All credit belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. Written credit for this oneshot belongs to yours truly.
Who's to say?
: Sincerely. Yvette
. . .
She was not the type of woman to simply sit at her window with an elbow perched on the sill. No, because if she wanted to watch the rain patter she would open the door to her flat and experience each little drop on the rooftop instead. Sometimes she would even lean on the rails to hold out a hand and feel each droplet burst onto her palm.
She experienced. She didn't just sit and watch because that was only what bystanders did. She was not a bystander.
He admired her for that, and that was exactly why he was in love with her. She was special and she would not deprive herself from opportunities. At least, he didn't believe that she did.
She begged to differ, but neither put much thought into it after a few retorts back and forth.
. . .
Nothing held her back from experience. Rain or shine, she was there for her patients—she was there when Lady Hokage summoned her—and she was never late. If an obstacle threw itself at her, all it took to remove it was a fist. A fist and a ball of determination.
He could spot her head of rosette in crowds as it waded confidently to its destination. She didn't need him to escort her. No, because she wasn't going to let herself burden others—not even if it was done from their own free will.
But he did it anyway, whether she liked it or not. He did it with a smile, always.
For this, he drove his love at her one step at a time; whether she accepted it or not was nothing of interest to him. All that mattered was her smile and that she kept striding forward as the blossomed woman she was.
She wasn't a little girl anymore, not that cute little face of pink cheeks that matched her tousled hair. Not the innocent, defenseless academy student with big eyes of the prettiest green he had ever seen. Not the genin who watched as he and their teammate protected her from the danger she could never handle. Not the girl who was easily brought to tears.
This girl had budded slowly into the beautiful woman working side-by-side with professional medical nin and their own Hokage. She now handled herself better than most, and others widened their eyes at the destruction her small hands brought forth. She was a chuunin easily recommendable as a jonin or even an ANBU to work handpicked at the Hokage's side.
To say that she was attractive would be an understatement.
She was beautiful and she drew him into speechless, muzzled words every time she appeared before him. He would never be able to describe the thoughts that rushed to him every time she bit her tongue playfully; every time she laughed at him; every time she smirked at him as she held him under her grip during a sparring session.
Yes, this was the woman he had fallen in love with, long ago when they were still children.
. . .
Sometimes he would stand beneath the window of her flat, and he would watch the flicker of a candle from her room, just as he did today. He would shove his hands into his pockets after throwing a pebble or two at the glass. When the snap of the window would sound, and when her head would pop out three stories above him, he would smile and wave.
"What do you want? Don't you know how late it is?"
He would chuckle and shake his head.
"Not too late to get a bowl of ramen, right, Sakura-chan?"
She would slam the window back into place and her curtains would pull over the view to her room. A faint salmon tone would be all that he would stare up at, up until the flame would go out. The next thing he'd know, she'd be storming down the metal staircase with a handbag.
She would follow his lead down the street ways, past the bustling crowds of people bursting from shops and bars. Every so often, he would make a silly comment about their friends, and she would follow with the latest gossip, glancing at him as she spoke.
This would go on, past their orders at Ichiraku, up until they had two bowls of steaming ramen, spices, and a side-order of hardboiled eggs.
. . .
From their earlier interactions, a year or two when he had first returned from his journey, he had realized that she had grown a new interest—comparable to that of Lady Hokage.
She tolerated about three shots of sake, and she was a heavy drinker, not fazed by much of the alcohol she consumed. While he had not been very pleased with this newfound habit, he allowed it and eventually accepted it.
Though he did blame her mentor—Lady Hokage—for this irresponsible habit.
He didn't, however, blame his decision as he sat upon one of the usual red stools, beside her, slurping down a third bowl of ramen.
"Hm," she replied, flicking a pair of jade at him as she tipped the rims of her bowl towards her mouth.
"Wanna' go get some sake after?"
She paused, curious with his words. She blinked, turning her attention back to the broth in her bowl.
"Sure," she said, again pausing. "Outdoors or at bar? I know a place for each."
He scrunched his brows together, reminding himself that he should have expected her to have local stops too. He shrugged, focusing on the conditions around them.
"Outdoors seems fine. Is that alright with you, Sakura-chan?"
It was decided, and as soon as he slammed a few coins and yen onto the counter, they bent under the flaps spelling out Ichiraku Ramen Bar and headed towards an outdoor bar a few blocks down.
