Elevation
I would sink us to swim


On one morning, as ordinary as could be, Sakura gives up on Sasuke.

Just like that. Really, that was all it was. A switch.

Ever since Sasuke's return a few months ago, she had been expectant for some change from the Uchiha.

Needless to say, nothing happened.

She reverted back to her thirteen-year-old state to attempt to salvage some hope.

She clung to the one-sided conversations and faint signs of recognition.

But Sakura didn't honestly know what she was holding onto. There was not much for her to stay.

She was making something out of nothing. And then something out of everything.

This faith was something to be valued, but in the world of Sasuke, warped with scepticism, hatred and distance that made two people in the same room feel like as if they were a million miles away—it was futile.

Sakura hoped that this fresh new start would be one long-lasting.

Being the observant person he was, Sasuke noticed this change in a little more than a second.

He had gotten so used to Sakura's mannerisms and nature towards him that a slight alternation would be blatant.

First: when she had walked up towards him on the ceremonious Team 7 bridge, she didn't spare a glance at him. At all.

Second: her beaming, blinding smile that would normally put the sun to shame—even that of Konoha—was nowhere to be seen. Strange. Had she suffered through a tough night? he couldn't help to have thought. Did she think she failed on another patient again?

Third: she leaned against the bridge adjacent to him, but she didn't utter a word. No 'good morning Sasuke-kun.' No flicker of consideration. No hiding of a bashful blush.

Maybe it was just a temporary thing. He was sure she would be over it tomorrow.

Sasuke ignored the unfamiliar sting that rose up his chest, however, when Naruto appeared and she embraced him like any other day.

Surely enough, it continued for the rest of the week.

Sasuke would never admit that he started counting the days.

When he returned to Konoha, he maintained his detached persona, casual irritation towards Naruto and silence towards Sakura. Nonetheless, he wasn't as temperamental and he had grown more tolerant and... compassionate over the years.

He believed he could give himself that, at least. He didn't show so much rejection to Naruto's ramen invitations and had offered to pay for the meal, sometimes. He was always willing to train with Kakashi a few times a week and he bothered to show acceptance to that annoying replacement.

But Sakura... he would confess, he was quite the same with her. Out of all of the relationships Sasuke shared with others, theirs had the slowest, most dragging progress. Then again, he could say that he didn't think he needed to do much. Sakura hadn't changed, and he decided he could keep his high status in her life without any struggle.

Until now.

Thirty-four days was the number when Sasuke decided he had enough.

One mission was enough to push him to the edge when Sakura started treating him patronizingly, as if she was the teacher and he was the student. She didn't seem that eager to work with him either—it was more an action of leading him along and having the two of them perform separate roles, rather than integration.

After the mission, Sasuke assumed that Sakura would have locked herself back at her home, probably spending time healing herself for the injuries of the mission. It wouldn't be long until she went to sleep.

He was in no situation to be taking his time, so he merely teleported to her door and knocked at a polite, unhurried pace. He fixed on his emotionless and hopefully fathomless mask, awaiting her arrival. She did no less than five seconds later, her hair rustled and already wearing her night gown. Her expression was tired and she didn't seem like the mood to deal with anything... but Hell, he wasn't either.

"Can I come in?" Sasuke asked quietly, calmly gazing into her emerald eyes. She was silent for a moment before yawning and motioning him into her house.

As per usual and perhaps just in social etiquette, she made a coffee for him and a tea for herself. They set themselves on her living room lounge, seated opposite of each other. Sakura quietly sipped at her tea, staring at the ground, while Sasuke made no effort to touch his coffee. He continued to look at her, pondering.

She sighed after a few minutes of nothing said. She didn't want to do this again. "What are you here for, Sasuke?"

The absence of the -kun. Of course. She lifted her eyes to return his gaze.

He shrugged. "You've been... ignoring me." His tone dropped a notch.

Her eyes lit with innocence. "Oh, have I?" She placed her tea on the wooden table, holding her hands together afterwards. "You're a comrade of mine, Sasuke. I have been treating you with acceptable pleasantness, I would like to believe."

Acceptable? Sasuke nearly scoffed. But, he didn't know what would be acceptable. Perhaps not the Sakura in front of him right now.

"I see," was all he said.

