-o-

The Road Less Traveled

-o-

Since the day they had been seated next to each other in Kindergarden, Sasuke Uchiha had been enchanted by Sakura Haruno.

Everything about her just screamed freak! From her atrocious pink hair, to her glowing apple-green eyes. And Sakura lived up to her appearence-always playing the class clown with that Uzumaki kid that Sasuke couldn't stand.

They were always together, and this didn't change until halfway through the year, when Sasuke finally got the courage to talk to Sakura Haruno.

"Happy Valentines Day," He said, standing over her as she toyed with the mini train set, obviously panning some hilarious scene she could share with Naruto later.

"Mhmm." She hummed, barely looking up at him. Sasuke admired the way she cvould get so immersed in a project, but not her habit of ignoring him.

"Well," Sasuke said, shifting his weigh between his feet, "I guess I'll see you later." And he turned around, ready to forget all about Sakura Haruno and her pretty hair and pretty eyes, when she did something that surprised him.

"Your hair looks like a chickens butt, did you know that?"

And, despite the insult, Sasuke almost grinned. He didn't, because Uchiha men did not grin, but he had never felt more inclined to until that moment. She had talked to him. And though it wasn't much, it was a start.

"Shut up, Haruno."

-o-

Finally, Sasuke thought, watching the clock. They would officially be graduating from ninja school in 3...2...1...

RING.

Off went the bell. Sasuke smirked to himself. At least, he did, until he heard Sakura's abnoxious voice shouting over the crowd.

"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH! I'mma free bitch baby!"

Her and Naruto high fived while the rest of the class giggled at their antics. How had the two class clowns managed to make it to graduation, anyway? Should kids like that really be allowed to become ninja?

The class had begun to file out, but not him. Sasuke stayed where he was, watching Sakura converse with the Uzumaki kid.

Did she know that he was the Kyuubi container? And if she did, was she afraid? She didn't look afraid, just carefree and happy-as she always did.

Sasuke stood up and gathered his stuff, ready to head home and eat dinner. But the sound of Sakura's laugher stopped him.

She was laughing.

At something the Kyuubi had said.

But not just laughing-No, Sakura was laughing flirtatiously. It was obvious from the almost breathy sound of her voice. The way she twirled a strand of her (prettyprettypretty) pink hair around her finger. It was the speical sparkle her eyes always seemed to have around Naruto.

Sakura was flirting.

He gathered his stuff and shuffled out of the roo mas quickly as possible.

-o-

"Alright, kiddos," Iruka said, grinning at them all. "From now on, you are all official Konoha ninja. And since you're genin, we decided to start you all off in groups of three.

Ugh, Sasuke thought, more people to slow me down.

Iruka read off the list of groups, going agonizingly slowly.

"And Team 7 will be Sakura Haruno, Naruto Uzumaki-"

There was a loud cheer from both parties.

"-Sasuke Uchiha."

"Hn."

"Please go sit next to your respective team members."

Sakura and Naruto plopped down on either side of him.

"Hey," Sakura said, friendly. After all, this may have been the first time they'd ever spoken.

"Yo," Naruto growled, playing nice for Sakura's sake. Sasuke nodded at both of them, but otherwise stayed silent. Itachi always said how shy Sasuke was, but the younger boy liked to think of it as more of an aloof coolness.

-o-

Get the bell, Sasuke...it'll be easy. Hn. Easy my ass. Sasuke stood in his tree, poised like a creeper, waiting for Kakashi to run past him. Their teacher had told them to 'get the bells' but that was proving harder then Sasuke originally had thought.

Stupid Kakashi. As if Sasuke needed to catch a fucking bell from him to know he would make a good shinobo. He was an Uchiha, after all.

A flash of pink under Sasuke's tree caught his attention. Sakura was standing at the base of the trunk, looking around anxiously. She was obviously in ninja-mode. Sasuke was facinated; Sakura had never been the best in class when it came to physical things, but she looked utterly...fierce right at that moment for a girl with pink hair.

"Alright, Kakashi, where are you?" She mumbled, glaring at the tree. "So you know where he went, tree? TELL ME!" And Sakura slammed her foot against the wood with surprising force, sending Sasuke tumbling from the tree and ontop of Sakura.

"Ugh..." They both groaned. Sakura was the first to open her eyes. She wasn't too happy, however, when she saw the position her and Sasuke were in.

"Uchiha..." Sakura started, barely supressed rage in her voice.

"Hn?" Sasuke picked himself up, watching an angry Sakura seeth underneath him. "What's wrong?"

"GET THE HELL OFF OF ME!"

-o-

"My innocence...it's gone. Gonegonegonegonegone!" Sakura cried as Sasuke looked on, unperturbed. A confused Naruto was tied to the trunk between them.

