dedication: this is a request from Abra Cadaverous. if you're interested, the information's in my forum! (i probably won't actually be writing them for a while though, if you're wondering what's taking me so long.)

prompt: she'd really like to break him, but it's too late for that, and fixing him will probably hurt more in the long run anyway.

warning: this fic focuses more on the little moments of sasusaku than the actual plot. i don't know, does that make sense? although a little less flashy, that makes the overall thing a tiny bit more precious. so i hope you guys like this all the same. :)

"Sakura." Kakashi's voice was soft in her ear. "I can handle this, if you want."

"No." She gripped her kunai harder. "I can do this."

She could do this.




a lack of color
to call at 7:03, and on your machine, i slur a plea for you to come home.




The first thing she wanted to do when he came home was punch him so hard a few of his teeth came out, but for Naruto's sake, she didn't.

The legal things were taken care of first. She and Naruto were there with him in Tsunade's office, along with Kakashi and Sai. Kakashi, because he was there since the beginning, and Sai, because he deserved to know what kind of person Sasuke was. But if Sakura was honest, she had no idea who he was anymore.

"Let's go to Ichiraku!" Naruto declared when they left the Hokage tower.

"Thanks, but I promised to train with Gai." Kakashi's smile was as deceptive as always. "I'm already late."

"I already ate earlier," Sakura said. "And my shift at the hospital starts in ten minutes, so I'm afraid catching up will have to wait for another time." Naruto looked a little down, but Sasuke was just as unreadable as ever. "I'll see you guys later?"

Sai raised his hand in a small wave. "See you, Ugly."

"Bye, Sakura-chan!"

Sasuke said nothing.

Kakashi walked Sakura part of the way to the hospital. The walk was generally quiet, but when it was time for them to go their different ways, he smiled knowingly. "Trying to avoid Sasuke-kun?"

She shrugged. "Not really." Yes. "I'd probably just make things awkward for him. He's always opened up to Naruto more." He's never wanted me there.

"Mm." He glanced in the direction of the hospital. "What about lunch?"

"I'll just grab something from the cafeteria and start my shift early." She smiled. "Don't worry about me." She knew that he could see right through her act, but Kakashi had never been one to pry.

"Alright, then. I'll see you around."

"Have fun with Gai-sensei!"

"Right. I'll try."

Sakura was the last person Sasuke wanted to spend time with when he returned to Konoha.

For the past seven years, he remembered this girl with pink hair and a big forehead and an even bigger mouth. He remembered a smart girl, but one unable to think quickly when in battle. He remembered an incompetent teammate.

Logically, she would've changed. She would've grown. He should've expected that. But for some reason, he didn't.

She was quiet when they were dealing with the papers in the Hokage's office, only speaking when she had a point, or was spoken to. Her eyes had hardened. She stood taller now, back straighter and shoulders broader. Prouder.

And not surprisingly, when being bombarded with Sai's taunts from one side and Naruto's yelling from the other, it was her quiet presence that he yearned for.

She blinked. "It hasn't even been a week since Sasuke's been back, and this already happens?"

"It's his fault, Sakura-chan!" Naruto pointed accusingly at the Uchiha who was sitting on the bed next to him. "He started it!"

"Look at you! You're covered in terrible burns!"

"Yeah! I swear, he wanted to kill me with that katon jutsu!" Sakura tended to Naruto first—he looked the nastiest. Sasuke's shoulder looked a little odd with the way it was angled, but he could manage. He always had the highest pain tolerance out of all of them.

"It's just a training session; take it easy…" She rolled her eyes and set to work, mending Naruto's skin. "You know, you're just a waste of chakra. Kyuubi could fix all of this in a couple of hours."

"But I like it better when you fix me!"

He was completely healed in under half an hour. There were some fractures here and there, and a wound to his head, but he seemed not to notice at all. When she moved onto Sasuke, both of them tensed, and a silence fell over the room.