Sakura rolled her eyes at the boy. Why was he here again? She stood up, walking towards the kitchen basin and disposing of her teacup. She turned back towards him, leaning against the metal surface of the basin.

She made sure that her voice sounded steady and soothing. "Look, Sasuke, if you've got nothing else to say, I'd appreciate if you'd—"

Her sentence was broken by said person standing up robotically, as if he were pulling all this weight up with him. Sakura was startled, to say the least, when the Uchiha's heavy eyes landed upon her, almost... drooping.

His onyx orbs said nothing more than I'm not leaving until I'm done.

She was defenceless as his steps approached closer, the thumping of her chest unable to be denied.

She saw him bite his lip as his jaws caged, the prominence of his facial structure only emphasising whatever internal conflict he was enduring. He appeared to be battling with himself, not knowing quite what to say, but she hadn't seen this vulnerability in him for a long time.

It almost made Sakura want to let down her guard and wrap her arms around him, never wanting to let go. But she held back, clenching her fists to her sides.

Sasuke drew a breath. "Whatever it is that I did," he said, drawing out each word pronouncedly while seeping a hand through his jet-black hair, "I'm sorry."

If Sakura had knew any better, she would've taken that apology for everything that he had ever done, because he didn't know what he was apologising for. He could be accounting for everything. Then again, he could also be attempting to save their relationship, no matter how much she pushed towards consistency. Needless to say, his apology was just about as vague as his expressions of gratitude.

However, it was still an apology. An apology that rocked her to the core and shuddered earthquakes up her spine.

He gave her one last parting look, the intensity of his eyes almost unbearable, before exiting her house.

She should've known that Sasuke would do this to her, she thought miserably, crumbling onto the cold and hard kitchen floor.

The next time he saw her, eleven days later, she was with another man.

The burning inside of his chest was nothing compared to the disappointment that fell onto him when he realised she didn't take his apology to heart at all.

She had just thrown it to the back of her mind and was done with it.

He felt like shrivelling into pieces when she took Neji into a too-close-for-comfort hug.

He ran far, far away from the village centre before allowing himself to erupt in negative emotion.

An hour later, he left the forest with trees burnt all around him, trunks cracked and branches broken by his own lightning.

He was erased of all chakra, but that wasn't the one aspect that made him feel as empty as he did now.

Fifty-seven days later, they are in a relationship.

Sasuke is still counting the days.

Waiting for her to come back to him.

A hundred and twenty-six days afterwards, she doesn't.

He watches as they share the kisses that break his heart.

The apology still vibrates in his head. He thought that had been enough. Hadn't it been enough?

He never wanted to lose her. He never wanted them to collapse apart. He never wanted her to be with someone else.

He wouldn't mind being alone, as long as she wasn't taken. As long as she was available.

Sasuke was furious. Couldn't she have waited for him? He wasn't ready, darn it.

But he knew she did. She did wait for him. And maybe he would never be ready.

She just stopped.

"Sasuke..."

Two hundred and forty-nine days since Sakura's first morning of change, Naruto approaches him.

He sits next to him. Sasuke is in the Uchiha estate, brooding as he has in the past two hundred and forty-nine days and probably for more to come.

Naruto feels like drawing his long-lost brother into an embrace, but he knows he can't. He knows this is of Sasuke's faults and that he has to learn.

"I'm only going to say this once, so you better listen." Sasuke shows no sign that he is listening, however the blonde knows that he is. The Uzumaki braces a hand on the Uchiha's shoulder and gives a reassuring smile. He catches Sasuke's eyes shooting sidewards at him.

Naruto scratches his head sheepishly with his other hand, uncomfortable by the discussion. "You know... Sakura-chan has never stopped waiting for you." Ah, there it is, Naruto thinks proudly as Sasuke's head twitches at the mention. "She has just stopped trying. But... just because she stopped trying doesn't mean she's not waiting. Maybe she's just waiting for you to try."

He pats Sasuke's shoulder awkwardly in some form of solace. "I know you've tried in your own little subtle way, but man, it's Sakura-chan. She's blind to these things. In her eyes she's given so much and you've given nothing. I don't think she's selfish. I think she's told herself so many times that she will get nothing from you, and when you give something to her, she doesn't realise it. Sasuke, I don't want to have to say this, but you have to do something huge."

