Disclaimer – I don't own Naruto

Author's Note - I had this written a week back, but fanfiction wasn't letting me publish new stories! I finally was able to - I had posted it as a chapter to another fic earlier, but here it is. A rather angsty one-shot with flashbacks. If you don't mind that kind of thing, read on.

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Antithetical

by HighQueen

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"I – I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART!"

Her shrieks echoed in the eerie stillness of the night, her desperate pleas reverberating in the silence. She felt the tears leak out of her clenched eyes, streaming down her cheeks, the warm liquid almost soothing to the cold, clenching pain she felt in her heart.

A few feet away, through the blurry haze of her tears, she saw him stiffen.

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"It really is you," she muttered, her once sweet, innocent voice tainted with a bitter edge.

Her jade eyes, once wide and watery, filled with innocent hopes, had hardened to blazing emeralds as she stared ahead, forcing herself to stay steady.

She surveyed the figure in front of her, chakra surging through her system as her heart threatened to leap and break all over again; she held it together, this time, testing the word in her mouth, before spitting it out, her voice tinged with what could only be identified as some sort of twisted contempt.

"Sasuke."

She bit her tongue, and the acrid taste of blood filled her mouth.

She wouldn't, she couldn't possibly call him anything else now, anything more.

He had changed, and though it had taken the act of him trying to murder her in cold blood – twice – she had changed too.

She wasn't like Naruto.

She wouldn't atone for his sins any longer. She wouldn't live her life solely for him any longer. She wouldn't do anything, everything - just for one, convoluted, corrupted image of a boy she once-

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"I would do anything for you!"

She gasped, the tears dripping down her chin, as she directed her words at his stiff, unyielding Uchiha-fan-covered back.

"So… please – just – stay with me!"

Choked sobs were torn from her throat, and the painful throbbing of her heart increased. He didn't move.

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He finally looked up, amidst the ruined battlefield, gleaming eyes visible through the curtain of dark spikes framing his face, covering his forehead.

He was still undeniably handsome, she admitted, though the pale face was streaked with grime. Dark circles ringed his eyes, shadows flitted across his hollow cheekbones, and tears of blood poured down his cheeks.

She couldn't help but smirk to herself, an iota of amusement at the irony: he was crying, even if it was just blood from overexertion of his blasted Sharingan, while her eyes were dry.

The Mangekyou faded away, the pinwheel dissolving back into empty ebony pits – she noticed there was something different about his eyes – they were like the eyes of a dead man.

Little did she know how right she was, that it hadn't been Sasuke's eyes gazing at her, crying blood, but those of a man far more powerful and far more compassionate than the avenger.

"What?" Sasuke rasped, his husky voice lined with fatigue.

The war had taken its toll on him; he'd been fighting for weeks without any rest, without any respite. Madara had apparently abandoned him, and though Sasuke was far stronger than the remaining Konoha 12 (minus Naruto), it hadn't been easy fighting all of them, especially when a good portion of them, led by Shikamaru, seemed to operate on the sole purpose of having him dead.

He was probably lucky that it was Sakura, and not Naruto, who found him. If it was Naruto, the boy would probably be beating him up and dragging him away with him.

Still, as Sakura's trained eyes flicked over his body – on a purely medical basis – she noticed the numerous gashes and wounds which stained his muscled torso, visible through the rips in his shirt.

She took a step forward, feeling the chakra flow to her fingertips.

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"I don't know what I could do," she cried, "But I'll try my best to do something for you, Sasuke-kun!"

She bowed her head, hands clasped together, hoping, praying that he would change his mind.

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"Sa-kura," he croaked, and despite everything, hearing her name fall from his lips sent a shiver down her spine.

She took another step forward, her cold green eyes locked with his cold onyx ones.

"Go," Sasuke muttered, "Stay – away from me."

"What'll you do?" she asked, a taunting lilt creeping into her voice, "You can barely move, Sasuke, and you've exhausted all your chakra."

She'd barely noted it the first time, but this time, she saw how his slim eyebrow twitched, ever so slightly, at the (part that was lacking from his) name.

"I'll – kill you," he threatened, his hoarse voice barely above a whisper.

She allowed herself to smile, the expression as cynical as her voice, as she kneeled down, her face level with his.

"Oh, but Sasuke, you already tried. Two times – just like I did, ne?"

He tensed, though he didn't break eye contact with her. She was older, more mature, more experienced now, and noticed his fingers clench as he attempted to draws his chakra, blue sparks gathering at his fingertips.

Her own glowed green in response.

"I – I'm not sorry," he spat out, "I won't be. I'll eradicate your entire – pathetic village."

Sakura moved her hand till it was hovering over a particularly large gash in his chest, reveling at the way he tensed up beneath her, unable to actually move away.

"Our village," she corrected, her voice hard, "Though you don't deserve to call yourself a member of it anymore, despite what Naruto may think."

Something flickered in his eyes at Naruto's name, the tightness of his face softening for a moment, before it was gone, replaced by his usual frigid mask.

"I wouldn't want to defile the Uchiha name by aligning myself with Konoha," he said, uttering the name like it was a curse.

She said nothing, allowing her green chakra to float over his chest, seeping into the wound.

His eyes widened, marginally.

"Why – why the fuck are you-"

"I promised Naruto I wouldn't kill you," Sakura whispered, "Don't think I do this for you. I owe him more than could ever be repaid."

Her heart and soul rebelled at this, the words barely making it out of her mouth.

Lies! Inner Sakura screamed, lies, lies, lies!

"He's an idiot," Sasuke murmured, and for a moment, Sakura thought she heard an amount of fondness creep into his voice.

