"Since when do you haunt the library?"

He doesn't even say hello, just asks this before dropping himself into a chair opposite from her, propping his foot up on the beautifully varnished wooden table. Sakura flinches.

"…I'm looking for a remedy…" she murmurs without even looking up. "And actually, I used to come here all the time when we were younger. If you remember."

"Remedy for what?" Sasuke asks, ignoring her other comment which was clearly meant to sting him.

She took her time, turning the page.

"Insomnia," she said. "A little boy in the hospital. It's getting to the point where he can hardly even remember simple things because his mind doesn't rest. I'm doing some research."

"Tsunade asked you?"


She doesn't elaborate, so Sasuke doesn't ask. He just sits in silence for a long time, staring out the window. For reasons he can't explain, he has been finding her company strangely comforting ever since returning, in a way he never enjoyed it when they were teammates. He thinks it's because she doesn't ask questions. Of course, she doesn't say anything else either, but that's besides the point. It's a little strange, considering how outgoing she used to be.

"Find anything?" he finally asked, just to break the silence.

"Do you really care?" she asked.

Fair point, he admitted, in his head.

"I'm hurt too, you know," he said.

She looked up for the first time. "Are you serious?" her voice was grave.

Sasuke merely stared at her.

"Where?" she asked.

He paused, then shook his head, as graceful as ever. "Secret," he said.

She looked away again. "You should go see Tsunade-sama," she muttered, trying to read some more.

"Tsunade can't fix me," he replied.

"And why not?" her voice shook. She had been on the same passage for three minutes.

"I think you know why not."

He drummed his fingers on the table.

"You know, it was really terrible living with Orochimaru," he said conversationally, as if talking about the weather.

Sakura's ears grew hot. He had never brought this up voluntarily…

"It was cold and damp in the chambers…and there were only torches to see by. Never sunlight."

"And that's what made it bad, was it?" Sakura's voice was really shaking.

Sasuke shrugged. "Partly. Of course, then there was always the switching-bodies-with-a-giant-filthy-snake thing. That took some getting used to."

Was that a joke? Though there was really nothing funny about it, Sakura found herself pressing her lips together to smother the strange laughing impulse.

"I had to do it at least twice a week," Sasuke continued in a deadpan voice, looking out the window. "So filthy and slimy. Not to mention the smell…"

He seemed to be relishing the details. He took his feet off the table and leaned forward to Sakura, lifting her chin so that she had to take her eyes off the book and look at him. His eyes bored into hers.

"Do you want to know what it feels like to be branded with a cursed seal?" he asked softly.

Sakura swallowed, unable to look away. "No."

For the first time, Sasuke smiled. Just slightly, but even so. He slid his hand back to the end of her jaw.

"Good, because I was unconscious while he did it."

Sakura couldn't help but snort a little bit at that that.

Cautiously, as if nervous about not having permission, Sasuke leaned in and kissed her briefly on the lips. He drew back immediately afterwards as if embarrassed and rubbed the back of his neck.

"It's cold in here," he commented, while Sakura absorbed the surprise of his action. "Want to go get food?"

"...As long as it's not ramen, I suppose," she replied after a pause. She wanted to stay angry with him, but was finding it difficult.

"Yeah, don't want to run into Naruto, do we?" Sasuke agreed, standing up and extended his hand. "Come on."

Sakura took it, feeling that she was beginning to understand why Tsunade couldn't help Sasuke.


Written on request, but it was surprisingly fun. Hope you liked it! :)