Sasuke looked at him, suddenly showing interest. "What do you suggest?" He asked carefully, scrutinizing his best friend.

Naruto couldn't help but to laugh. "Isn't it obvious? Just show her what made her fall in love with you in the first place—whatever that was. I never understood."

Sasuke's eyes narrowed as he hit Naruto on the head, muttering a low "dobe," though he was more grateful for the idiot than he would ever know.

When Naruto's intervention concluded, Sasuke shoved his hands in his pockets, getting ready to leave.

"Hey—Sasuke. Remember, you don't have all the time in the world." Sasuke looked carelessly over his shoulder, as if that was a give in, before walking away.

It was only when Naruto called after Sasuke did the Uchiha stop in his tracks. "After all, it's been two hundred and forty-nine days, hasn't it?"

This time, Sasuke let a smile spread onto his lips. He had been counting, too. He had been waiting for them to be together.

He wasn't alone.

At day three hundred, Sasuke makes his decision.

He doesn't know what fuels him to act so impulsively and grab Sakura from Neji in front of a crowd at Ino's birthday party, but he just does.

The action doesn't fail to cause chaos, and Ino starts screaming so hard that it pierces his ears. God, he couldn't even make out what she was saying, but it was something along the lines of him being an idiot.

Naruto is in the background somewhere as he pulls Sakura away from Neji, and his smile shines brighter than the disco ball above. Kakashi stops reading his book but he manages a knowing smile himself, the curve of it appearing against his mask. Everyone else, however, is too surprised.

Apart from Neji. He stands motionless, but controlled. It was as if he expected this to happen. He doesn't make any effort to stop Sasuke.

"Ne-Neji—kun! What are you DOING!" Sakura screeches obnoxiously as she attempts to struggle against Sasuke's grasp.

The Hyuuga's expression is almost smug as he crosses his arms. "Letting you go."

The three words astound the crowd into silence. Even Sasuke stops with his movements. Sakura seems to dismantle in his arms and deflate, threatening to fall to the ground. He witnesses her expression morph into one that is crestfallen, and if this were any other situation, he would be battering Neji to death right now—but he is letting her go.

Sakura trembles. "W-What?"

Neji smirks. The watching eyes go back and forth between the two. Sasuke drifts back into the distance, watching every reaction. "I said, I'm letting you go..." he murmured, as smooth as silk until he does something akin to counting numbers on fingers. He turns to look at Sasuke and his smirk softens. Softens. What?

"...though, I would believe I've been letting you go for a little under three hundred days now." Everything inside of Sasuke halts.

Sakura is on the edge of tears. "What are you talking about?"

"I never really had you, Sakura—" he replies, pausing, trying to formulate the correct words. "—because he always has."

For Sasuke's hold on Sakura not tightening, she would have cracked apart. But the warmth spreading from his skin onto hers makes her forget about all the mistakes and all of the memories she made with Neji, because abruptly, it doesn't matter. She looks at Sasuke who appears helpless for the first time of his life and as Neji's eyes and hair and face and body mould into Sasuke's as it has for the thousandth time since the beginning of her and Neji's relationship, she knows she can't give up on him.

The tears trickle from her eyelids as Sasuke pulls himself together and continues to drag her out of the party venue. Her heels clatter against the cement ground and he storms forward with a speed unbelievable and the moon blazes onto the both of them, but it's okay, everything's okay.

Because Sasuke has her.

Despite the lightness she feels as he directs her into the Uchiha estate, she chooses to struggle against herself.

She doesn't want to do this anymore. She doesn't want to do this anymore.

Sakura has always been good at denial. Especially when she's spent nearly a year being stubborn about a certain idea.

The idea that she doesn't want Sasuke anymore, and that she can be happy—he can be happy without her.

When he sets her down onto the couch and sits opposite of her, mirroring the instance when he apologised but she never really believed, she says just what she thinks. Thinks. Not feels.

"I don't want to love you anymore." I don't. I don't. I don't. Idon'tIdon'tIdon't—

He stares at her. Her breath gets caught in her throat. Don't look at me like that.

"Okay." He says coolly, though she's well aware he's nowhere near accepting. His word is merely a push towards her continuing.