Her hands pressed at his dislocated shoulder, finding how exactly it had been pushed from its socket. He visibly stiffened under her touch. "I'm going to set it back on the count of three," she told him, sounding impartial, the way she did with her other patients. "Okay?" He nodded once, and she settled her hands on the shoulder. "Okay. One…" She reset it. He grunted.

"You said on the count of three," he told her distastefully.

"It always hurts less when you don't expect it." She placed her hands on her hips. "Any other place that hurts?"

"Here." He pointed to the side of his head. She sighed.

"You guys have to stop assuming that a spar means a fight to the death."

"It's not a fight to the death!" Naruto protested. "I'm just a Jinchuuriki and he's an Uchiha! We're intense!"

"That's not called being intense. That's called being stupid."

Her hands brushed away the locks of Sasuke's hair to find the injury. She couldn't help but notice it wasn't how she remembered it to be. Back during her first chuunin exam, when Sasuke had been unconscious, she had tended to him. She remembered his hair was soft, well-tended to—but now it was coarser, thicker.

Everyone changed at some point, she supposed. In ways people wouldn't expect.

She tsked. "Your skull is fractured. Why are you still conscious?"

He merely shrugged.

Sasuke behaved while she healed his head, but he immediately tensed when she pat his shoulder and told him he was all done. This little bit of unnecessary physical contact made her recoil a little in her mind. If she were to be honest, she didn't think Sasuke would ever truly open up to her. No matter how hard she tried.

And she didn't know when it happened, but somewhere along the lines, she just stopped trying.

It was one day after dinner that Naruto wanted to pick up Sakura from the hospital, because her shift was ending soon, but couldn't, because Tsunade had summoned him for a mission. He assigned Sasuke the job, and without giving him the time to refuse, poofed off.

Needless to say, Sasuke was not pleased.

He wasn't planning to pick her up, but he had to pass the hospital—and really, most of the major landmarks in the village—to get to the Uchiha compound. He didn't want to give Naruto or Sakura the satisfaction of being there, but he found himself waiting underneath the lamppost anyway. Not close enough to the hospital to make it seem like he was waiting for her, but not too far to not keep an eye on the front door.

To be honest, he didn't know what he was doing—but he hadn't known for a long time.

She exited the hospital a few minutes later, looking a little tired, but altogether fine. It didn't take long for her to notice him—he was the only one around.

They stared at each other for a moment, and Sasuke wondered what he was supposed to do. It would be odd if he approached her. And what would he say? Apologies were in order, he was sure—but he had far too much dignity to apologize for anything.

"Hey. Sorry I knocked you out and left you on a bench. Did you catch a cold the next day?"

So instead, he shoved his hands in his pockets and walked off. That was all he knew how to do, after all: keep moving forward.

It would be incredibly satisfying to knock him out cold right now.

It wasn't so much that he had insulted her competence, but more of the fact that he had insulted Lee. What did he know about Lee? While Lee was working hard towards the future, he was chasing after the past. If he didn't have such a high pain tolerance, she'd snap his little neck in two. See how he liked that.

Lee stopped midsentence, and looked at her curiously. "Sakura-san? Are you alright?"

"Quite," she said stiffly, realizing that her hands were clenched into fists, and her shoulders were tense.

"You look a little stressed," he said, sounding worrisome. "Would you like me to find Neji? You know how good his massages are."

Sasuke snorted. "As if a Hyuuga could make her feel better."

Her head snapped toward him. "Better than you." Her words were so full of venom that it even surprised her. She hadn't really meant to say it—Inner Sakura was just getting out of hand ever since he returned to Konoha. Lee looked baffled, but Sasuke wasn't the least bit expressive.

She realized how much she hated that. It wasn't considered cool anymore, to not show your feelings.

"I'm…going to find Neji." She forced her hands to relax from their fists. "Do you know where he could be, Lee?"

"Um, the last time I saw him, he was heading home to meditate."

