How long has it been since I ever uttered the words?

Konoha is back to normal. I guess it was the same after I left, but after nearly four years of being identified as a rouge ninja, always on the run –the Konoha I had known had become a forgotten memory. It turned from a place with many friends; to a place I left for power but secretly yearned for, to an annoying place with people who wanted the old me, to a corrupt government and all of its followers, to a place that would never accept me again, and then back to the same old Konoha.

Konoha never changed to someone like Naruto, I suppose. Always somewhere where he could return to, always somewhere where he knew people were counting on him, and he was counting on them, as well. The light of this place never changed in his eyes, but then again, his light hadn't faded away like mine had.

Actually, to be honest, I didn't think I would ever see Konoha the same way again. I always thought to myself that even if I came back, I would never forget Itachi, and the sacrifices he made for me and this village. I won't, but I can see now why he did it - all of it.

It's a magical place. Not to be corny, but this place is weird. It's kind of like sorcery, or one of Orochimaru's forbidden jutsus. It changes you and makes you feel welcome. Everyone is kind, and I think almost everyone's forgiven me. It was probably because of the way Naruto follows around me, and as annoying as that is, I like it. Because it's been awhile since someone wanted to hang out with Sasuke – not the last Uchiha – just because they could.

So the people of Konoha have gone from paranoid, to looking me over the shoulder, and finally, treating me like I was one of their own -or, at least, the majority of the population.

There's still one person – one girl – who won't look me in the eye; no matter how many times Naruto drags us to Ramen, or how many times I've tried to patch up the bonds I had tried to sever years ago.

And that girl's name is Sakura – Haruno Sakura.

On my way back, I figured that even though it was going to be tough, I wanted to gain everyone's friendship again. I knew it would take a while, and I knew the suffering I might have to endure, but I was sure there were three people I could trust. Of course, there was Naruto, Kakashi, and lastly, Sakura; my old teammates.

Naruto, of course, was just happy I was back in the village of my own will. Kakashi took some time, but he warmed up in the first couple of weeks, but hit me the second after and said if I did it again – or thought of doing it again – then he'd bring Madara back to life and watch everything unfold. I was sure Sakura had already forgiven me, but it took time for me to realize she wasn't the same.

At first, I thought it was just the years that had passed. Everyone changes eventually, and I knew Sakura wasn't the same little girl I had left behind. She grew up, and I thought this strange silence of hers was just the way she acted nowadays when she wasn't crying on the battlefield.

But then Naruto was asking her questions – if she was feeling alright, if she was okay, but she would always smile and turn back to whatever it was we were doing, like nothing had happened. The fifth time he asked her that, she glanced in my direction, not looking me in the eye, and turned away.

She was still angry.

How could she not be? The – apparently – love of her life left her on a bench, unconscious, right after she had confessed her innermost thoughts and feelings. All I could say then was thank you, because I was.

When my family died, I thought I was lost in a black, dead, dark forest. I had never cried that hard in my life. All I could think of was how lonely it was, and how no one understood my pain and suffering. I went home every night hearing my mother's laughter, but… when I walked into the kitchen, no one was there. I could see my father reading the paper, and my brother smiling at me. Cousin Shisui would brag about his latest missions to me; but while that was all happening, I was sitting alone with a TV dinner in the dark, trying to pretend they were really there and it wasn't my imagination; even though it was the cold, raw truth.

When I first joined Team Seven, things became different. I was pressured to hang out with people I didn't want to, because in the Academy, I could walk away. But in the ninja world you had to work on bonds, building bonds, and before I knew it, I had a bond with them. For the first time in my life since the massacre, I was happy. Alright, maybe I was still focused on revenge; but for the first time in a long time, someone was accepting me.

Naruto's and Sakura's annoyances were a bother to me, really, they were. But deep inside I liked their company, and didn't mind when they fought at my side. Those memories were some things that I always treasured, even if I said the bonds were gone.

That night I left, when I said thank you, it was for those memories. For someone caring about me when I left, because that was a childhood fear of mine – that no one would care if I just up and left. But someone tried to stop me, thinking the better for me, and it almost made me stay.

It seemed revenge had been a greater emotion, that day. I would never forget how much I hurt them, and I don't think either of them would, either.

It seems Sakura hadn't forgotten, and even though she strived to bring me home… home… I don't think it was really all for me after a certain time. It was more for Naruto's sake then my own, I'm sure.

I know she wants an apology.

But how long has it been since I uttered the words?

The day I decided I would return, when Naruto's Rasengan and my own Chidori collided for the last time, sealing Madara's fate, we had both fallen side by side, staring at each other. We were exhausted, Madara was gone, and a light from above in the sky was shining down on us. All we could do was look at each other, and before I had realized it, our middle and index fingers were wrapped up together, and he had smiled at me.

…And for the first time in four years, I did too.

An apology didn't need to be said. With our history, nothing needed to be said at all. I guess a person like Naruto is good at reading people, and knew what I wanted to say even though I hadn't said it at all.

Maybe I just needed a lack in pride, because to apologize for what happened years ago to her now, that would take a lot of humility. A trait I never seemed to have.

I wish she could be like Naruto, to just say forgive and forget, and know that I was sorry. Because after all that has happened, all that I've been through, I can't stand up to her and say it. It's something about her and the way she looks at me, because I know it will take a lot for her to trust me again - to even look at me without trying to find an excuse not to.

I'm sorry, Sakura.

Konoha will never change again. But the look in her eyes has, and even though I'll never love her like the way she loves me, I would always like to have her as a teammate back.

I'm sorry I can't tell you how sorry I am.


This was my first – and last – attempt at a SasuSaku. My sister absolutely adores the couple, and I made this for her since my ShikaTema was a failure. I just can't stand Sakura's emotions toward Sasuke. So this is more of a friendship and regret thing, but you can take it as a romance if you like. The idea just came to be, so constructive criticism is advised. But no flamers please.

I hope you enjoyed! Please R&R!