It's been a while so I thought I'd put out something new. Please excuse the generic title. Picking titles really isn't one of my strongpoints, as you can see. =S I plan on continuing this one so tell me what you think so far. Constructive criticism is appreciated. Flames aren't. =)
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and sadly, I never will.
Sitting across from Sasuke's usual spot at the head of the dining table, Sakura stared dejectedly at the source of her despair, her hands mechanically twisting the fabric of her apron.
It had been about an hour since she had found it but time had seemed to drag on impossibly slow, each tick of the antique clock in the hall resounding with a sluggish echo as she felt the walls close in around her. For an hour, she had sat helplessly as her life crumbled into nothing, her dreams and plans unraveled, and her heart was slowly shredded. The sobbing had subsided some since 'the discovery' but the tears still streamed uncontrollably down her face in warm rivets.
And through it all, through the desperation, sorrow and helplessness, her gaze had been focused on it, lying delicately before her, mocking her as she mourned.
The deep red, size four, satin thong edged with black lace and adorned with a bow that Sakura had found in Sasuke's ANBU uniform, crumpled and shoved into his pants pocket.
He was cheating on her. After she had given him everything she had to offer, her freedom, her happiness, her life, he had cheated on her. For her. That bitch Misaki. Who else would he want? Pretty, somewhat tolerable, and his teammate: he would always have excuses and alibis at the ready. We were training, we were catching a bite, there were complications on our mission.
She had suspected that he was being unfaithful. She had instinctively picked up on all of the signs, all of the evidence that suggested an affair. It was only now that the physical evidence was lying in front of her that she was finally forced to come to terms with the truth. It had been easy to pretend that his clothes didn't smell like perfume when she went to wash them. It had been even easier to accept all of his lies and excuses. And all the while, somewhere buried in the depths of her mind, the broken person she used to be was silently screaming at her, trying to make her see the truth. But Sasuke was her everything; why would she try to uncover anything that would distance them further? The only thing that was driving her was the small glimmer of hope that somewhere in his solidified heart, Sasuke—the man who had returned to the village with apologies on his lips, the man who had relentlessly badgered her until she had finally agreed to go to dinner with him, the man who had whispered sweet lullabies to her in her sleep, the man whom she had fallen in love with—still loved her. Why would she want to destroy her reason for enduring the miserable life she was living?
It was desperation, the dire need to be with him that caused Sakura to lie to herself for so long—they were just in a slump, they would overcome it. Every couple had rough patches. Eventually, she would wake up one day and he would hold her in his arms and tell her how much he loved her. Eventually, the day would come when things would go back to the way they were, in the beginning, during that first year when he smiled and she laughed and he wanted to be with her.
Things began to go awry the moment she crossed the threshold of his house, all of her belongings stuffed and jammed into several boxes at her feet. She had been nervous and wary at what the new proximity would do to them. But when she had expressed her concerns to him, Sasuke had just brushed them off as if the two of them were impervious to problems. As if, they could not possibly grow apart.
But he was wrong. So wrong. And it only hurt more to know that she had foreseen it, the bleakness and misery that was their relationship. As long as he's happy. It was her personal dogma, the essential component in all of her decisions. Because that's what it came down to: if he was happy, she was happy. If he wasn't happy, she suffered.
The agonizing desperation began making its appearance once the arguing began, so intense that they triggered Sasuke's dark eyes to pulse red. By the time he began setting up permanent residence in the guest room, and then hotels, she couldn't control the feral need to have him by her side as she cried silently in their achingly cold bed. So she succumbed with as much dignity as she could muster. His wishes above hers, his needs before hers, his feelings above hers. Once he properly established his dominant role, he had let the power consume him to a point where she was no different than a complaisant servant, tending to his every whim.
He didn't want her to go on missions? She'd work in the hospital. He didn't like her revealing so much skin? She'd wear more conservative clothing. He didn't like the way she cooked? She'd take some culinary classes. He wanted her to be pregnant? She'd start taking hormone pills. He didn't want to get married? She'd happily accept his decision.
Sakura hated what she had become and hated herself for allowing it to happen. She should have left when the arguments began, temporarily at least. Perhaps, then they would have realized that they weren't ready to be so seriously committed. But she didn't. Instead, she watched their relationship decline further and further as she desperately clamored for anything that might please Sasuke, might make him happy since she couldn't do that for him anymore.
And then, about five months ago, things began to change. Sakura would come home from the hospital to find the house dark and unoccupied almost every night. She would wait for him, his blaringly empty plate placed across from her at the end of the mahogany dining table.
At first he would come in at ten and start their ritual conversation—a kiss on the forehead, "How was your day?" "Fine. And yours?" "Tiring. Same as always. Are you hungry?"—as if walking in so late was normal. Then gradually, he began arriving later and later causing Sakura to often fall asleep at the table, the ticking of the grandfather clock in the hall keeping time in her dreams. When his entrances began bordering two in the morning, Sakura reasoned that Sasuke wouldn't mind if she went to bed rather than wait for him. She tried to smother the part of her that said that he wouldn't care.