"Thank you."

She could feel Sasuke's eyes burning holes into her back, even after she turned the corner.

It was an odd sort of realization. A stupid one, really.

She didn't love him anymore.

When he voiced out his thoughts to Naruto, who was sharpening his kunai, the blonde merely stared at him like he was the stupid one. "Uh, obviously. I don't think even Sakura-chan would be stupid enough to hold on for that long. Or maybe she just realized how much of a bastard you are."

Would this feeling be considered disappointment?

"Hn." He leaned back against the trunk of the tree, basking in this new information. A life where Sakura didn't love him. A life where he wasn't the first person on Sakura's mind.

Perhaps this was for the better.

The sound of Naruto's weapons being sharpened made him feel restless.

Sakura gaped. "You knew it was an A-class mission, and you accepted it anyway?" She always knew Kakashi was crazy, but—well, she never knew Kakashi was crazy


He shrugged. "Why not?"

"You know perfectly why! Our teamwork isn't up to par yet! Can't Sai come on this with us instead of Sasuke?" He merely gave her a knowing look.

At the first opportunity, she was going to burn his entire Icha Icha collection.

It was only two months after Sasuke's return. Firstly, she felt that he hadn't nearly spent enough time in the village to be entrusted to a mission this important. Although he was never a threat to Konoha, it wasn't a secret that he had an irrational temper, and was difficult to work with. And secondly—well, there was no secondly. She just didn't want to work with him.

If she had to be honest, Sakura would say that in the last two months, she'd barely spoken more than twenty sentences to him. They trained together with Naruto and Kakashi, sometimes Sai and Yamato, but that didn't change the fact that they were completely out of sync.

Not that she expected anything more. They had never been in sync in the first place anyway.

"Kakashi-sensei," she said, voice saccharine sweet, "I'm going to kill you."

He smiled cheerily.

They met up with Naruto and Sasuke at a teahouse to discuss the mission details. Their client was a shady man who had a team of nukenin trailing and attacking him for the past month. It was their job to take them out.

"They're of jounin level or higher, most likely, if this is an A-class mission."

She couldn't see Sasuke's mouth hidden behind interlaced fingers, but she didn't except it looked very different from normal. "Naruto and Sakura are only chuunin."

"Both," she said stiffly, "of which have recently been recommended to be promoted to jounin."

"And you're still a genin anyway!" Naruto retorted. Sasuke didn't look happy about that fact. He was labeled by rank, but that didn't mean that he could most likely match an ANBU. Or three. They all knew this, but that didn't stop them from taunting him about it whenever they got the chance. Sakura would be disappointed once he had an equal or higher rank than her.

She would've gone to Tsunade and requested another medic take her place on the team, but this mission was going to earn her some big bucks. And if anything, she needed the money. She seriously needed to fix her fridge—it'd been a little faulty as of late. Chunky milk and moldy food wasn't exactly what she called a healthy diet.

The plan was to escort their client back to his village. He would be used as bait, and they would appear to be weak bodyguards. Once the nukenin were lured out, Sakura would take their client to a safe location, and join the other boys in kicking ass.

The first day came and went, with no excitement. Sasuke and Naruto bantered, Kakashi read, and she wondered when she could get a new fridge. Hers was faulty. They set up camp on the roadside, just a few feet into the trees to have a little coverage. Naruto distributed the cup ramen that he had packed for this trip, and Sakura found some water that they boiled over the campfire that Sasuke had made.

They took turns taking watch. When it was time for her to do so, everyone had fallen asleep. She poked at the fire idly with a stick.


Well. She thought everyone was asleep.

She didn't even look back at him. "Yes, Sasuke?"

He sat up in his sleeping back, resting his weight on his hands behind him. "I would like to ask a favor."

Her tone was different, then—not irritated, but lacking the warmth it usually had. Like the way she would treat a patient. Sasuke had come to realize that he hated it when she talked to him like that. "And what may that be?"

