This is my own quote:

"Because making me laugh is nothing—I laugh at anything—making me smile, however, that's another story."

Coming home/March 2nd

There is blood, blood everywhere. I could see Sakura rush to the ninja, trying with all her might to save their lives. I can't do anything to help her. I can't do anything; I was trying too hard to beat the organization I was once a part of. That is possibly the second worse thing I ever did in my life, and there were many things I did wrong in my life. The second loudest blonde—that I remember—in the village tried helping her, only to annoy her and get in her way.

Naruto was at my side, powering his Rasengan with the ninth-tail's charka. I swallow—trying to remember why in the world I ever wanted to hurt these people, ever wanted to hurt my home—and powered my Chidori into the glowing ball of blue the dobe was holding. "Chidori!" I shout as Naruto shouts, "Rasengan!"

The battle ends there. Pein is gone; nothing more than ashes and the few surviving teeth. We, Team 7, and the other ninja toke care of what is left of the Akatsuki with board expressions. They were lost without their leader, good ninja or not. They didn't know what to do.

There was blood everywhere. But almost all the ninja survived. I chuckle silently in relief and walk away, Sakura, Naruto, and Kakashi trailing just behind me. They all want to know the verdict of my punishment.

The air inside the tower was calm, as if unaffected by the war that had just been ended outside it. Sakura trails close behind me, I felt her warmth. She's anxious. Naruto was grinning from ear to ear. He's far to confidant. And Kakashi, Kakashi's just happy. That one word was escaping from ever fiber of his being. Did I hurt them enough for them to want my death?

Naruto, just like I remembered him doing (time hadn't changed this dobe, had it?), stormed in, needing no invite other than his own will. Which, knowing him, was probably how he saw it. Instead of standing, like I expected him to do, he sat down in the Hokage chair. He exploded with calm.


The rosette's head lifted, a nervous smile on her face. "Hai, Naruto-san?" she asked. I was embarrassingly relieved to know that my suffix had not been replaced onto the dobe's name.

"Do you agree that Sasuke-teme is a free man for helping us?" Why would her vote count? Why would Naruto get to decide?

"Hai, Hokage-san. Uchiha-san has proven loyal." She aimed a pointed gaze at me with her jewel-colored eyes before saying, "Even if he had proved otherwise before." Impressed, my head turned. So, he had accomplished his dream. Hn… Years had changed the dobe.

Naruto clapped, grinning his goofy smile. "Alright then! Sasuke's a free man," he declared and lifted his legs to rest on the desk. "And has been granted duel citizenship in the Sand, where Garra said so himself, and in Kohona because I said so myself." He waved a hand around nonchalantly. "Blah, blah, blah. The clean-up crew'll be out soon, Kakashi-sensei. Tsunade-baa-chan wants you to help."

"Damn…" the silver haired copy-ninja cursed. Sakura smiled her breathtaking smile. (Breathtaking? What the—? Okay so maybe it was. So what?) "I know," he said to her, as if reading her mind, "I'll never get out of it."

"That's what you get for drunken one-night stands, sensei," Sakura's gentle voice chided. I shuddered. Kakashi rolled his eyes and puffed out.


"You don't want to know," she grinned at me. I couldn't help but smile back, as much as a smile as I could manage.

I heard Sakura gasp and her smiled widened. Her heart faltered—I could hear it—and color flushed to her cheeks, making the green of her eyes shine brighter. Naruto didn't seem to notice.

The dobe cracked out a bottle of vodka. I licked my lips—my favorite. He filled two shot glasses and gave me one. I looked questioningly at Sakura. How could she not like vodka? "Sakura-chan doesn't drink," Naruto said, as if it explained it all. And it did; Sakura was a medic-nin, after all, maybe she didn't hold alcohol well. She smiled at me and nodded to the shot-glass. I smiled back and tipped my head, swallowing the sticky liquid.

Birthday/July 23

Happy birthday to me, I thought bitterly. Kami, I hated my birthday. Hated it almost as much as I used to hate Itachi. My eighth birthday was the worst, and now it was ten years after that loathed day. My oh-so happy birthday was the day the Uchiha Clan was buried. I glared at the clock, having nothing else to glower at. Three hours, ten minutes, and twenty, nineteen, eighteen, seventeen—you get it—seconds until I was officially eighteen. I hated that number. Eight.

Reluctantly, I heaved myself off the king-sized bed. This was one of the days I wished I really had gone with them. Anything that had to do with them I hated, anything that reminded me of them. Of course, that included me—I was a living reminder of the Uchihas, being the last Uchiha. But I deserved to be hated, even if I'm occasionally convinced otherwise by Sakura's loving smile, or Naruto's fruitless glaring matches, or Kakashi's rare "good gob, retard" pats on the back.

