I know, it's kind of a typical 'Oh my Gosh Sasuke is back' Story. But it's my version of Sasuke returning. :) I hope you like it!
"Love never dies a natural death…
Love dies because we don't know how to replenish its source.
Love dies of blindness and errors and betrayals.
Love dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishing."
My Darkness: Chapter I
The Darkness in Her Heart
Six years of searching, waiting, hoping.
And still there was nothing.
Six years really was a long time; long enough to grow up, long enough to give up on childish dreams. But she couldn't... not when most of her teenage years had been spent pining after him, praying every night that he would come home..
But he hadn't.
Not even a word in six years.
She had actually started to assume that he was dead. Maybe that would be the best for everyone.. if he just died and never came back at all. Even if it was the opposite of what she wanted, if it was better for everyone else, shouldn't she make that sacrifice?
She buried her nose in more of Tsunade's paperwork, trying to focus on those instead of the train of thought her mind had been drifting to lately. It was getting close to that time... the anniversary of Sasuke's departure.
As much as she didn't want to remember, the date was scarred into her memory, haunting her every time the days grew nearer. During that time she tended to close herself off from other people, trying to make it as casual as possible. She would lock her doors, close her windows, and drink the night away until it all seemed to blur together.
That was one of the better things she learned from her mentor. Sake helps numb the senses. Especially in times when it's needed the most.
"No. Enough." She scolded herself, trying to set her mind on the papers again. There was work to be done, and she didn't have time to be living in the past. Tsunade was in no shape to do the work and so Sakura had to pick up her mentor's slack and help.
She couldn't blame Tsunade for the state she was in right now. It was around the time that Dan was killed... and Tsunade was in her drunken state of numbness. Sakura knew enough about her own experiences that she wouldn't want to be dealing with work right now.. and that's what she and Shizune were for.
Naruto exploded into her room then, his hair dishevelled and his clothing rumpled. He'd run here. "What's wrong?" She asked, standing up and moving around the desk.
"Tsunade's calling us to the tower. It's an emergency!" He said, turning and running from the room again. Sakura furrowed her brows together, leaving the paperwork and following after him.
Tsunade rarely ever called for emergencies even if she was drunk she wouldn't make it that urgent. She trailed after Naruto, keeping her eyes on his orange clothes until they reached the Hokage tower. They burst through the doors and stood before the Hokage, waiting for the urgent message.
"What is it?" Sakura insited, waiting.
Tsunade spun around in her chair, watching the two ninjas before her with careful eyes. She knew that it would pain them to hear the news that she was about to bring, but it had to be done. She would rather tell them herself than have them find out on their own.
"It's about Sasuke." She said cautiously, waiting for an outburst, though neither of them gave one. They stood there, frozen in shock, staring at their Hokage and waiting for the rest of it.
They hadn't heard a word about Sasuke for six years... it was like he vanished right off the map, disappeared or dead. But obviously he hadn't been dead... unless that was the news Tsunade was about to give them.
"What about him?" Naruto pressed, leaning against her desk, his eyes wild and wanting the news.
Sakura froze, staring at her mentor with wide eyes. He was back? Why? What in the hell did he need here? Did he come with someone? Did he run all the way here? Was he under arrest? Did he come to attack?
Hundreds of questions were running through her mind. Why now? What was he trying to accomplish that brought him back here? That's the only way she could imagine him returning. He had some sort of ulterior motive... some plan that they were all going to fall for if they let him back unscathed.
"What?" Naruto stuttered, being the first of the two to speak. He always handled bad news better than Sakura, and for that she was grateful.
"He handed himself in. The councils will be gathering soon to decide his fate. For now he is being held in the hospital."
"You think a hospital is going to detain him if he wants to wreak havoc on our city?" Naruto asked, calm yet stunned.
"There are a powerful number of jutsus surrounding his room and some of our anbu are standing guard at his door; not to mention the state he was in when he arrived. He will not be leaving any time soon." Tsunade assured Naruto, rubbing a hand over her face.
But her words didn't matter to Sakura. She was still frozen in place, thinking of how close he was now. He was in the village. Not five minutes away from her. And it was terrifying. Part of her wanted to go and see him; the part that she had been suppressing for so long. The part that chased after him the night he left and begged him to stay. The part that cried for him, threw her feelings in the open for him and was left unconscious on a bench.
The other part, the part that she favoured wanted to avoid him completely. That part hated him for betraying his village; leaving his friends and his teachers. Leaving for revenge and power. That part wanted to go and see him only to kill him. If she saw him, she had conflicted ideas on what she would do. She would either clench her fists and fight him until he was nothing but a bloody pulp, or stare at him in shock, unable to move.