Didn't she confess her love to him? Didn't she beg him to stay all those years ago? Didn't she say her life was nothing without him?

She may not love him anymore, but that didn't mean she had to treat him like this.

"My eyesight is slowly deteriorating," he said slowly, not liking how he had to tell her about his weakness. This was only the one of many that he kept to himself.

"So you want me to fix them for you?" She looked at them, then. The campfire gave her skin a soft glow. "I'm flattered, really, but I don't think even Shishou could fix the Sharingan."

"You can suggest ways of delaying the process. You can fix some of the damage."

She stared at the ground, stabbing it with the stick in her hand. Eventually, she stabbed so hard that it snapped. "Why do I have to do this for you?" she asked quietly.

"You don't." He kept his eyes on her, watching her every move. "But I would…appreciate it." He knew for a fact that she had looked at Kakashi's eye before. She knew the general principals of the Sharingan, and how it worked. She could easily help him. It didn't bother him as much as it would've before, to have to ask for her help. The principals of teamwork were beginning to be engraved in his mind again, and it would be a lie if he said he didn't welcome it.

He could sleep easy. He could count on others. He could save those dear to him. He could redeem himself.

Sasuke had many weaknesses. One was that he was slowly going blind. Another was that he hopelessly, desperately, wanted to be loved.

She was stuck in a dilemma.

Should she help him? Every sane thought, and even instinct made her want to say yes. She wanted to show him that she was worth something, dammit, but no matter how many boulders she smashed, how many lives she saved, he wore the same expression. The expression that wasn't really an expression at all.

But he had asked her a favor. If not for herself, she should do this for Naruto. It would kill him to see their team fall apart after all that they'd done.

"Let me have a look," she said finally, getting onto her knees and crawling to him. "Please lay back down."

If only she meant something to him.

After so many healing sessions, whether it be from training or some other stupid reason, he didn't tense under her touch anymore. It was almost natural for her fingers to be pressed lightly against his skin—and she was surprised at how easily he could close his eyes around her now. His eyes were his greatest weapons.

It just wasn't fair. He threw everyone aside, and when he felt like it, he came right back and suffered no consequences. She had so many mixed feelings about Sasuke now, that she didn't even know which was predominant anymore. She wanted to fix him, wanted to show him—but at the same time, she just wanted to throw him off the edge of the world and laugh. But then he'd just stand right up and tell her pointedly that the world was round.

He'd always be coming back. This alone should've made her jump for joy, but it only made her press her fingers against his temples a little harder.

Her chakra weaved through his eyes, mapping out the internal structure. They were very similar to Kakashi's eye, she noticed, with some differences—most likely more development. He was an Uchiha by blood, after all.

But there was more damage, too. Microscopic lacerations were everywhere, slowly bleeding—there were also leaks in the chakra veins, affecting the actual eye.

She could fix all of that. But she couldn't fix the actual problem—the dulling and eventual death of his eyes. They were literally slowly shutting down on him—they've stopped working at their full potential long ago, she could tell. It was only a matter of time before they stopped working altogether.

By the time she had finished healing his eyes, she noticed that his breaths were deep and even. He'd fallen asleep.

It warmed her a little, that he could fall asleep even when he was in such a vulnerable position.

Maybe she could love him again. Maybe.

But just as a small smile met her lips and she reached out to brush his bangs out of his face, his eyes flashed open. Right. She had forgotten that he was a terribly light sleeper. And all those years with Orochimaru probably only made it worse.

They stared at each other for a long moment, and she finally sighed wearily, pulling her hand away. "It's your turn to take watch. Don't exert your Sharingan too much—your eyes haven't adjusted to being in better shape yet. If you use it suddenly, it'll just overload, and it'll get worse, twice as fast." She moved away and towards her sleeping bag. He didn't say anything.

So why was she wishing he did?

His eyes were already feeling better.