I had done too many bad things to believe that every time I turned my back to Sakura to look at someone else, I didn't hurt her, didn't give her a needless reminder of what I did that day. Or to believe that every time I hissed at my curse mark I didn't kill Kakashi, didn't remind him for the day he put it on me only for me to let it loose whenever I felt mad. Or to believe that with ever spar I had with Naruto didn't bring back horrid memories of our resent fights, in which he could never beat me at.

I had only been back for four months. Right in time for Sakura's seventeenth birthday. I let out a chuckled—which was the closest thing to a laugh anyone's ever getting from me—at the memory. Everything had been cleaned up in time for the citywide birthday party of Kohona's strongest and most loved kunoichi. The sight of Sakura in a kimono was a sight for sore eyes. Her shoulder length hair up in a bun, her hourglass frame held tightly by the obi—

I growled at myself. The cereal poured out in the bowl, making loud pitter-patting sounds. I picked at it; my appetite had decided to avoid me this fine morrow.

I chortled at my own bad joke. Fine morrow my foot.

A knock on my door, so faint, was the thing that saved me from having to eat. Sakura had found me to be suffering from malnutrition and had somebody watching my every step somewhere. I never had a big appetite but that didn't save me from the Haruno and her ANBU ties. Apparently, there were more than a few ANBU agents out there that were willing to "do anything for her" and needed to get their asses kicked. Sakura had accumulated a few fans of her own, most of them just as—or more—annoying as (than) mine.

I speeded my way to the door, only to wobble back in shock. Sakura's arms were around my neck, her head into my throat, in the instant the door was opened. "I'm so sorry, Sasuke," she muttered into the name of my neck. "Forgive me for all the times I've ever said 'happy birthday' in all the years I've known you. I didn't know. I'm so, so, so sorry."

She seemed to know why I hated my birthday. She was more upset with it than I was. Than again, she did grow up believing that the elders knew best, and that was a lie. In May, they were outlawed and removed from their posts. All but Tsuanade, who knew nothing about what they had done before she joined them. There was only one Elder now. It was a very good thing that the Hokage was no longer a drunk—because a drunk taking advice from another drunk could mean hell.

"C'mon," Sakura said, leaning away from me. "Let's have a picnic on the burial grounds. A birthday and a goodbye in one? Not a happy one, just being glad that you were born."

"Hn…" I tried thinking for a rebuttal for that. "I'm not glad I was born."

Sakura's porcelain cheeks turned down in a frown. She smacked the back of my head with enough force to crack my skull. I rubbed at the place where there was sure to be a big-ass bump. "Don't you ever say that, Uchiha Sasuke. I am glad you were born. Naruto's glad you were born. Hell, even Neji's glad you were born! NEJI!"

"Hn…" I couldn't imagine how the Hyūga would be glad I was ever born, but whatever.

"Besides, it'll be fun—you need some fun. You're like that seventh and sixth dwarf from that Cinderella thing wrapped up in one."

"It's Snow White, Sakura."

"What? I thought it was Cinderella!" I shook my head at her foolishness. "Really? Hum… Whatever. Come on, Dopey-Grumpy, the Uchihas Clan's waiting. We'll have fun. I'd bet we could even get the fan-boys and your fan-girlies to carry the things. And then maybe we could watch them have a catfight over you—I know I always liked watching them, even when I was a part of them. They're so much fun—the kicking and scratching."

She was trying to distract me. It was working. She was making fan-girls sound…interesting. That in itself was scary.

"You should get dressed. They might try to rape you."

I so didn't put them beyond that. "Tch. Who said I was going?"

She glared at me; her eyes alight with fury. She was daring me to interrupt her threat. When I didn't she said, "If you want those Uchiha brats of yours to have a chance at even getting into the womb of anyone, you'd do what I say."

Not the guys. That'd hurt—a lot. The Uchiha Clan needed repopulating. "Touché."

So, against my will, I was at the cemetery in a black mourning shirt Sakura had stuffed me in. She herself was in a black shirt and skirt ensemble. And she was right. The annoying things that consider themselves humans had carried our crap. They had even offered to carry me. Sakura had laughed at that and lifted me with one hand off the ground several feet—who the hell knew the girl was so strong?—and said to the things, "Try doing that, bitches!" The fan-girls had tried to strangle her and the fan-boys—such a surprise—tried to keep them the hell of Sakura.

In return to her lifting me, I lifted her—on my pinky—over my head. "Show off," she had muttered to me. I chuckled and nodded, wanting to bother her and show her that I wasn't the seventh and sixth dwarf.

"Sakura," I deadpanned as she handed me a tomato sandwich. We were alone, the fannies biting each other heads off. She looked at me curiously. "Why'd you want to come to the cemetery?" I was getting good at this "socializing" thing. Though I hated it with a passion. If I wanted to talk, I would. And most of the time I didn't so I wouldn't.