But he was really back.
Tsunade watched her apprentice curiously. Her eyes were wide, still shocked from the news, and she could tell that her mind was running a thousand miles per second. She had expected that reaction from Sakura. The girl had loved him. At least that's what the word around town was. She fell in love with him, begged him to stay and he left her behind.
She couldn't begin to imagine the emotions that Sakura was feeling, though she assumed that there would be more than one, all conflicting with each other. The love, the hate, the anger, the loss, the sadness, the fury and so much more.
"I'm going to see him." Naruto said suddenly, pushing off of the desk and turning around to leave. That was the first time he saw Sakura's shell shocked expression. He rested his hand on her shoulder, giving it a tight squeeze before walking past her. There was nothing he could do to help her, not at that moment. So he would wait until later, until she was ready to talk about it.
"Naruto, wait." She whispered, causing him to stop and turn around in surprise. She turned as well, chewing on her lip. "I'm coming with you."
He rose his eyebrows in surprise, but offered her his hand any ways. She took it gratefully, her own hand shaking in his. Naruto glanced back at Tsunade, a concerned expression on his face. He wanted Tsunade to be ready for a break down if he couldn't handle the brunt of it. Yes, he was her best friend, but Sakura didn't always want to talk to him about things; especially not Sasuke.
Sakura held on to Naruto's hand desperately as they walked out of the Hokage tower, unsure of her decision. What if she lost it when she saw him.. what if, what if, what if.
Normally the hospital was her safe haven, the one place she could go and just work without being bothered. But now it felt like her doom, and the closer she got to it, the further away from herself she felt. If her spirit could un-attach from her body, that's what it felt like... like she was watching herself as she walked nearer and nearer, shaking her head.
It was all too real.
Much too real. Sasuke couldn't really be back. In a few hours she would wake up from this dream and curse herself for dreaming about him. Him. Of all people.
It had taken her so long after he left just to feel... okay. To remember how to smile, how to put the happiness on her face again. He had given so much of herself to him and he had given nothing in return. He left and was met with power and an immediate future. But Sakura was left broken and feeling helpless and alone.
Who did he think he was? Why did he think he could come back here so easily. She would not welcome him back with open arms. If that's what he wanted; for things to go back to how they were before... he was in for a rude awakening. Sakura would never let herself feel that way again.
"If you won't stay then take me with you! I will you help you anyway I can, and I promise everyday will be fun! If you leave… it will be the same as being completely alone to me! I love you!"
She shook the memory from her head clenching her hand into a fist.
She'd been training for six years; trying to become stronger, trying to forget the weak little girl she had been. A useless member of Team 7. And now she was stronger, so much stronger. She was anbu, and that was no small feat. She led missions now. And even the mention of his name and she was reduced to nothing more than a shaky, broken mess.
Too much. It was definitely too much. She couldn't do this. She had to turn around.
But her legs kept walking.
It was a bad sign; a very bad sign. If she didn't even have control of herself now, she could only imagine herself when she finally saw him. Six years was a long time... long enough to change.. to grow up... how much had he changed? How different did he look; how mature?
They were in the hospital now, and Sakura was clinging to Naruto's hand for dear life. As if the second she let go she would tumble into a state of despair.
"It's okay." Naruto murmured. Unsure whether he was using his words to calm Sakura or himself. He had been searching for Sasuke for six years, six years and he turned up once.
A year after he'd left they found him... and he didn't want to come back. So why now? What was he doing back now?
The anbu were stationed at the end of the hall and right outside the door. They took one look at Naruto and Sakura and nodded their heads, allowing them passage. Obviously this was a no civilian zone, as it should be. If Sasuke really did decide to attack the village, then there shouldn't be any immediate casualties.
They stopped in front of the door, neither of them breathing. Six years... and he was on the other side of a door. They didn't move, didn't say anything. It was Sakura who finally reached forward, dropping his hand and pushing the door open.
Naruto watched her in surprise, wondering what was going on in her head. If she was going to be a mess, he needed to be strong. That's how their relationship worked. Naruto was her rock when she needed him to be; always there to listen and help her. But he couldn't help her if he was feeling the exact same way about his return.
He walked in first, moving down the small hall until the room opened up before him. The curtains were open, and there he was, sitting on the bed. In bad shape, but really, tangibly there.
Sakura straightened up; she would not let him see her weak like this. She would not let him reduce her to that girl again. Ever again. She stood slightly behind Naruto, using him as a sort of shield.