"What happened?" He asked.

"It's your own fault for kicking the tree." Sasuke pointed out, rather rudely, if you were to ask Sakura.

"YOU TRIED TO RAPE ME!"

"No, I didn't. You kicked my tree and I fell out of it. You just happened o be blocking the ground at that precise moment."

"WHY WERE YOU CREEPIN ON ME IN A TREE ANYWAY? HUH?"

"Hn."

"SAKURA-CHAN, DID THIS TEME REALLY TRY TO RAPE YOU?"

"No."

"YES. YES HE DID. KILL HIM FOR ME, NARUTO!"

"LEMMER AT EM'!"

Sasuke sighed. His genin days were not going as planned.

Really, he wasn't even thinking of raping her.

"Please, you're not even that pretty. Who would rape you?" But, in the back of his mind, a little voice was nagging Sasuke that he shouldn't lie to pretty girls.

I would never lie to Naruto.

Hn. Smartass.

Sakura stared at him, mouth agape. "Y-you ASSHOLE!"

And that was the beginning of the end for Sasuke Uchiha.

-o-

"Sasuke, you dumbass! Don't you dare die on me! Don't you dare!"

Someone was yelling his name, Sasuke realized. It sounded like a girl. He cracked an eye open, and was met by the teary-eyed face of Sakura Haruno. She looked so innocent-eyes wide with fear (fear for him?) and cheeks red from crying. Her green irises stood out even more between her blotchy skin.

And his head was resting on her lap. If Sasuke didn't feel like there were a thousand needles wedged in his body, he might have blushed.

The relief was evident on Sakura's face. "Oh thank God, you're alive!"

Ragged as he was, Sasuke still managed a smirk. "Worried about me, Haruno?"

A choked laugh came out of her throat. "You're an idiot, Uchiha."

Naruto's loud voice, from all the way on the other end of the pier, broke the moment. "HEY, TEME, THE OLD MAN SAYS HE'S GONNA NAME THE BRIDGE AFTER ME! HAHA!"

-o-

Who knew Sakura could fight like that?

He'd watched her, unconciously, as she fought back the Sound nin. She put up a damn good fight, too, for one against three. Sakura had taken out two of them, but when the last one aimed a fist at her, Sasuke couldn't take it anymore.

The place where Orocreep had bit him was burning.

No, not just burning.

It was on fire.

He stood up, pushing Sakura gently out of the way, and watched himself (as if from a distance) threaten to break the enemy nin's arm. The asshole deserved it for touching his Sakura.

Then he felt someone else's arms. Someone else's arms being thrown around him. And he felt breathing on his neck.

"Don't do it, Sasuke. Please, don't!"

And so he didn't.

He would do anything for her.

-o-

"Listen, teme," Naruto sauntered up to the lone Uchiha, who was currently sitting at the training grounds waiting for the others to arrive. It was just his luck (sarcasm!) that Naruto had been the first to appear.

"Hn?" Sasuke was only half listening. The other half of his mind was waiting for a blob of pink to pop out of the trees and for Sakura to come with it, grinning as she made her way to the training grounds.

"Don't think I haven't seen the way you look at Sakura-chan! And just so you know, don;t get any funny ideas! She's mine!" Naruto ranted, finger pointed indignantly at Sasuke.

He smirked at this, riled up Naruto was always fun.

"Did Sakura ever say she was yours?"

"Uh..." Naruto blushed and figited with his fingers. "No..."

"Then she's not yours. If anything, Sakura is mine." Because he was an Uchiha, and Uchiha's ruled the world.

"OH HELL NO!"

And just then, Kakashi decided to make his way to the training grounds. He was met with a pleasent surprise when he saw Naruto and Sasuke were already sparring.

-o-

Not Sakura, Not Sakura, NOT SAKURA...

Sasuke watched as Gaara's sand fell away from her, Naruto having defeated Suna's resident beast. He couldn't do anything to save her, not one thing. Sasuke had been useless, helpless, and Sakura had gotten hurt because of it.

He swore to never let it happen again.

-o-

"Yo." Sasuke cracked his eyes open, squinting at the harsh light streaming in through one of the hospital windows.

"What...happened?" He croaked out, watching as a (prettyprettypretty) half-smile lingered on Sakura's lips. She was dressed casually, instead of in her ninja gear, for once. A red skirt and tight white t-shirt were all she had on. That, and sandals.

"You went all 'Uchiha Man' on some strong ninja dude and he knocked the shit outta you." Sakura was full on grinning now, but Sasuke didn't see what was so funny about the situation.

"What's so funny?"

