Trial and Error – Chapter Nine
I'm surprised no one got the quote from last chapter. Guess there weren't any Soul Eater fans around.
This story has been disclaimed for the final time.
"Is something bothering you?"
It's one of the rare times that Sasuke-kun actually invited me over to his place. He's reclining into the corner of the sofa and I'm curled into a ball at the other end. The distance between us makes me want to scream, but I don't want to be the one to reach out. In all honesty, I'm getting tired of trying. His eyes are almost hypnotic, though. He's actually looking at me while speaking, which only means he's serious about the question.
I try to smile, but my heart's not really into it. "Neh, why would you ask?"
"You've been acting… weird."
I'm the one who breaks the eye contact, choosing to instead stare at the lines of the coffee table. Truth be told, this is the moment I've been waiting for. This is supposed to be when I spill everything I've been hiding for months, and we finally get to have a heart-to-heart. I've told myself that, if he ever asked in person, I'd be able to tell him what I was thinking.
"I'm just really into this movie."
I balk. Because even though I keep saying he's the reason we don't talk, the truth is also that I'm too scared to try.
"You know, maybe she just needs a little bit of time." Ino pops her bubble gum obnoxiously loud and twirls a strand of hair around her index finger. "I mean, you did go from Mr. I-Have-a-Stick-Up-My-Ass to something like Prince-fucking-Charming in like, a couple of months. So maybe she's finally going into shock or something?"
"Yeah, teme!" Naruto chimes in. "She probably needs time to digest everything! So stop being so emo. It's getting me all depressed, even!"
As much as I'd like to believe what they're saying, it's hard. They weren't the ones that saw the look in Sakura's eyes before she walked away. "I don't know."
The two exchange a look with alarmed eyes. Ino purses her lips and raises her eyebrows sharply. The typical wide grin falls off of Naruto's face as he stares at me and blinks. "What do you mean? You're not… giving up, are you?"
Their expressions only get more concerned when I stand up and sling my backpack over my shoulder. Maybe I should be offended at their obvious lack of faith in me. "What kind of Uchiha would I be if I gave up now?"
They smile, but Ino's eyes still haven't lost the glint of concern. Her mouth twists to the side before she speaks again. "You know, there's only so much you can do, right? I mean, eventually, she's going to make a choice. And… she might not want to choose you right away." Her tone is so uncharacteristically gentle that I'd almost prefer her typical over-dramatic demeanor. The softness makes it just seem like she's saying I have no chance at all.
"Ah. I can wait." Because Sakura's worth that much.
A week, and there's no sign that Sakura wants to talk. Hell, there's no sign that she wants to acknowledge my existence. It's back to being like the first few weeks when we broke up. There's no eye contact, no walking in the same hallway, no texts, no nothing.
Every time I see her turn around in order to avoid me, my legs itch to run and catch up to her and just… I don't know, make her face me. But then that would fuck everything up, seeing as she obviously still needs time. And it's not like I would ever know what to say, anyway.
A week really isn't that long. Somehow, I'll stay patient. I can keep waiting.
Two weeks since the playground, and there's still nothing. I've tried texting her, but didn't get a response. Which isn't really unexpected. For a second, though, I hoped. And maybe that's why it hurt when my phone never vibrated with her reply.
I guess this was what it was like for her when things weren't going well during our relationships. All the times I couldn't be bothered to text back or when I just wasn't in the mood. She never gave up… despite everything. It makes me want to punch myself for ever letting her down so much.
Maybe Naruto's right and I'm getting too depressing, but I'll keep waiting. Half because it's all I can do, half because I think I deserve to feel a little bit of what Sakura went through for two years.
One month. One month since I tried to pull out all stops. One month I've waited while the ball was in her court. One month, and nothing in return. A month has been long enough to wait. This is the final last chance to win her back. It's all-or-nothing.
She usually stays late after school on Thursdays to help tutor freshmen in their introductory science courses. It feels pretty creepy just to lurk outside by her car for an hour, but going anywhere else would give her the chance to run, and that's just something I can't afford right now.
