile away from her apartment building.
Sakura brushed off the snow and sat down on the bench, letting the tears and pain overcome her. She was tired of wishing and waiting and wanting and Sasuke doing nothing. She still loved him, and that made it worse, because it hurt so much.
She remembered this park where they had had their first kiss, and where she had gone after their first fight. They had been in high school then. It seemed like a different lifetime.
The snow was cold, but Sakura stubbornly did not care. She waited there until her hands were numb, until she heard heavy footsteps on the path and almost thought she heard the sound of her name in the distance.
"I hoped you'd be here," said a familiar voice, and it was out of breath. "You always came here when you were mad at me."
Hardly wanting to believe it, Sakura looked up.
And there he was. Out of breath, facing her, hair unruly and eyes dark as coal. Face a little older than it was when he left, but she would know him anywhere.
"Sasuke-kun!" She leaped up from the park bench and wrapped her arms around him. "You're here!"
"Sorry I'm late," he said. "The plane was delayed because of the snow."
Sakura shook her head against his shoulder. "I'm happy," she said, and it finally felt right, to just hold him as he held her back. "Thanks for coming."
"I'm staying until New Years," Sasuke replied to her softly.
Sakura pulled back to look Sasuke in the eyes, suddenly shocked. "I thought you spent the New Year with your uncle," she said, surprise evident in her voice.
"Well, he already pulled all of his financial backing, so what else can he do?" Sasuke said, almost flippantly.
"He did?" Sakura demanded. "Sasuke, I'm sorry. You should have told me-"
"I don't care," Sasuke said emphatically. "I have enough scholarships that I should get by fine with a part time job." His dark eyes met hers, and Sakura felt a rush of warmth through her. "Besides, it wasn't worth it."
Sakura smiled and kissed him suddenly. Sasuke kissed her back just as eagerly.
"Merry Christmas," Sasuke said softly.
Sakura grinned. "Let's go to my apartment," she said. "It's freezing out here."
Sasuke took her hand, and they left.