Before he had known it, he'd fallen asleep to the feel of her chakra. It was sort of this comfort he'd never known—or maybe he had, once upon a time. It reminded him of a mother's touch. It only disgusted him for a few short moments that he was letting his guard down around her, of all people—but that disappeared quickly.

Sakura was worthy of his acknowledgement. He knew that.

He exhaled softly, kindling the fire. Naruto snoring was still unbearably loud, as always. And Sakura. Sakura had always stirred up unwanted feelings in him. He watched her sleep, chest rising and falling in steady breaths. She was beautiful, he realized. Not in that striking way, like Yamanaka Ino. She was beautiful with her words, with her actions, with her intentions. He'd always known this somewhere, in the back of his mind—but he'd always been too afraid to acknowledge it.

So what made it different now?

He was growing, he finally decided. Just growing. Just finally opening his eyes to what was around him.

It was after two hours of kindling the fire—two hours of watching Sakura sleep—that he moved towards Kakashi's sleeping form to wake him for his shift. He didn't have to, though. He was already awake.

His former teacher gave him a look, but said nothing.

And he was glad.

The next morning passed by without much interesting happening. They were almost reaching the half point to their client's village.

She could sense Kakashi's worry. If they successfully escorted their client back, they won't have any bait to lure out the nukenin. That would mean no mission payment, and probably having cup ramen again tonight.

"Man, this is so boring." Naruto sidled up next to Sakura, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and pulling her close. She leaned into him, thoroughly enjoying the warmth and physical contact. But it was more of the fact that it was Naruto, and he'd always been there to support her through everything. "Do you want to go for ramen once we get back?"

"Can't," she grumbled. "I don't have enough money to treat myself, let alone both of us."

"Oh, whatever. Sasuke will treat us, right?" They both looked at Sasuke—Naruto more expectantly than Sakura—and the Uchiha just grunted.

Sakura guessed that Naruto was grinning, even though she couldn't see it, because she could feel the same excitement bubbling in her blood. Both of them leapt apart at the same moment when a kunai came whizzing at them, stabbing the ground. There was an explosive tag on it.

Now, this is what I'm talking about.

Everybody was already on alert, and she caught Sasuke activating his Sharingan just before she turned to their client and ushered him another way. Kakashi was calmly tucking his book back into his holster, and Naruto—well, Naruto was being Naruto. Shouting, mainly.

"Back me up here," she called to the blonde, sensing faint chakra signatures moving in the trees around her. They'd attack her and their client first, and she didn't want to fight just yet, in case their client got caught in the crossfire. Of course, several Narutos came to the rescue, buffering their enemies' attacks when kunai, shuriken and explosive tags came flying at her. For jounin, they were being oddly assertive.

It was less than a minute later that she became rather irritated, and just picked up their client and took off in a chakra-enhanced run, trying to jostle him as little as possible. She set him down a little ways away in the grass, amongst the trees, and performed a series of hand seals. "Please don't move from here," she told him patiently. "We'll come get you as soon as it's over."

"And you can ensure my safety how?" He looked around, surveying their surroundings. "I'll be defenseless if they find me."

"That's the point. They won't. I laid a genjutsu around you—it's one of my specialties. You'll be fine." She smiled a little at him, before taking off again.

When she returned to the scene, she was a little disappointed. There were four enemies—Naruto was dealing with two, Kakashi with one, and Sasuke with the last one. That left none for her. Sighing, she crossed her arms and leaned back against a tree. At least she could enjoy the show—

"Sasuke, behind you!" The Uchiha spun around with lightening speed and deflected a volley of senbon. She blinked.

Why did she even say that? Obviously he'd notice one of the other enemies attacking him—they were thrown in a linear fashion, despite the oddly colored sheen of poison that they were coated with. She frowned at herself, and was about to turn to watch Kakashi—she'd always liked seeing him in action—but caught a stumble in Sasuke's movements.

