notes: it strays from the plot after he kills itachi, 'cause i can do that. :) muahaha.
suggested listening: 2am – alexz johnson
if i said i was truly over you, my heart would say amen, but i'd give in to the cold caress of 2AM.
A seven-year-old Sakura stands up determinedly. "I don't look funny! Ino-chan said so!"
Sasuke looks at her, confused. "I never said you look funny."
"I can tell with the way you're looking at me! Don't think I don't know!" She bends down and gathers some snow into her gloved hands, packing it into a snowball. When Sasuke watches her curiously, she smirks with triumph and throws it at him. It's a bad throw; it sails high in the air, but it does its purpose—it lands right on top of his little head.
He feels like crying. "I don't think you look funny!" he says again, making a snowball of his own. "I think you're pretty." And he throws it at her, but it lands at her feet.
She seems to think about this for a moment, before coming to a consensus with herself. "Do you want to make a snowman with me?"
Sasuke sniffs, bottom lip trembling. He likes snowmen. "O-Okay."
"And snow angels?"
"Do I have to?" He doesn't like snow angels. She starts making another snowball. "Okay!"
"Merry Christmas!" She thrusts a package at him, and he takes it, confused. It looks like she's blushing, but it could just be from the cold air.
"Thanks," he says shyly. "What is it?"
"Open it and see!" She's excited.
"But it's not even Christmas yet."
"Just open it," she whines. Ever since their first encounter, Sasuke has spent lots of time with Sakura, and he's noticed that she likes to whine a lot. But it's very cute whining, so it's okay.
So he opens it, and he speculates what's inside for a moment, before he realizes that they're cookies. "Thanks," he tells her, smiling.
She grins. "Try one!"
And truth be told, they don't even look like cookies—when he tries to bite into one, it's rock hard, and he has to struggle to break it with his teeth. And when he does and he chews on it, he thinks that the gesture is rather sweet (even if the cookies themselves are not), because no one has ever given him anything before.
"They're good," he says, but really, he's choking on them.
She looks happy. "Then I'll make more!"
These cookies are good, he tries to convince himself. And because Sakura is the one who made them, they are.
"Oh, Sasuke-kun brought a friend over!" He blushes, because this is the first time he's ever brought a friend over, and she's a girl, which means she has cooties, which is why he never lets her touch him—but she's still Sakura and she's pretty with the red ribbon in her hair, and she's fun and her cookies are slowly getting better. So he brings her over.
"Mother, this is Sakura," he introduces. His mom asks if she would like some hot chocolate, because it's cold outside, and she happily accepts. She loves hot chocolate.
So they're drinking hot chocolate in his room, and he's showing her his ninjutsu scrolls and the Uchiha katon jutsu that he's going to learn one day, until the door slides open and his older brother, Itachi, enters.
"Mother would like me to tell you that dinner is ready," he says, eyes scanning the room.
"Okay," Sasuke says, smiling.
And as Itachi's leaving the room, he says, "Father wouldn't want you to be showing those scrolls to anyone." And the door slides shut.
Sasuke feels a little ashamed, and pulls the scroll that Sakura's currently reading out of her hands. "Sorry," he mumbles. "I'll get scolded." And sometimes, he wishes he has a family as nice as Sakura's, as carefree as Sakura's—a family that lets her go out and play with friends, instead of expecting her to train.
"It's okay." She smiles brightly. "Your brother looks nice. Let's go have dinner!" Both of them stand up, and she pulls him by the hand out the door.
And he completely forgets about the cooties.
"We're going to be the best shinobi one day," she tells him, swinging her legs while sitting on the dock of the pond in his backyard. "We'll work together and beat all of the bad guys!"
He grins. "And then I'll be the Hokage and you'll be my personal assistant."
"And then we can get married!"
He blushes furiously at this, and has to turn away to hide it. Uchiha do not blush, he reminds himself, clenching his hands into fists. Uchiha do not blush.
But he is blushing, and he can't help but wonder why.
The massacre happens.
Sakura melts out of his life, and he completely forgets about her. Just like the cooties.
When the genin teams are assigned, he's with Sakura. He vaguely remembers a younger girl with short pink hair and a red ribbon—bright green eyes and the prettiest smile—but the girl he sees now is not her. The girl he sees now is different; long hair and a voice that doesn't lull him to sleep during naptime anymore—rather, one that wakes him up.
And he feels a little sad, but it's nothing compared to the loss of his family.
Sasuke-kun, Sasuke-kun, Sasuke-kun. It's always Sasuke-kun. And maybe that's what's changed the most—because to her, he's not a friend anymore, not someone she can confide in—but a boy she has to impress and look pretty for. He thinks he misses being called Sasuke, but he can't be sure, because he doesn't think of her much.
He carefully puts her in the back of his mind, and locks her away.
The days with Orochimaru pass by quickly. He trains and he grows stronger and he will kill that man.
But the nights are slow. He closes his eyes and he dreams of green eyes and pink hair and does he know this girl? Why does she keep appearing?