"Well…I thought you might like to visit your parents. I know you're too proud—stubborn—to go alone. I also figured, why not let the Uchiha family have one last picnic with their son and his friend?"

I smiled at her logic.

Team Vacation/August 24th

"Uchiha Sasuke! You get your ass in here right now!" Did Sakura just curse? What had this world come to? Wow—I made Sakura, good and non-cussing Sakura, cuss. I was in deep shit. I didn't let that fact seep into my expression.

Sai's—my replacement's—normally emotionless eyes turned fearful. "Uh…Uchiha, you're dead meat." Yeah, I knew that! Thanks for nothing.


My expression motionless, I lifted myself from the couch and into the bathroom where her voice came from. A chuckle bubbled in my chest when I saw her. Her arms crossed over her chest, her foot tapping the tiled floor. Anger flamed behind her emerald eyes.

Naruto's barley contained snicker bursted from the living room.

"Who do you think you are, Uchiha?"

"Hn…" Was this a trick question? I thought I was Uchiha Sasuke, of the late Uchiha Clan, the Clan's only survivor, once S-ranked criminal, now best "frienemy "—as Naruto called it—to the Hokage and ANBU caption of Squad Ten, best friend to the caption of Squad Seven, (that was a gift from Naruto to Sakura, the number seven, which was her favorite because of Team Seven), but I could be wrong. However, I normally wasn't.

"Answer me!"

I stared at her. She wanted me to actually answer that ludicrous sentence?

"Oh, yeah!" Sakura was angrier now. Damn. "You're the dude about to have a vasectomy by foot!" Now that sounded painful. What the hell was a vasectomy anyway? "What did you think you were doing," she ranted, her hands in the air instead of on her hips, "leaving your underwear on the bathroom sink like that! I brush my teeth on that sink!"

That was what all this crap was about?

"This is what all this shit is about?"

"Hai! If I can train Naruto—the stubbornest person alive—to not do is on the Team's vacation, I can sure as hell train you!"

I smiled. She was in for a big surprise:

Uchihas don't learn under the watchful eye of a sexy woman.

First date/January 1st

Naruto rubbed at his head. His healing black eye was now purple instead of the sickly black and blue color Sakura had left it in. I didn't blame her, the dobe earned it. Of course, the punch to the back of his head was needless. Then again, I didn't know that. Maybe he earned it when I was out on that mission to kill that drug-dealer. I had just gotten back today.


Uh-oh. Nickname meant angry kunoichi, which meant beat-up time for Uzumaki. If I was he, I would be scared. But I wasn't so I'm not. Besides, Sakura wasn't fast enough to lay a finger on me. I would catch her punch in seconds. Might let her think she was going to hit me by letting it get within centimeters of my face, but I would hold it.

"Hn…" I snickered and turned around in my barstool, away from my tomato soup, to look at the angered rosette. I lifted my dark eyebrows questioningly.

"You baka! Did you actually think that setting me up with Kiba was a good idea? What kind of dobe are you?" The tracker? Was set up with Sakura? Or vise versa. Wonder how that went… Probably not well for him. I chuckled. "You little son of a bitch! A pity date? Naruto, did you actually think I wasn't going to find out?" Sakura waved her fist in front of Naruto's face. That face was backing as far away as it could—which wasn't far considering the fact that Sakura had hold on his collar.

I raised my eyebrows higher, amused.

The dobe blushed, embarrassed. He tried pushing her away, but it was futile. "Sa-Sa-Sakura-chan! I—he—it—but—!" He was cut off by a fist.

"I don't think so! Kiba got his just deserts, now it's your turn!"

And the torrent of charka-fueled punches began. I snickered. Who'd thought Sakura—weak, annoying, fan-girl Sakura—would have turned into this strong, defiant, amazing kunoichi?

Beat-up and broken, Naruto stuttered, "How-how—ouch—did you find out?"

Sakura smiled, dropping Naruto to the snowy dust floor outside Ichiraku's shop ruthlessly. "I have my ways." She pulled off her leather gloves and set to work, healing the worst of the gashes her handiwork had left on him, leaving the rest. "A reminder," she had told me when I had asked, seemingly uninterested, "to him that I can and will do that again."

The dobe hissed in relief when the biggest red burn mark was cured. "How?"

"Simple," Haruno sighed. "I told him I'd sic Sasuke on him." I'd be sic-ed? Tch. Expected.

Naruto bit his lip and shut up.

"Annoying…" I chuckled at Sakura.