Sasuke sat on the bed, staring out at Konoha through the window. He hadn't even turned to look at them yet, and she was more than sure that he had heard them arrive. His chest moved up and down. He was breathing. He was alive. He was there.
"It's really you, isn't it." Naruto said, crossing his arms over his chest. Sasuke slowly turned to look at him, his face void of emotion as he watched his former team mate. Then his eyes landed on Sakura.
She squirmed slightly, repositioning herself so she could lean back against the wall. Without it, she felt like she was going to fall over.
He had matured in more ways than one.
He was more muscled, that much she could tell, even from this distance, and probably taller, judging from how tall he seemed even sitting on a bed. His face was still similar, but there was no doubt that he had aged. Probably better looking than before, she would think. But that didn't change the fact that he was a heartless bastard.
She had changed too. She'd gotten taller, stronger, and she knew that her chest had finally filled out. A good thing; she was afraid that all of her training was sure to stunt their growth.
Sasuke never responded to Naruto, merely stared back out the window, looking none too happy. At least that was an emotion; boredness. Sort of...
"Why did you come back?" Naruto asked, moving further into the room and standing in front of the window so he couldn't be ignored.
"I got what I needed." he stated. His voice was deeper, more intense than the thirteen year old voice she recognized.
"You should've known how you would be treated when you came back."
"I did." Sakura couldn't believe how emotionless his voice sounded. If she'd had any doubt that there was no heart in his chest, she was sure of it now. There couldn't be anything in there... it must've been completely hollow.
"Why risk being killed?"
Sasuke let out a breath; something close to a sigh. "I've achieved my goal. Itachi is dead. If Konoha wishes me dead as well then so be it."
Sakura shook her head, narrowing her eyes at him. He got revenge, so now his life had no meaning? He was just going to give up and let them make their decision? Would he not put up a fight if their choice was to kill him? Would he sit there, passively and just wait until he was really dead.
The air in the room was tense and uneasy. They didn't know how to act around each other any more after so many years of separation. They weren't the united team they once were... there was no way they could get back together now; no way they could reunite the fight.
"You idiot." Sakura hissed under her breath. Sasuke and Naruto both looked at her, Naruto with his mouth hanging open slightly. Clearly he hadn't expected her to say anything. She had a long list of things that she would've liked to say to him, none of which were too pleasant, but things that he needed to hear. She scoffed and shook her head, pushing off the wall. "You never should have come back."
Naruto watched in complete shock as Sakura breezed from the room. He hadn't thought she would speak at all, and even if she had, he never would've thought something so callous would have come from her mouth.
He looked back to Sasuke, who was where she stood with emotionless eyes, as if what she said might have actually bothered him, though Naruto didn't think anything could really bother an Uchiha.
Naruto sighed, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall. "Sakura has changed a lot you know." He commented, looking at his former team mate from the corner of his eye.
He was staring down at his hands, his expression grim. At least grim was something.
Sakura collapsed against the hospital wall once she was outside and in the fresh air. Sasuke was back. He was back. Back, back. Maybe for good back. And she could hardly bare to look at him, not to mention the way her heart was pounding against her chest.
But it wasn't love, she reminded herself. Not any more. It was anxiety; she was nervous to see what he was like now after six years, and it seemed she was disappointed. He was still incapable of showing emotion, and therefore, she concluded, incapable of letting people in, of loving. So he wasn't worth her time.
She meant what she said; he shouldn't have come back. It would've been better for everyone if he stayed missing. One day of the year mourning was enough... she didn't need it everyday. Yet saying those words to him had hurt her in an odd way. Like she wanted to hurt him, to make him feel the pain he had caused her, but saying it had caused her some pain as well.
He was the darkness in her heart, the one that refused to completely go away no matter hard hard she begged it to. Now it was back and stronger than ever, making her remember things; the way she trailed after him, the way she longed for his touch. And she wanted nothing to do with them.
Sakura was a different person now; she didn't care about him. But the fact that she had to continue reminding herself that proved the opposite, didn't it?
Something wet splashed on her legs, and she was taken aback by the fact that she might be crying. Over what? Over the return of an emotionless bastard? But then she looked up at the sky, the rain coming harder. Nature was crying for her.
She straightened up, pushing herself from the wall and marching herself into the streets, not looking back. All she wanted now was her warm bed and the idea that Sasuke was a hell of a lot further away.
Every step she took was distancing herself from him, and she liked it better than moving closer to him. It was funny how much her priorities had changed since then. She would've done anything to find him back then, and now all she wanted was for him to get out of Konoha. Leave her to that one day, and move on.
The rain was coming harder, the clouds grey and unfriendly. This weather reminded her of funerals; it always seemed to rain when people were mourning a death. Seemed symbolic enough now.