For three months she rarely saw Sasuke during the night. Sometimes she would wake up alone and upon feeling the cold spot beside her, wonder if he had ever come home. Out of curiosity and a growing sense of abandonment, one night Sakura forced herself to stay awake for hours until she heard the quiet click of the doorknob. Try as she might to calm her racing heart, she could hear the low thudding in her ears. Why was she panicking? What was there to fear?
She realized what she feared, what was causing her to panic when Sasuke slid soundlessly into their bed and the air he stirred with his movements was redolent of lavender and chamomile: the truth.
Misaki's smiling face flashed in Sakura's mind and the tears fell faster. She knew she was the other woman. Why wouldn't she be? It was Misaki for god's sake.
With a sprinkling of golden freckles spanning across her cheeks and thick golden hair cascading down her back, Misaki was undeniably beautiful; a fact that lost merit each time she spoke. Her words were nearly always snide and biting, ringing with irritation and annoyance. Not thoroughly devoid of warmth, there were days and moments when Misaki's temper stalled and her voice smoothed and she was likable, that was until the scale that balanced her temperaments teetered back towards irritable.
Every time she saw her, which was daily, Sakura habitually compared herself to Misaki. She was a golden blend of beauty and skill while Sakura was; useless. Sasuke made it a point to tell her so in almost every argument they had. Many a times Sakura stood before the mirror, wishing that she was slimmer and taller and stronger. Wishing that the sound of her voice turned heads, that her smile caused joy, that she was wanted.
She should have said something. Done something. How many times had she seen Sasuke training or eating, just being with Misaki? How many times had she come home for her lunch break to find Misaki, cooking at her stove, wearing her apron, cooking his food?
Sakura clutched her stomach as a bout of nausea washed over her. He had brought her into their house, into their bedroom, into their bed. The bed that Sakura silently climbed into each night, lonely and cold. The bed where Sakura would wake with a jolt, hoping desperately that there would be someone next to her, not just a wrinkled bedspread.
With a heavy heart, Sakura cried woefully. Four years ago she had been living contently in her own apartment, single and independent. Then he had stepped back into her life; returning to Konoha, procuring forgiveness, and stealing her heart again all in one fatal swoop. If she had known at the time when he was whispering sweet words in her ears, caressing her hand lovingly, cradling her body tenderly against his, that she would eventually be reduced to the role of a controlled housewife in an unfaithful relationship, she would have never gotten involved. Ever.
The clock struck twelve with a loud bong. Sakura continued to stare at the underwear dejectedly.
How could he do this to her? How could he betray her like this? After everything she had ever done for him. Getting him out of execution for his betrayal to the village, saving his life countless times, feeding him, cleaning his house, doing his every will.
In the course of the twelve years since she had begun loving Sasuke, he had caused her to feel nothing but pain, sorrow, regret and inadequacy. And for what? There was nothing she could show for the three years they had been together: not marriage, not love, not children. She had wasted her life for nothing.
She didn't deserve any of it. Any of the shit he had been giving her for the past two years. Any of the insults, any of the avoidance, any of the loneliness. Every single night, the deafening silence consumed her like a disease, driving her closer to insanity with each tear that slipped from her eyes.
What had happened to the strong kunoichi who would maim any man who mistreated her? What had happened to her spirit, once too stubborn to be broken? Who was this woman who couldn't stop crying over a man who didn't love her—a man who destroyed her?
Did he realize how much damage he had caused? Could he see how broken she was, how depressed she was? She hadn't truthfully smiled in over a year. Did he notice that?
Did he care?
No, He didn't care. Not about her, not about their relationship; all he cared about was screwing that slut.
That would all end. She'd make it so that he'd never worry about his dick over her again.
Because he would have bigger problems to worry about than his sex life.
Like whether he would live to see tomorrow or not.
She had given him the best of herself, sacrificed her happiness for his, just so that he could spit on it. She had loved him unconditionally since she was twelve years old: did he ever show his appreciation? No, instead, he slept with another woman. Who in the hell did he think he was?
With a sudden burst of passion, Sakura shouted angrily as she flipped the table, the polished wood snapping as it impacted with the wall. Resentment and vengeance blazed ferociously in her eyes as she heaved. She was done with it all, the submissiveness, the mistreatment—done with Sasuke. But she wouldn't leave quietly. Oh no. She had been silent for far too long and she'd be damned if her departure was mistaken for surrender; Misaki, or any other bitch for that matter, was not going to try and take her place, she'd make sure of it.
In a few moments, the entire dining room was destroyed. Gaping holes covered each wall. The cabinet in the corner filled with china laid in jagged shambles. The wood that once made up the floor rose from the ground in splintered stalagmites. The chandelier swung one last time on its cord before crashing to the ground and shattering in a cascade of chimes, sparks flinging in haphazard showers around the room. And amidst it all stood Sakura, heaving as she clenched her bloody fingers. It wasn't enough.