Although she hadn't been with Sasuke for very long before he defected Konoha or after he came back, she knew his fighting style well enough. He was quick, quiet, and stealthy. He liked to finish things without a mess or a loud bang. He moved with a deadly grace that few other shinobi possessed. And that—that stumble was certainly not part of his style. Her eyes narrowed and she assessed him. There were no injuries as far as she could see, so why…

Oh. Of course. Obviously. She told him not to overexert his Sharingan, but no, he never listens…

She couldn't help but smirk a little. She'd see how long he'd fare, before she came to his rescue. Then he'd notice her.

Or maybe—okay, well, maybe that wasn't such a good idea…

She faced a problem when a kunai was placed delicately over Sasuke's throat. His vision was probably failing him right now, and that gave him no position to fight on his own. But if she moved at all, there wasn't a doubt that the nukenin would kill him. The shinobi stared at her with an air of triumph.

"Give us the man," he snarled, pressing the blade harder against Sasuke's throat, drawing a little blood. Her breath hitched.

She scoffed. "As if." Come on, Sasuke. There was no way a little bit of blurred vision would have him like this. He was more than that. Of course he was more than that—he was Sasuke, after all. The Uchiha stared ahead blankly—left, right, up, down. For a moment, his eyes landed right on her, but he looked away as if she was nothing. Was he completely blind? Dammit.

"Do you want your buddy to die?" the nukenin asked threateningly, jostling Sasuke a bit.

Come on, Sasuke…

Around them, it seemed like Naruto and his shadow clones were taking care of Kakashi's opponent now, too. Her teacher came up beside her, crouched with a kunai in hand. Good idea. Kunai. She got one of her own in her holster, eyes on Sasuke and the nukenin the entire time.

"I can handle this, if you want." Kakashi's voice was soft. He was giving her an easy way out.

It would be so easy to just make a sudden movement and have Sasuke dead. So easy to loom over his corpse and say, "Hah, in your face. You were never strong after all."

Her grip tightened on her kunai. "No. I can do this."

Kakashi's tone hardened in both worry and caution. "Sakura…"

"I can do this." It was as natural as breathing. No matter how hard she tried to stop, she'd still suck in needy breaths of air when she couldn't take it any longer.

She just couldn't not love Sasuke. And it wasn't because she wanted to marry him and start a family with him—it was just that he was her friend, her teammate, her family—no matter how much she denied it.

And no matter how much you denied your need for oxygen, you still needed it.

She advanced slowly on the nukenin. For every step she took towards him, he took two back, causing Sasuke to stumble along with him. As the seconds passed, the nukenin's expression became more fierce and desperate.

"Do you not care about your teammates?"

Her lips twisted into a grim smile. "I don't know which village you defected from, but I'm sure you've taken the proper training to be a shinobi. Every village has the same curriculum. Remember the book of shinobi rules?" Oh, those rules were the death of her. "Do you remember the very first one?" He didn't answer, but she knew he knew. "It said that the mission always came first. If sacrifices must be made, then so be it. In other words: duty before honor."

Right then, it seemed that all was quiet. Kakashi was deathly still behind her—she couldn't even hear his breathing. "Sakura-chan?" Naruto sounded shell-shocked. It seemed he had taken care of the other three.

The nukenin sneered. "I'll kill him. Your other teammates don't look so happy about that. You Leaf-nin have always been pathetic. You're probably bluffing anyway."

She narrowed her eyes. "Yeah?" she taunted, holding up her kunai. "You want to bet on that?"

"Sakura," Kakashi said in warning.

"It's fine, Kakashi-sensei. I can handle this."

"This isn't what you call handling it!" Naruto shouted. "This is—after everything we did to get Sasuke back—" Her heart clenched at his words. Oh, Naruto, if only you could see.

"We got him back." She closed her eyes briefly. "We got him back, but he isn't changing. He isn't going to change, Naruto—his hatred is in his very bones now! Are you blind? The least he could do is be of use for a stupid mission!" She glared at the nukenin. How dare he. If anyone was killing Sasuke, it'd be her. "Now, are you ready?"

