disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to my cat because she's the only one that loves me.
notes: for sasusaku_month over on LJ. prompt was summer under chance meetings.

title: carnations after sundown
summary: A lifetime in four short days. "I love you. Did you know that?" — Sasuke/Sakura.

.

.

.

.

.

Sakura met Sasuke on accident.

It shouldn't have even happened. The last four days of Sakura's stay at her grandparents' cabin ought to have been spent tanning on the beach with Ino and Hinata, drenched in late August sunlight and heat. It ought to have been spent swimming in the ocean. It ought to have been shiny and wonderful and perfect.

Then Sakura just had to go out for a marshmallow run. They'd run out and Ino was insistent on s'mores.

And when Ino insisted on something, the rest of the world simply had to comply.

Sakura sighed at the memory as she pushed her way into the only corner store within walking distance. The bell jingled merrily overhead as the door closed behind her.

It was so hot.

The gush of conditioned air was heaven on the Sakura's neck. A sigh of relief escaped her, and Sakura brushed sticky strands of hair out of her eyes. The girl at the counter gave a little wave—her name was Shiho, and she and Sakura had gotten to know each other on the simple, superficial level of repeat customer and merchant.

"You know where the marshmallows are," Shiho laughed, and Sakura shot her a grin.

Well, it was true. She did know where the marshmallows where. She'd only been there, what, fifty times over the summer? Sakura very nearly skipped around to the food aisle, and quite literally crashed into someone.

They both hit the floor, the groceries in his arms scattering everywhere, and Sakura couldn't even see because her hair was in her face.

"I—I'm so sorry!" she managed, as she pushed her hair out of her eyes.

She found herself looking at a boy with black hair, black eyes, and ghostly pale skin. They simply stared at each other for a few seconds before Sakura flushed, and offered to help him pick up all the flung articles that he'd been carrying.

And that was how Sakura met Sasuke.

.

.

.

.

.

day i.

Sakura woke to birds chirping at 4AM right outside the open window. She groaned and threw her arm over her eyes, determined to fall back asleep. But the sky was already lightening along the horizon and there would be no sleep, now. There was no sense in laying there immobile.

Sakura grumbled her discontent with the world and sat up.

She was going to be a grouch all day, she thought to herself with a sigh. Sakura pushed pink hair out of her line of vision and rubbed at sleep-sticky eyes with the heels of her hands.

Breakfast, then.

Sakura wrapped herself in something white and flowy and long, draping it in folds across her body to ward off the (very) early morning chill. There was a pale line of grey far to the east and she walked down to the beach to stand on the shore and watch the sun rise.

She was very alone. The only sound was the shh-shh of the waves lapping at her toes. For a very long time, Sakura stood there and looked outward, across the flat water.

And then from far away, the sound of steady movement against sand.

Someone was running.

Sakura waited on the beach until that someone came 'round the bend, prepared to greet the neighbours and their dogs with a cheery wave and a smile. Maybe they could stop to have a cup of tea…

But it wasn't the neighbours.

It was that guy from yesterday. The colour went up in Sakura's cheeks at the memory and then stayed there—he wasn't wearing a shirt.

They blinked at each other again.

"Um. Hi," Sakura said.

He inclined his head the barest inch in her direction, slowing to a walk. He looked at her and shrugged just the littlest bit.

Because that was a proper greeting.

Sakura huffed and threw her hair out of her face. "It's rude not to reply when someone says hello, you know! And, seriously, it's not like this is the first time we've met because, hi, I remember helping you pick up all your groceries!"

He actually scoffed. "You crashed into me."

"It was an accident! I apologized!"

Sakura glared. The boy stared blankly.

It lasted all of a minute and a half.

And then a snicker escaped Sakura. "I'm sorry. I'm being ridiculous."

"Hn."

"Would you like a cup of tea? It's kinda chilly, and I never did get your name. I'm Sakura," she said.

He stared at her.

And then:

"Sasuke," he replied.

.

.

.

.

.

day ii.

They were hiding out in the middle of the forest. Dappled in gold-green light, Sakura sat next to Sasuke; back against a dilapidated well with her knees to her chest and laughing in a quiet way. He even seemed a little bit amused.

He didn't seem like he was amused often.