. . .
As he walked beside her, arms behind his head, he shot a glance down at her free hand. It was lonely compared to the arm bent towards her torso with her handbag hanging.
It would cost him if he were to grab at it and lace his fingers through, just as he urged. Thus, he sneered to himself and looked away.
To his surprise, when they approached a desolate stand beside a general market and lamppost, he recognized the tidy bar they walked towards. If he was not mistaken, he had once seen his sennin—who rested peacefully in the Heavens—with Lady Hokage at this very bar, back when he was still a stubby little genin.
What a nostalgic feel.
She sat comfortably in the cornered stool, ordering skillfully to the bartender drying the shot glasses. Within seconds, they had a bottle of her favorite brand before them, appetizers, and two lacquered cups.
He snapped his attention to her when she was suddenly smirking at him, staring at him through her long lashes.
"You sure this is okay with you? I don't think you're much of drinker."
He grinned, shaking his head.
"Nah—I'm willing to try new things. Go on, Sakura-chan. Pour me a shot."
She was hesitant, but the liquid poured lightly into the cup. She held it out to him.
He made a face at the strong scent, but when she lifted her own and took it down in one gulp, he did the same as a challenge to himself. While it burned a little as he gulped it down, he would have had to say that the chilled, fruity flavor grew onto his taste buds.
He didn't realize that his eyes squeezed shut, and that his arm slammed onto the counter as he swallowed the last gulp thickly.
When her laugh rang out, he gave her a crooked grin.
"We'll see how long you'll last. Don't force yourself, alright?"
Oh, but he did.
. . .
Three bottles later, he could have sworn that they were wading in fire. His cheeks flamed and he couldn't recognize the difference between the tang of fruit and the sting of alcohol.
She was still in one piece, and this made his challenge burn harder.
He forced himself through another two bottles, and their conversation smeared onward. It jumped from her days at the hospital to a detailed storytelling of his journey with his Ero-sennin. While he was losing his senses, he was surprised that he could still speak fluently, and that he could still process the world around him.
The evening had flown somewhere near midnight, and the desolate area they were in grew quieter and quieter. The general market closed down, and only the lamppost lit this small portion of Konohagakure.
Now, he threw his head back as he poured another shot into his mouth. He swallowed, watching as she did the same—only more gracefully. Ah, and she didn't look as cluttered as he did.
He couldn't take his eyes away from the fresh tint stained over her cheeks.
. . .
Some time on their seventh bottle, their voices had died down and their conversation had deepened. Thoughts on the past slithered towards sensitive topics. Being the shinobi he was, he spoke his mind whether he was inebriated or not. He asked what came to mind, and now was one of those moments.
As she looked blankly at the portion left in her lacquered cup, he took a sip of his own before placing it down and folding his arms onto the counter. He examined the black marble, gathering his words before he began.
"Hm?" her voice melted, just as sweet honey.
"Why would you lie to yourself like that?"
The air calmed, and then the sound of pouring sake took over.
"What're you talking about?" He heard her take a gulp. "Who said I was lying?"
His eyes blinked slowly as he swirled the remainder of his sake.
"I did—because obviously what you said to me that day was nothing but a failed diversion. Isn't that right, Sakura-chan?"
He chose not to look at her, but if he had, he would have seen her tired eyes glare at the sides of his right cheekbone.
"You're wrong. It's one thing to believe what you think, and it's another to ignore a woman when she gathers the courage to even say such a thing—and during the drastic measures I was under, too." She licked her lips, now looking down at the glass between her hands. "I could have done it at a better time—with more sincerity—more judgment, but I would never lie about something so important."
Time ticked and their conversation dragged on.
He grew frustrated when she quoted previous her words. After a moment of silence, he inhaled and let his jumbled thoughts flow.
"I just . . . Sakura-chan—I just don't know what to say anymore. I don't know how to look at this anymore." His voice was growing stronger, though he blocked it with an unconscious gulp of sake—now on their eighth bottle. ". . . I want to believe you."
Hers was growing upset, and it shook. She was staring at him, questioning him with both her eyes and words.
"Then why don't you?"
The sentence shivered.
He shook his head, resting it in his hands. His eyes closed and he took a moment to swallow the aftertaste left in his mouth before lifting his stare and turning his head towards her.