He scowled. "Crazy bitch…" But she was already attacking, running at lighting speed with her kunai at the ready.

"Sakura-chan! No!"

She swore, she would've actually hit the nukenin if he didn't dodge. And if he didn't throw Sasuke's clumsy body in the way. Her blade slashed him instead, and he crumpled surprisingly easily under her attack, falling right into Naruto's waiting arms. Stupid asshole, treating Sasuke like he was nothing but a dummy. Not even sparing her fallen teammate a second glance, she dropped her kunai and crashed her heel into the earth, creating giant cracks. This caught him off guard—it always did, really—and gave her the chance to land a punch right in his jaw, successfully shattering the left side of his face. He fell to the ground, unconscious.

Mission accomplished.

As she turned around, readjusting her gloves, she saw Naruto crouched over Sasuke. Kakashi was where she last saw him—their eyes locked, and she smiled weakly.

"Sakura-chan…" Naruto sounded absolutely shattered. "How could you…?"

"How could I what?"

"Attack Sasuke!" He looked up at her fiercely, and she was surprised to see his eyes flashing from red back to blue. He was teetering angry and absolutely anguished. "I thought he mattered more than that!"

"But," she said confusedly, glancing at Sasuke's crumpled figure on the ground, "I didn't even hit his throat. More like his arm. And that's not even Sasuke. I thought you knew me better than that."

Naruto blinked. "What?"

And just then, Sasuke's body disappeared in a puff of smoke. Oh, what would shinobi do without shadow clones…

Sasuke came strolling out of the trees behind Kakashi, hands in his pockets. "I'm surprised you figured it out before Kakashi did, Sakura."

She shrugged. "I didn't figure it out. I just assumed. You couldn't be beaten down so easily."

Naruto looked around frantically—from Sasuke, then to Sakura, then to Kakashi, and back to Sasuke—"Wait, what the hell is going on?"

"That was a shadow clone from the start, Naruto. I thought you would've picked up on it after a while—I mean, even I wouldn't attack Sasuke like that…" She couldn't help but grin, because for once, she was the star of Team Seven. For once, she did something that mattered. Kakashi hadn't intervened, and let her do what she needed to do. She had to give him more credit.

Naruto stared at her dumbly. "Oh."

While they went to fetch their client, she could feel Sasuke's eyes on her back—but somehow, they didn't seem as heavy anymore.

The day after they returned to Konoha, everyone already knew the story. Sakura had pulled up her pants and got the job done, despite the fact that Sasuke's pretty face was in her way. She completely had Naruto fooled, and had gained more approval from Kakashi.

Although almost everyone knew that she had moved on from Sasuke, this seemed to give some actual proof.

This story, Sasuke thought, seemed to have an anticlimactic sort of ending. But not all stories had fantastic endings.

"Y'know," Sakura said idly as they watched Naruto and Kakashi spar, "I would've really liked to break you in some way. Punch your face in, rip your spleen out, step all over your dignity—something." He found it a little frightening, how she could say all of that with such ease.

"So why don't you?" he asked, feigning nonchalance.

She shrugged. "I don't think there's anything left for me to break. And besides"—she smiled cheekily then—"fixing you will probably hurt more in the long run anyway."

There was a pregnant pause, where he wondered whether he should run for his life or not. "On that note, could you take a look at my eyes? I may have strained them from that mission."

She smiled brightly—far too happy to be completely genuine, but there was some honesty in it. "Sure."

So he lay down in the grass, letting her fingers touch his temples.


notes: i'm finding it more and more difficult to think up plots that aren't au. it really sucks. D: i really hope this was okay!

this is a little out of the blue and completely irrelevant to the fic, but when i put suggested listenings, do you guys even listen to them? i'm not going to stop putting them, but it's just out of curiosity, haha.