Her heart clenched – and she scolded herself, convincing her mind that it wasn't jealousy. After all these years, she wasn't still jealous of the bond Sasuke and Naruto shared. She wasn't.

"Why won't he just – let go of me?" Sasuke murmured, more to himself than to Sakura.

"Naruto never gives up on anything," she said, her voice steely, "You should know that by now."

She healed a few more wounds – only the life-threatening ones, before stepping back.

Sasuke breathed heavily, struggling to push himself up.

"You shouldn't have done that," he said softly, "I'll have to kill you now…"

The words were like kunai, stabbing into her heart; but it wasn't the first time, and her heart was used to wounds. She had no more blood to spill, no more tears to cry over him.

Sakura just rolled her eyes, cracking her knuckles.

Stubborn. Unyielding. Frustrating.

Sasuke's eyes bled over with the Sharingan, a chidori forming in his palm.

Sakura dug her hell against the earth, drawing chakra to her own hand.

Annoying.

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She stared after him, green eyes wide, as he turned around, slowly.

His dark eyes met hers, his pale face gleaming under the moonlight. Lips twitched upwards into a smirk, and when he spoke, his tone had a fond, teasing quality to it, despite the words.

"You really are annoying…"

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How the tables had turned.

And then suddenly, Sasuke bolted forwards; despite his state, he was no longer in mortal danger, and his speed and agility were terrifying. A split second later, Sakura smashed her fist downwards, ignoring the protest of her muscles.

SLAM! CRASH!

She noted with satisfaction, the shocked look on his face, as he leapt back to avoid the enormous wall of stone that smashed out of the ground in front of him, his chidori dissipating, uselessly.

She cocked her head, blood-drenched pink locks swishing to the side, and pulled her arm back for another hit.

His eyes met hers, and though his expression melted away to his usually stoic one, she thought she saw a glimmer of respect beneath the swirling depths of his stolen Sharingan.

He created a chidori sharp spear this time, the crackling lightning forming a slim sword in his hand, and moved past the rocky wall she had created.

He wasn't as fast as he should have normally been.

He had been battling for days, fighting it out. He hadn't slept or eaten.

She was relatively fresh, just a day into the battle, for she'd had a three-day respite and food earlier.

It wasn't a fair battle, but he had the Uchiha blood and the death of his brother on his side.

It wasn't fair at all, but they'd always been so outmatched, leagues apart, that maybe, for once, it was.

He'd always been much faster than her, ever since they were children, she remembered, as memories deluged her; protecting her, leaping in front of her so that an enemy couldn't harm her, his arms outstretched… running forwards to catch her in his arms, darting through trees with her cradled against his chest…

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"DON'T LEAVE!" she shrieked, "IF YOU DO – I'LL SCREAM!"

There was a sudden swishing sound, and he disappeared from in front of her. Sakura's heart plummeted – he couldn't have gone – where did he go?

And then suddenly, she felt a presence, just centimeters behind her. She could almost feel his chest against her back, feel his warm breath ghosting across her neck.

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Sakura gathered as much chakra as she could, just as Sasuke lunged towards her, chidori spear gleaming and crackling, and twisted away, her body moving seemingly effortlessly.

A millisecond later, she was behind him, the tip of her nose brushing his ebony spikes.

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"Sakura," he breathed, his breath warm on her ear, sending shivers down her spine, sending her heart leaping.

He'd never spoken her name so softly, with such raw emotion in his voice. She froze, standing rooted to the spot.

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"Sasuke," she murmured, almost lovingly, her index and middle finger curling inwards, and then out.

She saw the muscles and cords of his neck clench, and knew she had barely a second to react before he turned around and pinned her by the neck. Again.

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"Thank you…" he breathed, and even though she couldn't see his eyes, she could tell he meant it.

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"You're not welcome," she almost spat, tears finally pricking at her green eyes.

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She felt a sudden pressure at her neck, and then – darkness…

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She jabbed her two fingers forward, hitting the nerve with perfect accuracy and a perfectly controlled amount of chakra.

She wished she could have seen his face, as his body tensed and he lurched forward.

You're not welcome. Not anymore. Not after everything.

"You bastard," Sakura gasped, and this time, the tears poured from her eyes, as she kicked the ground, forming a large crater, watching his now limp form fall, almost gracefully, into it.

Then, she turned on her heel, and walked off, the ground cracking beneath her boots.

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Sasuke walked away, after gently setting her on a bench, his hands jammed into his pockets. He bit his lip, his eyes stinging, his heart weighed down by regret. For the first time, he actually wondered if he was doing the right thing.

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Sakura walked away, after pushing him into a crater, her hands clenched into fists. She bit her lip, her eyes stinging, but she wouldn't allow herself to be consumed by regret. For the first time, she actually thought, that maybe, she'd managed to do the right thing.

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End

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Author's Note – Angst. Mwahahaha. I don't know why, but that was satisfying. Had some poetic justice, I think. I'm sorry if you hated it or found it too ambiguous or plain said. But frankly, the way the manga is going, I can't bring myself to write proper SasuSaku romance. And I think Sakura needed to (somewhat) kick Sasuke's ass, just this once. Even if he was exhausted and pre-injured.

Interpret the ending as you wish. Did she kill him? Did she just make him unconscious? Will Naruto find him and save him? Will she come back to retrieve him after the war? It's all up to you, really. I wanted to keep it somewhat open-ended.

Oh, and if anyone picked up the mild SasuNaru, that's also open to interpretation as either strong friendship or something more.

Please review and let me know what you think! I'm really tense and strung up right now (university admission results next Wednesday!) so excuse me if my writing is rather dark and stressed as well!