Time has a habit of speeding up when it comes time for difficult things. I don't even get the chance to figure out what the hell I'm going to say to her before she comes walking out of the school building towards her car. Her head is angled downward, watching her feet as she walks. She doesn't look up until the last moment. Despite being right next to her car, she turns on her heel as soon as she notices me.
My heart drops, even though it's not like I expected anything else.
"Sakura, wait!" Her head whips around, evidently surprised that I actually shouted in desperation. She comes to a halt and turns to look at me. I push myself off of the bumper of the car and take a step towards her. "We need to talk."
"No, we don't." She quickly averts her eyes, looking at everything but me.
She steps away, but I match it, gaining a little bit of ground. "We do."
"I tried talking." Her eyes flash with anger, but then widen in surprise, almost like she's shocked that she opened her mouth. Her voice quivers slightly before she clears her throat. "I tried for two years and barely got anything back. Why is it that since you're the one taking the initiative, everything goes as you want it?" She's not trying to pick a fight or be spiteful, but still, just pointing out the truth fills me with shame.
"Why do you think you can come barging in whenever you like and expect me to cave to your every demand? Two years, and I would have done anything in a heartbeat just to see you. I was wrapped around your little finger, but you didn't even care! Why now? Why?"
"I…" My voice cracks and I stop. I can practically feel her apprehension about waiting so long for an answer. The words jumble out before I can think about how to make my point. "I never thought I'd lose you two years ago. But now…"
The awkward silence falls between us again as I flail for the right words. This is the part when I usually say something wrong or don't do the right thing. We'd fall into the place of emptiness because neither of us knew what to say or how to act. Only this time, I'm not holding back. This is the last chance.
I take the final steps forward and grab Sakura's chin so she looks at me. "Look, I know I'm an ass and probably don't deserve another chance. I know that you're scared and that I've hurt you… But I won't let go." And finally, I understand the find step that I had overlooked. "I love you, Sakura."
I step back, giving her space to breathe. Her eyes are wide and it looks like she might either slap me or break down crying. "I love you," I repeat before turning around. I guess this is what Ino was talking about earlier. I've done everything that I know how to do. Now it's just up to her. "Let me know if you think… if you want an 'us'."
Every step I take away from her echoes slightly. This is the part in the movies when the sky opens up and it starts pouring. But before I pass enough space to fit three cars, arms wrap around my torso from behind. Sakura pushes her face between my shoulder blades, and I can almost feel every curve pressed against my back. (1)
"You're so dumb, Sasuke-kun… So dumb…" She swallows hard and her grip loosens slightly. "Don't leave me behind again, okay?"
My heart feels like it's somewhere stuck between exploding and stopping dead. I pry her hands away from my chest so that I can turn around and look at her.
Sakura covers her eyes underneath the shadow of her hair and turns her head to the side. Still, she maneuvers her hand so that our fingers can fit themselves together like missing puzzle pieces. She peeks up at me through her eyelashes.
My brain finally catches up to the moment. "Does that mean… yes?"
"It means… we can try." A small smile curls on her lips.
It's enough for me. She will always be enough for me. "Good."
It took six months full of disappointment, hope, dignity (or lack thereof), and planning to get here, but it's okay. Because I can finally call the girl next to me "mine" again.
Step eight, the one so obvious that I almost forgot – love her, check. Operation: Win Back Sakura actually wasn't a failure after all.
(1) Chunnin Exams, anyone? I just couldn't resist. This is the end guys *sob* What am I going to do with my life now? Seriously, looking back, the whole story was just super predictable and, knowing me, I would of course give Sasuke and Sakura a happy ending. I hope this wasn't too unrealistic. I know it seems like Sakura kept switching her mind, but honestly, that's what it's like after going through something with such conflicting emotions (at least it was for me.)
A huge thank you goes out to everyone who read this story, but especially to those who reviewed (particularly if you did so more than once.) The encouragement really made me want to keep writing this until the end, so thank you all so much. I'll (hopefully) be coming out with more stories, so please look out for me!
I would be so very happy if everyone who has read the story to the end would drop in a review. Seriously, it would make my day. Or my year. Or my life. Probably the last one. So, review!
For the last time, thank you all!