Incredulous, her green eyes looked to me. She lifted herself from Naruto's body—limp with relief—and turned on me. Her eyes were wide. "Say what?" I stared at her, daring her to throw one punch at me. She grabbed the collar of my ANUB vest. I was inches near her face. I thought she was going to kiss me. But wasn't she over that? I glared at her—

—and she punched me. Punched. Me. Uchiha Sasuke! Punched! Me! Then, as quick as she had me, she let go, dusting her hand on her kaki skirt. "That's what I thought you said." And she left, her hips swaying with her short hair.

:: ::

Later, the dobe had dragged my ass to a retarded "guys night out". Thanks to the pills Sakura had forgotten she gave me, the swelling was nothing more than my normal skin. Naruto was laughing the ass he didn't have off as Kiba laughed and blushed with him.

"Sakura-chan punched Teme!" the dobe said for the thousandth time. How that never got old among his friends I'll never know.

"Uchiha, why the hell don't you just ask her out already?"

"Hn?" I lifted my head from the cup of vodka I was staring into. My head flipped to the Nara who had asked. I hadn't heard him. The pineapple-haired genius gazed at me expectantly.

"Why," he asked slowly, "don't, you, ask, her, out, all, ready?" My eyes popped open in surprise. My miniscule blush couldn't be seen even under a microscope, but I felt my face heat. He laughed at my expression. I stood up and left, not wanting to hear another world about my nonexistent love life. I was eighteen, I didn't need this crap.

::Two days later::

Sakura called over her shoulder to some people named Shimashu and Lena. Weird name for a girl. She turned to walk out, stopping when her glorious eyes landed on me. She smiled shyly. "Oh, hi, Sasuke. What are you doing here?"

I walked to her, laying my arm on her waist. "Hn…"

"What are you doing?" I walked towards the woods I wanted to show her. Sakura followed willingly, curiously. "Uchiha," she demanded her feet glued to the ground. Thank Kami she stopped right in front of the Uchiha Forest. "I demand to know what it is you're doing."

I smirked at her. "We're going on a date," I answered and pulled her along on the trail.

She blushed and wrapped her arms around my waist. "Um-kay."

Proposal/June 1st

Her green eyes shined in the light of the setting sun. Her pale skin glows orange. She smiles. She holds my hand in an iron strong hold. From the first day she held it she'd never wanted to let go. I cannot fathom why. I may be the last Uchiha, but that hardly makes me worthy of her. My thumb rubs circles on her hand on her most resent scar of three months. "Isn't it beautiful, Sasuke?"

"Hn?" I hum, smirking up at her. I had no idea what she just said. She'd been quite for so long, I wasn't expecting her to talk, so I hadn't been listening. Otherwise, she knows sure as hell I'd answer the second the words left her mouth.

"Isn't it beautiful?" Sakura asked again, nodding to the sunset.

"Hn…" I hesitated, readjusting my head on her lap. "If you say so." Her pink brows creased. I knew her well enough to know why she did that; she wanted an explanation to my answer. "But your right here, so the sun doesn't stand a chance," I murmur silently.

She blushed and gave my hand a squeeze. I pull her down, making sure my lips meet hers. Her blush deepens as the kiss does.

I love kissing her. There were no fireworks, no parade, and no big explosion. None of that. Instead, a warmth wormed its way into my chest, heating my cold heart. The aftermath, though, of kissing her was better than the actual kiss, despite the fact that her kissing skills had indeed improved. Because the kiss warmed me, and I couldn't bask in that glory until the kiss was over. And I never wanted to kisses to be over, because the longer the kiss the warmer I grow. Her lips make all my murdering sprees and everything I ever did to her seem unimportant in comparison, as long as she forgave me.

Breathless, she pulled away. Her face was red as a tomato. I chuckled at that.

"Sakura," I sighed, lifting my head from her lap and pulling her body onto mine. "Sakura, I love you."

Her emerald eyes glowed in disbelief. She could read my eyes, though. She was better at that than even Kakashi. She knew I was honest.

"Sasu-Sasuke," Sakura stuttered, "I-I love you more." I rolled my eyes at her. As if that was even possible. She curled up into my chest. I reached for my pocket and pulled out a small white velvet box. I laid it on her lap, leaving her the option of declining, no matter how much that would hurt. She disserved options.

Eyes wide, she lifted the little box. The lid flipped open to reveal a diamond ring. Small and simple, it had the reds and blues of the Uchiha Clan. It was my mother's, and today was her birthday.

Sakura slipped it on her finger and smiled. "Yes," was her only word. I smiled at her and lifted her in for another kiss.

"I love you," I muttered into her lips.

Not for what she was—because I honestly couldn't care less if she were a housemaid or a housewife or a ninja like she is—but for what she made me. She made me carefree, as carefree as I could get. She let me loose. She reminded me that there are people who cared about me. She was amazing.

So... What'd you think? Tell me; that's what that nice blue button is for. :)