She passed by merchants who were hurriedly gathering their supplies to bring it out of the rain. And there she was, walking slowly, letting the rain soak into her body. At least then she knew this wasn't a dream.
Without that reminder, she felt like it could be. He was giving himself up to die. To die because his life no longer had a purpose. He'd achieved what he wanted; Itachi was dead, so really, revenge was out of the picture and now his life was meaningless.
But that wasn't fair to anyone.
He couldn't just give up. What if the council decided not to kill him? What would he do then?
She opened the door to her apartment, stripping off her wet clothes and moving herself to stand in the hot shower. At least here she could clear her mind and warm up at the same time.
So many questions that she just wanted him to answer; even if she couldn't stand to talk to him. Naruto could ask them for her, Sasuke seemed to respond to him, happily or not.
If her questions were answered, she had some idea how she could move on. At least she would know what he was up to; at least he wouldn't be surprising her. But that was only if he survived the council meeting.
The next morning, Sakura was paged to the Hokage Tower again, her heart racing. What other news could Tsunade have? Orochimaru was outside the village, looking for his vessel to return back to him, the Leaf Village was going to be at war, Sasuke was causing problems that she needed to deal with. Hopefully it had nothing to do with Sasuke and more to do with her position as a ninja. She was anbu. Tsunade should be giving her a mission.
She needed to kill something.
Tsunade looked up from her paperwork, her eyes serious. "Sakura." She said calmly, acknowledging her Apprentice's arrival. Sakura couldn't help but notice all of the empty sake bottles in the corner of the room. Shizune would be disposing of those soon, or maybe Tsunade wanted them gone now, and that's why she'd been paged.
Her mentor put down the papers and let out a sigh, standing up and moving so she was leaning against the front of the desk, closer to her pupil and closer to help her if she received a bad reaction.
"You understand that the council will be gathering soon."
Sakura rose an eyebrow, not liking where it was going. Of course she had hoped for too much when she wished it not to have to do with Sasuke. "Yes, I do."
Tsunade paused, weighing her words as she always did whenever Sasuke's name was brought up. "I won't be attending the meeting."
"You're just going to let the elders decide? Don't you think they would appreciate your input?" Tsunade shrugged, bobbing her head.
"They may want mine, but I was thinking of sending someone in my stead."
She paused, appraising her mentor with questioning eyes and biting down on her bottom lip. "Did you summon me to tell me this?"
"I want you to go, Sakura."
Sakura couldn't believe that she was going to ask her decided whether or not Sasuke lived or died. That wasn't fair in any way.
"No." She said suddenly, turning to leave.
"Sakura, I wasn't asking."
She whirled around, tears springing to her eyes. "Is this some kind of test? You want to know how I feel about him?" She yelled.
Tsunade remained in her position, waiting for her outburst to end. "Sakura."
"I hate him! I hate him for what he did to me. I hate him for leaving, I hate him, I hate him, I hate him!" Sakura cried out, her chest heaving with sobs. "I hate him so much." She whispered, wrapping her arms around herself.
So then why did the thought of the elders killing him bother her so much?
Tsunade pulled Sakura into her arms, giving her a hug that she knew she needed. "I think that Naruto would want some say in it. You are the voice of his classmates, Sakura. The ones that chased after him when they left. This is your chance to make things right. To set things the way you think they should be."
She shook her head, crying into the Hokage's shoulder. "I can't. I can't do it."
"Yes, you can." She whispered, releasing the anbu squad leader from her embrace. "I trained you to be strong physically, Sakura. Now I'm teaching you to do it emotionally."
Sakura took a deep breathing, wiping her tears away. A ninja in her position wasn't supposed to cry; she wasnt' supposed to take sides, she was supposed to remain emotionless when it came to political matters.
And now she found herself right in the middle of it. Deciding whether or not a missing ninja that handed himself in should live. If Sasuke should live. If it was anyone other than that bastard, the decision would have been easy. He had betrayed the village, killed hundreds upon thousands of people. Yes, he should die. She couldn't let the fact that they were former team mates cloud her judgement. Shen needed to remain completely neutral during the meeting. He was just a man. He wasn't anything special to her.
She didn't even know him.
So, since I know from experience that reviewing is tedious because you don't always know what to say and you just want to put it on alert and be done with it, I've given you some hints so it won't take much effort.
"Oh my gosh, Sasuke is back! What is Sakura going to do? She has to decide his fate! OMIGOSHHHH!"
So just click on the review button, copy and paste that into the box, and Voila! You've reviewed! :)