Sakura's eyes twinkled, the same way they did when she was laughing with Naruto. "You drool when you sleep, dummy."

Sasuke almost blushed. Almost.

But he was an Uchiha. And Uchiha did not blush.

"Hn."

And then he fell back asleep to the sound of her laughter.

-o-

"Where the hell do you think you're going, Uchiha?" Sakura asked, a scowled donning her usually cute features.

Sasuke didn't turned around. He was so close to the back entrance of Konoha, he couldn't go back now. He had to go and get stronger. He had to defeat Itachi. He had to gain the power to protect Sakura.

She wouldn't undertsand.

"I'm leaving." He said, voice as cold as he could make it sound.

Sakura shivered. Was it her, or did the temperature just drop about ten degrees?

But her voice was steady when she spoke. "No, you're not. This is stupid, Sasuke. Stay here." With me, She mentally added.

"I'm going to become powerful."

"You're already powerful! Don't leave!" She ran up to his turned back, grasping Sasuke's wrist.

He whipped around and snatched his hand back.

"Ouch." Sakura whispered, the wind catching her words and carrying them to Sasuke's ears. She let out a small giggle. "I always knew you'd be the one to break my heart, Sasuke."

He stared, eyes wide, as Sakura went on. "Oh, I know what you're think 'but you hate me!' You're right, I do hate you. But I have a reason to."

When Sauske said nothing, Sakura took this as a sign to continue.

"See, I've kind of had this thing for you since you almost dies back in the Land of Waves. It was just a small feeling at first, something I shook off whenever it came back. But then you got hurt trying to save me in the Forest of Death, and that's when the feelings really grew."

With another small giggle, Sakura finally let their eyes meet. "You're like a disease. Growing on me until I can't deny that something is wrong. Even Naruto noticed when I fell head over heels in love with you, Uchiha."

Sasuke was speechless. He stood there like an idiot, trying to digest her words.

Finally, he spoke. "Sakura," He said, close to tears that he refused to cry, "Thank you."

And then he was behind her, knocking her out, laying he ron the bench, and kissing her lightly on the lips. "Goodbye," Sasuke whispered, "maybe one day, Sakura. Maybe one day."

-o-

There he was, Sakura thought, standing with Naruto and Yamamoto and Sai as they watched Sasuke stand on the cliff ledge above them. He stared down at them cooly, the same way he had looked at Sakura when he had fallen on top of her their first day as team seven.

She couldn't handle it. Not again.

So Sakura let chakra gather into her fists, she let the hate consume her, as Sasuke had years before, and she let herself hate-dispise-Sasuke Uchiha.

-o-

He had tried to kill her.

Sasuke had actually tried to kill her.

How could he? Sakura thought groggily, watching in slow motion as Naruto swept in just in time to save Sakura. She almost fainted from the incredibility of it all. Two years ago, she was confessing her love to this boy. And now he had tried to kill her.

Naruto was speaking, yelling, actually, but she couldn't focuse on his words. He seemed shocked, too, though. Good to know she wasn't the only one.

"Sasuke, WHAT THE HELL! DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH SAKURA-CHAN!" Naruto screamed at his former best friend. He left Sakura leaning against the rock wall, allowing her the chance to catch her breath.

Sasuke smirked. "Hm. Angry, Dobe?"

"YES I'M FUCKING ANGRY! YOU ALMOST KILLED SAKURA-CHAN!"

"Almost? That's too bad." Sasuke smirked again, causing Naruto to see red. How dare he? This was the same boy who Naruto had fought over for Sakura's affections! How could he just kill her without a sliver of remorse?

"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU, SASUKE!"

-o-

Sasuke knew he was twisted.

He knew he was sick.

And he was disgusted with himself for almost killing the only girl he had ever (and would ever) love.

If Naruto hadn't shown up when he had, Sasuke didn't know what he would've done.

He was a sick, twisted man.

But he was in love. And always would be.

-o-

"Sakura." Naruto and Kakashi had dragged him back to Konoha. He had pretty much let them, since the Akatsuki was gone and Naruto had succeeded in becoming Hokage. There was no point in running anymore, and, frankly, Sasuke was tired of it.

"Sasuke." The steely-eyed rosette sat next to him at Ichiroku's, Naruto nowhere in sight. Sasuke had ditched his purple ass-bow for a pair of black nin pants and a black vest. Sakura was in her usual attire. The only difference from the last time they met was that she had allowed her hair to grow out to the middle of her back.

Sasuke knew there had to be some way to get through to her, to apologize for all he's done. But he hadn't a clue where to start.

But it made sense to begin where they had left off.

"I love you, too."

And so it began.

-o-

fin.

Does this baby need a sequel? Lemme know!

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