Sakura tipped her head at him, gossamer whorls of pink across her vision. "I've been here all summer. It's… the most beautiful place in the world, you know?"

"Hn."

"You don't talk very much, do you?" she asked.

"Not really."

"Don't you get lonely?"

He was looking at her out of the corner of his eye, Sakura was sure. Maybe measuring—something, anything. But he was looking at her and it felt like her skin was burning, writhing, twisting—

"Hard to be lonely when I'm never alone."

An embarrassed blush crawled up Sakura's neck. She hadn't wanted to…

"I can, um, leave you alone. If, you know, you want," she offered. "I'm sorry, I'm probably bothering you, or—"

"Sakura, shut up."

Sakura rolled her eyes, bright green and flashing with something caught between hurt and annoyance (maybe it was both; she felt a bit like vomiting, anyway). "Fine, be like that. I'll go, god!"

She attempted to stand, pushing back against the well's wall as leverage.

A hand shot out of nowhere to catch her wrist.

"I didn't say that," he replied quietly, and dragged her back down.

The widest smile broke out across Sakura's face.

"Okay," she said. "That's cool."

.

.

.

.

.

day iii.

Sakura was feeling distinctly out of sorts.

And she didn't even know why.

The ocean was glowing with the sunset, liquid gold crested white with the wind; it was a vicious attack on the sandcastles built along the shore. For them, it must have been devastating, Sakura thought. Any bit of water, and the whole thing would crash into the sea.

Sakura wondered if the rest of life was like that, too.

If it was, it was bound to be unhappy.

Sakura watched the sand castles fall to pieces and wondered why Sasuke made her feel like falling through the sky without a parachute. She'd known him for all of—what, two days?

And there was a feeling there that she couldn't put her finger on. It was nostalgia or maybe inevitability but whatever it was, Sakura couldn't shake herself of the shivering feeling of knowing. That she knew him. That she's always known him.

That's ridiculous, Sakura thought, smiling to herself in a bemused way.

No one knew people before they'd met them.

Sure, in books and movies and every trashy romance that she'd secretly filched from Ino's bedroom, it happened all the time. And it music and poetry—really, in every type of media; I knew you before I met you was a phrase that people threw around all the time.

(Not that Sakura ever had, because Sakura was a realist if nothing else.)

Things like that just didn't happen in the real world.

It was stupid to think otherwise.

Sakura took a deep, calming breath in through her nose.

Things were going to be okay.

She just had to wait them out.

.

.

.

.

.

day iv.

"I'm leaving tomorrow." The words came out of her mouth like a whisper, barely audible over the crackle of the bonfire on the beach. Stars twinkled overhead in the last dregs of dusk, sparkling like miniature diamonds.

A beautiful night.

"Hn?"

"My summer's over tomorrow. I have to go back home."

Sasuke stared at her, completely blank.

"Don't look at me like that, it's true!" Sakura told him. "I'm going home."

"…Hn."

Sakura laughed. "You know, you really should say things more. You're kind of boring, Sasuke."

He snorted. "Sakura. Be realistic."

"I am being realistic. You're the one who's all broody and boring!"

Sasuke stared at her again, nonplussed. In the firelight, he looked inhuman; there was a dark cast to his features that had Sakura shivering (in delight). It was beautiful, in a strange way.

Sakura never really had words when it came to Sasuke, anyway.

(They'd only known each other for four days, you know?)

Sakura looked at the sky. "I love you. Did you know that?"

"Hn."

"It's probably just a stupid crush," she chuckled in a miserable way. "I mean, be realistic, right? But the thing is… you're different."

"How?" he asked.

"I dunno," she replied lightly, shrugging. "You just are. And…"

"Hn?"

"And we won't talk, after this. Will we?"

His silence spoke a world of truth.

"That's what I thought. It'll go away, and we won't talk and—and I almost—don't want us to, you know?"

He blinked at her.

"You really need to learn to talk, Sasuke. Just… look, the thing is, this… this whole thing… it's been perfect. Like, actually perfect. And I don't want to—"

"Ruin it."

"Exactly. So can we just…?"

"Yeah," Sasuke said.

Sakura smiled, and leaned into his shoulder.

.

.

.

.

.

fin.
notes2: i have so much love for this ending. so. much. love.
notes3: hey, why don't you leave a review? that'd be pretty cool.