She waited, frowning.
He forced a smile, still shaking his head with furrowed brows.
"I don't know."
. . .
Finally, a few words and minutes later when at the brink of losing himself, he stopped their intakes of sake and lifted himself from the stool. He counted the yen in Gama-chan, leaving the proclaimed amount with the patient bartender who kept with their presence through most of the night.
She looked up at him, her lip giving a natural pout that made him look away with temptation.
"It's getting late . . ." his expression narrowed, and he began towards the path. "C'mon, Sakura-chan. I'll walk you home . . ."
As they passed the marketing area, they took in the silence of the streets. Most of the stores were closed down—not including a few small crannies and bars—and there was hardly a villager in sight.
They barely said a word to each other, but both knew that the other had thoughts pounding to be said.
Of course, he was the first to give in to them.
She didn't reply—not until the question burned itself into her.
"Why what . . . ?"
Her apartment closed in as they walked, and the lamppost beside the building flickered.
His expression grew more and more serious.
"Why him—of all people? Why not someone else; someone who treated you like you deserve to be treated; someone who wouldn't put you down; someone who didn't ignore you; someone who actually cared about you. Someone . . . someone else?" His voice cracked, and he slowly looked over his shoulder. "Why . . .?"
Her eyes lined her confusion, and she searched for the right words.
"You know that you can't forget him. I told you not to lie yourself, didn't I? Look at you." He squeezed his eyes shut and snapped his head away. "I just wish I knew why, Sakura-chan."
By this time, they were just beside the stairway when she opened her mouth with protest.
"And I wish I knew why you—!"
Her words broke when his palms rested onto her cheeks, gently holding her in place as he looked at her with his pair of cerulean. He smiled a crooked smile, which looked all too wrong with the sadness paired in his irises.
"Just stop kidding yourself, Sakura-chan." She stopped. "Just stop it."
Her lip quivered and his smile broke. He grit his teeth, shaking his head.
"No . . . please don't, Sakura-chan."
Her handbag dropped and her hands slammed onto his cheeks, mirroring his own, and her lips smashed onto his. He broke his grip, wrapping his arms around her as his eyes squeezed tighter. His fingers tangled into her hair, and he matched the fierceness she had.
Their lips ground together, and their mouths opened their opportunities further. The taste of sake blended in with sweet naturalism, and it grew stronger when their hips churned against each other.
He pressed into the wall, holding onto her waist as their tongues fought, flicking and dragging into every corner; straying. Their breaths shortened, and heat rose onto their cheeks further. Strained sounds were held back, and he pulled at her hair, tipping her head back for more access.
No protests meant heavier reactions.
When they broke, now inebriated ten-fold, they held each other, looked at each other panting. He wanted to smile—wanted to say that it was okay—but it just wouldn't come.
Neither from him nor from her.
. . .
She was not the type of woman to simply stand and listen to something she believed was wrong. No, because if she had a belief, the world around her would listen to her opinion attentively—just as they did with another. For this, sometimes she threw herself out there, just as she did with him, to prove her point.
She spoke out, one way or another. Only those controlled by others stood quietly. Nobody controlled her.
For this, he admired her.
This was the woman Naruto was in love with.
This oneshot wrote itself after I listened to the cover of a song called 'Skinny Love' by Clara C. It has a very eerie, bittersweet tone and story. Thus, this oneshot wrote itself as a mirror to those feelings. I laced together the concept I had in my head from about two months back. While I would have liked it to be longer, I am pleased with the outcome.
I tend to experiment with styles, and this is the end result.
I messed a little with tense near the beginning-middle, however, I tried to make it transition. Either way, it's done with a purpose—in case some of you were planning on calling me out for it. I narrated this without the use of names, other than Sakura-chan. Also done with purpose. Most of which is done to bring your attention to certain aspects. Finally, I left the ending and the overall story unclear. I find that these are a bit more interesting, since there is no true end. I see no sequels lined behind this one. There's some irony laid out in the end.
This followed the main event of Sakura's confession in chapter 469—for those of you who did not recognize it. This adds on to a lot of which is happening. In fact, I have quite a number of things laced into the oneshot, which are based from the confession, so hopefully it was read between the lines. If not, it works either way.
For the most part, I just hope that you all enjoyed the read. I shall see you in my next oneshot : )
Thank you. Leave me your regards in a review.