Sasuke hates it when he doesn't know something. So he stops sleeping.
He stops dreaming.
When Itachi falls and stops breathing, he feels so triumphant. The adrenaline makes him high, and all he can do for a long while is sit there in the rain, laughing.
But once he comes down from that high, he wonders where he is and who he is and where is he supposed to go now and what is he supposed to do?
He isn't quite sure how much time has passed—time doesn't matter to him—but when he's older (yes, older—more mature, more intelligent, more successful), he meets this girl. She's alone, but he can see her chakra with his eyes—and she's a strong girl.
"Hi, Sasuke." Her voice is soft, and somehow, he likes the way she says his name. "Why don't you come home?"
"I don't have a home," he tells her, and who in the world is she?
"Yes you do," she insists. "Everyone in Konoha is waiting for you. Naruto and Kakashi are waiting. C'mon. You don't have anymore goals to fulfill, right?"
He narrows his eyes. "How do you know Naruto and Kakashi?" And he swears, she's someone from Konoha, trying to brainwash him and bring him back. She's a strong kunoichi—he would have to be wary around her.
Her green eyes strike a chord somewhere inside of him. "You don't remember me?"
And maybe he's the one with the problem, because it feels like he should remember.
Maybe she's a bad memory. Maybe he doesn't want to remember her. So he doesn't.
"Who are you?" he asks.
She looks at him for a long moment. "Try to remember," she says softly. "If you don't want to come back, why don't we meet in the Snow Country on Christmas? You…" She pauses, as if reliving a memory. "You used to love Christmas. And the snow. You really loved the snow."
He doesn't answer, and it doesn't seem like she expects him to. In a flurry of leaves, she's gone.
And for the first time in a long time, he starts counting the days.
While he's washing his face in a creek, he remembers her. He remembers how her name and her hair match, and how she loves hot chocolate and baking cookies and how, the last time they met, she called him Sasuke and not Sasuke-kun, and, and, and—
He remembers why he forgot her.
Missing her is so much more painful.
He can sort of remember Christmas to be a warm, happy, fluffy time—for the lack of a better word. He anticipates it like a child would, and arrives in the Snow Country on Christmas Eve.
It's quiet. It's snowing softly, soundlessly, and he watches it from inside a cave.
It's been quiet for too long.
"You came." She sounds surprised.
"I would be rude to leave you hanging."
Her smile is small, but it's there. "And since when have you ever worried about manners?"
"Since I killed Itachi." He's trying to make conversation, trying to make her laugh—trying to show her that he deserves her, and that he'll make up for every terrible thing he's ever done to her.
She shivers a little, and pulls her travelling cloak tighter around herself. Then, her eyes light up. "Would you like to build a snowman?"
It's a snowman of epic proportions, if Sasuke does say so himself. It stands right in front of a large pine tree, with shuriken buttons and a kunai nose. When he stands up straight, he only reaches up to its chin.
"I wish I had a camera," Sakura sighs, putting her hands on her hips. "I want to show Naruto. He'd be so jealous of me."
"He'd be building a snowman ten times larger than this one."
She laughs, and he realizes how much he's really missed her—spending time with her without thinking about anything else—without worrying about his life, or his family, or his revenge. It's just him and her and snow, snow, snow.
"Kakashi would call us children," he continues, smirking wryly. The first time he's smirked in years.
"Yeah—wait." She looks at him, green eyes wide. "You remember?"
"I've never forgotten about Naruto or Kakashi." The air suddenly changes, and even though the sky was grey to begin with, it's as if he only notices it now. It's quiet, and the snow crunches underneath her weight as she shifts on her feet.
"But do you remember…me?" It's a question that she's been longing to say the entire time—he knows it, because he knows her.
He regards her evenly. "You're Haruno Sakura. A medic, a Leaf-nin, the apprentice of Tsunade. A former member of Team Seven." He pauses. "My childhood friend."
And she smiles the widest she's ever smiled the entire afternoon, and she reaches out to hug him, but he pulls back suddenly (cooties, cooties, cooties), almost as if on instinct. She freezes, and drops her arms.
"Right," she whispers. "Sorry. You never liked being touched."
And he wishes he didn't pull away.
"Let's get some dinner," he suggests, pulling a kunai out. "I noticed some snow hares around here yesterday."
And so the catch dinner and make their way back to the cave he's staying in with an awkward silence looming over them. Her damp travelling cloak is left to dry, and they sit by the fire he's made, warm and toasty. She flinches, just a little, when he skins their hare.
"Why won't you come home?" she asks, hugging her knees to her chest.
"Because it's not home," he answers without hesitation.
"Home isn't the place." Her voice is muffled by her knees, but somehow, he can still hear her clearly. "It's the people. Team Seven is your home. We're your home." He hears her unsaid words. I'm your home.
He doesn't answer, and merely continues cooking their dinner.
