disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to crumpled cash and texting at midnight.
notes: post-canon is quite a lot of fun.
notes2: for sasusaku_month on LJ. the prompt was "she was a wreck, but so was he," under post-canon.

title: vodkaquiet
summary: Vodka doesn't like theatrics, but they're low on vocabulary and she's drunk in his kitchen, so theatrics is all they have. — Sasuke/Sakura.

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Sasuke would never understand why she came to him.

In the dead of night when everything was silent and perfectly still, she climbed into his window, like a thief only less guilty. Up the fire escape like a monkey-girl, Sasuke could hear her fingers scrabbling at the closed sill. It would take her fourteen and a half seconds to get it open, and then she would be inside.

The condensation on the outside of the bottle of vodka flared to brilliance in the lamplight, and Sasuke waited.

Three minutes and forty-two seconds later, Sakura stood in the kitchen doorframe.

Sasuke didn't look up.

But he gestured to the seat on his left and she sat without a word. The lamp that hung above them was the only light; it illuminated them in a gray-yellow glow that left them both looking somewhere between alive-but-only-just and sickening, skin stretched tightly over their bones. The vodka sat between them, glowing white and flickering in and out of existence.

There was no sound.

The air felt breathless like dying or maybe giving up, and Sakura wrapped her fingers around the neck of the bottle and brought it to her lips. The alcohol burned an angry path down her throat, warming her from the inside out, raising gooseflesh on her skin.

Sasuke watched her set the bottle down. Her fingers were imprinted on the frosted glass, proof that she existed; that she was there in his kitchen, halfway to drunk and all the way to broken.

She was a wreck, Sasuke thought.

But so was he, and so they were even.

He wondered when she'd last slept, and then decided it didn't matter. Sakura chose to do as Sakura chose to do, and there was very little Sasuke could do to change it. Instead, he reached for the bottle, and drank in turn because neither of them had any words and comfort was not something most nin were any good at.

Drinking to oblivion was better than comfort, most often.

Perhaps that was why she came, Sasuke thought idly. He had no designs on comfort; he'd told her that, blunt and honest, a very long time ago. That he could never make her all the way happy. Perhaps that he could never make her even a little bit happy.

She'd looked at him then with hope in her eyes.

But they'd only been children.

Children didn't understand things like betrayal or death or lust or war. Children didn't understand how fleeting forever was; that forever didn't even really exist. Children didn't understand how time warped and blurred memories and pain until it was little more than a long-forgotten smear on the psyche. Children didn't understand the want to not be alone.

Sometimes, Sasuke thought with a silent snort, he still didn't understand those things.

Being a victim to something didn't necessarily mean that one understood it.

Sakura was tracing the lip of the bottle with her tongue, and Sasuke's mouth went dry. It was truth in cliché, breathing in the rented air and with no intention of leaving.

The spike of lust was as familiar to Sasuke as it ought to have been foreign.

It made no sense. But then, what in life made sense, really. Coming home had made no sense, nor had the little apartment on the outskirts of the city tucked behind Sakura's hospital. Naruto made no kind of sense ever, but that was a given, and Sakura…

Sakura made sense.

Sasuke just didn't want to admit it.

He took the bottle from her and their fingers brushed. Little sparks of electricity shot up his fingers, lightning blue and whispering the remnants of a thousand screaming birds. Sparking up his arms, the chakra hissed towards her, and it was brand her, claim her, mark her, mine, mine, mine, mineminemine

Sakura didn't even seem to notice.

The bottle left rings of condensation on the table-top, already staining the wood. Sasuke watched Sakura drag her index finger through it; watched her paint her name over and over as the water-hiragana dried. Sa-ku-ra. Sa-ku-ra. Sa-ku-ra. Sa-ku -ra. Sa-ku-ra.

Sasuke had no words for her; he had nothing that could make it better. He didn't even know if there was anything to make better—was there? He didn't think so. She tucked pink hair behind her ear, and Sasuke caught a glimpse of pale throat, pale collarbone, pale skin as she shifted.

She made him ache. With her pink hair and her green eyes and her pale skin, she made him want. With every touch, every breath, every smile, she made him need. With every move, every blink, every heartbeat, she made him ache.

And oh, how he ached.

The happiness in her eyes had been gone so long that Sasuke didn't remember what it looked like when she properly smiled. He watched her raise the bottle to her lips (again, again); she downed it like quicksilver and Sasuke wanted to touch her throat, wanted to feel her muscles contract and pulse as she swallowed.

The wanting would never leave, he thought.

And he would never be able to make her happy.

Once, he'd thought that maybe he ought to make her leave—really leave, the forever kind of goodbye. It wasn't fair to keep her. She would never be able to smile freely, and she… deserved to be with someone who could make her happy. Sasuke had grit his teeth, and tried to tell her so.

Only Sakura hadn't wanted it.

And Sasuke had realized that he was far too selfish to ever really allow her to love someone else.

The clink of bottle against table was far-off, and Sasuke pulled himself out of his thoughts. They clung to him, fought to draw him back into their depths. Sasuke resisted the dark pull, and stared at Sakura.

She was looking at him like a hazy moon, a ghost of a smile quirking her lips upward. She tipped her head to the side, and Sasuke stared at the soft stretch of her throat.

It was with shaking hands that he touched her skin. Sakura's lips parted, but she made no sound.

His fingers were like ice, trembling up and down when she dropped her face into his palm. Sasuke could feel her blood rushing through her body, a pulse as her heart beat a frantically alive staccato. Killing her would have been easy had she not lived under his skin.

He could have killed her, hands frozen around her throat, violence and fury and fuck, she trusted so easily, too easily, but—

(it had always been like that, between them. The lust sang along his bones; sang for her; whispered the need: mark her, brand her, claim her because she was Sakura)

—she smiled and he brushed her shoulder with his lips. She didn't push him away.

In the midnight quiet, the lack of sound was a strange comfort. Sasuke gathered up all of Sakura's ragged edges; picked her up because she was never one to resist. The empty vodka bottle sat shining and forgotten on the table.

He walked to the sound of her breathing and the click of the light as they left.

Sakura looked at him with child-eyes and kissed him with cranberry-lips. Already naked in the dark, she curled under the covers of his bed like a disease with her hair across his pillow. In the morning, everything would smell like her. In the morning, she would be gone.

Sasuke pinned her wrists above her head and kissed the breath out of her lungs. She tasted like sin and vodka, forbidden fruit and silence. He held her throat and listened to her heartbeat.

It was just enough.

In the midnight room, he was just enough for her.

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fin.
notes3: leave a review, my beauties!