She looks to the ground and clenches her fists, a mannerism that the both of them know she has adapted to herself to control her tears, her anger and her melancholy—bottled all into one. "I don't want to love you anymore. Because... I just don't. You hurt me too much. And I want to be happy. With someone else."

Because you've made it so blatantly clear that you want to be alone, she thinks of saying, but stops. That'd be too brash. What did she really know about Sasuke, anyway? This entire night had astounded her with his every move.

His reply is soft and strangled and she suddenly feels like chains are wrapping around her body, being dragged under the depths of the ocean and forced to drown.

"You were never meant to be with anyone else." He stares at her with a look so sincere of smouldering flames that she has to instead grasp the arm of the chair to steady herself. She was getting swollen whole. She had to protect herself.

She slipped on the cold mask she had learnt to do so ever since Sasuke's defection. "That's not even the point, Sasuke. The point is that I'm ready to move on. I want to move on. I want to let go of you. I want to forget about you." Sakura was surprised how easily the lies slipped through her mouth.

But that would never compare to the shock she was induced with by his next action.

He smiled.

Smiled.

And God, was it painful.

The smile was agonizing.

Sakura had thought that because this was most likely one of the first times Sasuke had smiled ever since the Uchiha Massacre, the smile was deemed to be an uncomfortable sight. But she knew that wasn't the real reason.

The fact was, he really couldn't do anything but smile right now, even if there was nothing to smile about.

His smile was minuscule and effortless, gracing onto his thin lips smoothly, but gripping down the rest of his expression and pouring with negative emotions at the same time. All the emotions fluttered by: regret, sadness, anger, jealousy... he looked like he was being destroyed, pulled piece by piece, in front of her very eyes.

He was burning.

The words he spoke were strategically made to sound like he was hollow and nonchalant, but she knew better. He sounded dead. "I could never let you go."

A tear escaped from her right eye, betraying her façade, but speaking a thousand truths. "You don't know that. You can't promise that."

He leaned forward. He smelled like a rush of fresh air, rushing through her veins and intoxicating her. "I can, and I will."

On day three hundred, he captures her lips and within the bliss, he realises he's probably loved her all along.

Sakura clings to him and is melted by the softness of their kiss.

She feels like she's fallen into the lightest conglomeration of feathers but at the same time, he is lifting her up to the skies.

She comes to the revelation that she couldn't have possibly wanted anything than what she was given now.

Sakura keeps waiting, and Sasuke keeps trying, because there'll always be more for him to give and more for her to receive.

Twenty-four days later, when Sasuke visits Naruto in his home and decides to take a look in the blonde's bedroom, he spots an odd thing.

A calender.

On one specific day, there is a circle of red. Coincidentally, it happened to be the same day that he finally came to senses with Sakura.

Sasuke turns around the second he feels Naruto's presence in the room. His glance is more than questioning, but Naruto's answering gaze is all-knowing.

He hums smoothly as he joins Sasuke, the both of them looking at the calender. The Uzumaki grins. "We figured a year would be too mean."

"We?" Sasuke nearly-hisses, though he can't find it in himself to be whole-heartedly angry.

Naruto laughs and pats Sasuke on the shoulder teasingly. "Why, Sasuke, I thought you would've known that Neji was more than glad to see you suffer for three hundred days."

Sasuke freezes up. "Excuse me?"

Naruto can't help but to laugh again. "Don't worry, man, it wasn't like his Tentenbeing his girlfriendgot a kick out of it, either."

It takes more than a minute for Sasuke to understand that the past three hundred days were a rather (he must admit, even as an Uchiha) intelligent plan, but by the time he comprehends, his best friend is already claiming an early runaway by the stairs.

For once, though, the Uzumaki miscalculates.

Instead of wanting to murder the blonde, Sasuke figures he owes him ramen.


um.

I don't even know. Honestly. I just wrote this. And I wrote more and I wrote more. It just came out, I guess, and I wanted to finish it off. Probably because I've been busy writing all over the place for the second between life and death.

I'll probably actually come back to edit this one because I really don't like it. But, hopefully, everything was revealed at the end that the whole thing was just a plot to get Sasuke and Sakura togetherthough I actually realised that was a bit cruel, however, just to add as a little twistas well as the whole knotted-together closeness feeling of everybody, apart from Sakura of course, counting the days. I thought that was nice.

I love Konoha!love. :)