They eat in silence, but it's a comfortable silence. Once in a while, one of them says something, but the conversation never lasts. And he doesn't expect it to—it never has, and he's glad for that, because silence is good, silence is peace, and silent means quiet contemplation and thoughts and intelligence.
"I have this Christmas tradition," she says suddenly, reaching into her pack, "where I bring cookies with me everywhere I go." And she reveals a small bag of cookies. "I think it's just a habit from back then, but by the end of the day, they're usually gone, so I keep on doing it. I, um—made these for you." And he can't help but note how normal they look, how…cookie-like they are, compared to back then.
"Thank you." He takes one, and they're just plain oatmeal cookies—he was kind of hoping for peanut butter ones—and eats it. "It's good."
"Are you just lying to make me happy again?" she teases, nudging him with her shoulder.
"Even if I did, you wouldn't be able to tell," he shoots back wryly.
"Well, I've had a lot of practice." She takes one for herself, and nibbles at it. A ghost of a smile passes his lips as he watches her and the way the fire is reflected in her eyes, but he makes sure it's not very obvious.
The hours pass, and they take turns tending to the fire. It's so warm, Sasuke thinks—not because of the flames, but because of her. She makes him so warm. The snow outside is slowly drifting to the ground, and somehow, they're sitting so close. When did that happen?
"Do you still love me?" Sakura mumbles sleepily, subconsciously leaning against him. For once, he lets her.
"I don't think you're awake enough for me to take that seriously," he says flatly.
(Or maybe he doesn't want to answer. Maybe he doesn't know.)
"I'm awake," she protests, but her speech is a little slurred. "I still love you."
"Right," he says. "You're not awake enough." But he feels happy, because even though she's on the verge of falling asleep on him, she said she still loves him, and that is so much more than he could ever ask for.
"I love you," she repeats, sitting up straight and looking at him. She's really tired, he observes. Has she been working herself too hard lately? "Do you still love me?"
"What makes you think I ever loved you in the first place?"
She smiles fondly. "I think I'm one of the few people who could ever read you properly. Why else would I have ever chased after you so desperately in our genin days? You loved me. Or Ino would've kicked my ass otherwise."
They're sitting so close—close enough for him to feel her soft breath on his lips. Their noses are mere centimeters apart, and her eyes are half-shut. He raises his hand, and his fingers barely graze her cheek as he pulls himself a little closer.
(What he's wanted for years and years and years.)
She inhales deeply, and she closes the space between them a little more. The moment seems so delicate—he's so afraid he'll break it. He's broken her so many times before, and he swears, if he does it one more time, he'll never forgive himself—
"You're right," she finally breathes, pulling away. "I'm not awake enough. I might as well be drunk." And suddenly, the warmth disappears.
Sasuke doesn't know what he did wrong.
"Sorry," she murmurs. "I don't think I'm ready for anything yet. Not when you're not willing to come home."
And he remembers what she said. "I am home, because you're here."
"I can't handle a Sasuke who can't even smile or express himself properly. Orochimaru broke you down. Itachi broke you down. You—you broke yourself down." She pulls her pack close, and uses it as a pillow as she lies down on the hard ground. "I fell in love with the Sasuke who hated snow angels and apologized for things when I he accidentally hurt my feelings."
And he doesn't say it, because his pride always gets in the way, but he knows that there's still some of that younger Sasuke in him, somehow, somewhere.
"We can start over," he says quietly. Wipe the slate clean. Just be children again.
She smiles, looking despondent. "I can. But can you?"
"You won't know unless you try."
She sits up again, a little more enthusiastic. "Okay. Let's do this." She pastes on the widest smile she can; it even reaches her eyes, and he thinks she's the most beautiful thing that's he's ever seen. "Hi. I'm Sakura. Merry Christmas." She pauses. "I love you."
And he swears, he tries to smile back—his mouth is protesting—but he manages a smirk-smile. "I'm Sasuke," he says. "Merry Christmas." And his throat closes it. "I—I love you…too."
It's silent for a long moment, and she relaxes. "Okay. You can kiss me now."
And so he does.
"This giant snowman is actually rather unnerving. People are going to think that it's a declaration of war." Sakura looks at their creation, putting her hands on her hips.
"We could destroy it," he suggests. After they take away the weapons, of course. They're useful.
"But that's a shame…"
"I'll teach you an Uchiha katon jutsu to melt it," he tells her seriously. To make up for the scrolls you could never read when we were children.
She lights up immediately. "Really?"
He nods towards the snowman. "Only if I can keep the weapons. And have the rest of the cookies."
She giggles. "Okay."
notes: man, i wish i could've seen that snowman. will someone draw some fanart of that for me? :3 with sharpie and stuff. all chibi-like and warm and fluffy. HAHA, right.
written for the twenty-five days of christmas project on the sasusaku lj community. merry christmas, and happy holidays! (sorry, i'd probably offend you if i tried to spell any other holiday names.)
i was going for the heartwarming, christmas feeling. did i get it? :3