As the ceiling began to crumble, Sakura separated the panties from among the wreckage and shoved them unceremoniously in her pocket before scrambling over the rubble of the room and into the kitchen. She didn't feel the concrete scraping against her skin or the jagged wood puncturing her palms. All she could feel was rage. Without thought or pause, she proceeded to destroy the kitchen, the freshly washed dishes shattering into thousands of pieces upon the tiled floor. Every night she had slaved tirelessly in this damn kitchen trying to make something that Sasuke might enjoy, something that wouldn't "disgust" him. A wall crumbled into pieces. Did Misaki's cooking disgust him? The stove gave a grinding screech as its metallic frame was twisted horrendously.
Fueled by her anger and scorn, Sakura continued to destroy the home she had inhabited with Sasuke for two years. Pictures and his prized gifts and antiques were shattered. The walls were demolished with a single punch. Sasuke's training room? The ceiling was caved in. The den? The floor was smashed to smithereens. And the bedroom?
Sakura slowly made her way to the master bedroom, carefully avoiding the heaps of debris surrounding her. She paused in the doorway cautiously. The room she hated the most. Left to sleep alone after arguments, she had always felt the walls swell, the room enlarge as the loneliness and hurt racked her body with pain.
The king bed was beautiful in composition. She remembered how delighted she had been when selecting the design for the wrought iron frame and delicately shaped mahogany headboard. In the beginning, it had been her favorite piece in the house. But as Sakura glared angrily at it, imagining all the things Sasuke probably did to her in their bed, remembering all of the nights she spent crying in their bed, she couldn't help but release the full effect of her fury.
Blindly, she hurried to the back door, yanking it off of its hinges in her haste. In the dark she groped for the handle of the shed door before she destroyed the building with an impatient shout. Within moments, the spare gallon of gasoline was retrieved and with her bleeding hands, Sakura graciously doused every inch of the pristine white sheets. The bed seemed almost luminous against the black of the night, resting underneath the moonlight streaming through the skylight. Sakura's glare hardened. With a quick fire jutsu, the bed was set aflame as the smoke quickly overtook the room. The flicker of the flames glinted in Sakura's eyes, her fury blazing inside of her.
Unfinished, Sakura wrenched open the doors of the armoire. Methodically, she tore each article of clothing before ungraciously depositing it into the fire. Each rip somehow warbled in her ears and sounded like his demeaning, domineering words: useless, stupid, ugly, weak, barren, disappointing, worthless. Sakura gazed intensely at the fire, the orange flames growing until they licked the beams of the ceiling. With her back pressed against the wall, she slid onto the floor, keeping her enraged gaze transfixed on the mesmerizing blaze. A small sense of victory was building in her chest. But it wasn't enough. She craved absolute destruction.
As the inferno began to spread, she retreated into the remnant of the house that still stood. Stepping into the living room, Sakura was stricken with a sudden moment of clarity that almost caused her to reconsider her actions. As the enlarged photo of her and Sasuke, back when they were still in love, still happy, gazed down at her from above the fireplace, she found herself regretting her revenge: this was her home, their home. How could she have ruined it like this? How could she betray Sasuke like this? Her hand gently glided over the picture, remembering, wishing. Maybe it could work— look how happy they had been, they could go back to that— maybe she was making a mistake. Her fingers fell from the frame and fell to her side, grazing against her bulged pocket in the process. A stinging, searing pain wrenched at her heart and as suddenly as it had come, the moment was gone, rage returning to fill its place. The final reminder of what they had been was ripped from the wall and promptly burned in the fire.
She angrily fought against the house, her prison, tearing through the building like a whirling tornado, leaving devastation in her wake. Every piece of furniture, every obstruction in her way, any and everything that was in her line of sight ceased to exist. Eventually, there was nothing more to be done. The roaring inferno had swept across the house and taken care of anything she had missed. There was nothing left.
The only thing she had saved was an unlabeled crinkled envelope containing some money and information to the savings account she had long ago abandoned when she had moved in with Sasuke. She remembered sealing the envelope with the idea that it would always be available if there was some kind of emergency or tragedy. The house groaned as it began to topple on itself, the walls crumbling into ash.
Or if she ever had to leave.
She didn't look back as she walked away from the burning house. She didn't pay attention to the frenzied neighbors trying to distance themselves from the danger. It was for the better; in their hurried escape, no one remembered if they had seen Sakura escaping with them or if she had been home at all when the fire erupted. By the time help arrived, nothing could be done to stop the flames and everyone watched helplessly as the Uchiha household burned to the ground, Uchiha Sasuke standing as close to the swelling flames that was permitted.
As the last embers died out and the source of the fire was being searched for, Sasuke was allowed to collect anything that was salvageable from the wreckage. It was as he poked his way around the charred and twisted living room that Sasuke noticed that the brick fireplace and chimney had been able to withstand the heat of the flames and still stood. But it was upon closer inspection that he realized that across the nails that had once held the photograph of him and Sakura was now stretched a deep red, size four, satin thong edged with black lace and adorned with a bow.
I made the ending in such a way that if everybody hated it, I could leave the story a one-shot but if people liked it, I could still continue. That's where you come in. Hit that reveiw button. You know you want to. =)