note: for sasusaku month
prompt: shadows

Sasuke only sees her in the dark.

In the light, she shines. Sakura takes down anyone and anything in her way. She hits and she heals and she shows no weakness—not in front of him, at least. Around him, Sakura is stone. Sakura doesn't laugh, doesn't cry, doesn't smile. Around him, Sakura barely speaks. But she's civil. He's smart enough to know she does it for Naruto's sake. He's smart enough to know she only does it to restore some sense of normality for idealistic little Naruto. She's not mean though. She doesn't try to put him down or insult him or taunt him. She's just there. During training, she's helps him with her constructive criticism and heals him with her calming chakra. On missions, more often than not she's put in the leadership position. There, she's efficient and smart and careful. He doesn't miss it, however, when she stiffens or freezes up or the way her breathing starts to labour when he gets too close. It lasts for only a few seconds but he always sees the way he affects her.

He's not particularly sure how he feels about her behaviour.

No, that's untrue. He knows. He hates it, but he refuses to accept his own feelings. He knows he should be happy for her—proud of her. Now, now Haruno Sakura is a true shinobi. She's strong and she's skilled. He can't help but miss the lovelorn girl she used to be though, something that drives him crazy because he shouldn't miss her. He can't help but hate the distance between them and he can't help but hate himself for making that wedge.

Around Sakura, Sasuke isn't Sasuke, and around Sasuke, Sakura isn't Sakura.

The first time they fuck is four months after Sasuke's reinstatement as a Konoha ninja.

It's just the two of them, much to Sasuke's discomfort. Kakashi assigns the pair of them and Sasuke scowls at the feel of his former sensei's scrutiny. The old man clearly isn't sure if sending them together is a good idea, but it works. They complement each other disturbingly well. They get the job done and when they arrive back in the village, Sakura smiles at him coyly, a face he's never seen on her in the past. They stand outside her apartment and she asks: "Come up with me?" The words come out like a question.

He's too shocked to decline.

That night Sasuke finally gets to see her. That night, with Sakura spread out before him at her most vulnerable point, he thinks that maybe, just maybe, they have a chance. Maybe they could be together.

Maybe they could be happy.

He runs his hands along her creamy skin, fingers catching on every raised scar. He memorizes every detail—where to touch to make her squirm, to make her moan, to make her bite her lip to hold back a cry as she scratches him, not knowing what she's doing because she's too caught up in her pleasure. Sasuke worships every inch of her body with his hands and his mouth and his cock. When she finishes and falls back down from her peak, she holds him to her, her small hands on his shoulder blades.

She tries to keep him right there on top of her and Sasuke makes no move to get away. Instead, he buries his face in the crook of her neck and inhales. The room smells like sweat and sex and he wouldn't have it any other way. In that moment, in that high after sex, Sasuke thinks that maybe they could be okay again. With time, they'd get better. They had to. He kisses the soft skin and they fall asleep in each other's arms.

He only wakes when she stops breathing.

It becomes a recurring thing.

They fuck, they sleep, and then she has a nightmare. Sasuke wants to do something aside from send a small jolt of electric chakra her way to wake her from her dreams but he's scared of what she'll do if she sees his face right after her dream. He certainly knows what she dreams of when she starts kicking (enough to make him get off of her for his own sake). She starts to claw at her neck and some unseen entity above her as she heaves for air, the monster in her mind keeping her from breathing.

This time, Sasuke can't take it. He's spent three months only watching from the shadows as she fights her demons—or, to be technical, just "demon" considering there's only one person plaguing her. When her sudden kick wakes him and her hands are drawn up, slapping at arms that aren't really there, Sasuke leans over and shakes her.


He repeats her name five times.

Her eyes shoot open when he shocks her a little and he has never seen so much fear on someone's face. She sees the hands on her shoulders and panics, still caught up in her nightmare. She freezes and, even though she's awake, she's still not breathing.


Then she starts.

She grabs his wrists and only lets go when she successfully pushes him off of her. She rolls away, taking the sheets with her and stands at the other side of the bed. Slowly, she backs up until she hits the wall. The entire time she watches him, ready to pounce.

Sasuke makes no sudden movements. "Sakura?" he whispers. He sounds desperate and pleading. He quietly calls her name once again and she slowly loosens up. She stands upright, moving out of her defensive stance, but one hand stays at her neck, defending it.

"I thought," she begins, her voice ragged, "I thought that…" She scowls and looks away. "Nevermind."

"No." Sasuke walks around the bed and tries not to react to the way her body stiffens ever so slightly by his approach. "You were dreaming of that day, weren't you?"


"At the bridge."

"I said stop!"

"You were dreaming of me choking you and woke up to—"

"STOP!" Sakura lashes out and hits his chest. Her fists are tiny and ineffectual with the way she's raggedly flailing about, hitting him for the sake of hitting him. "Just stop. I don't need to hear this bullshit!"

Sasuke knows what she's thinking about (remembering) when her punches grow even weaker and her shoulders start to shake. He hears her sniffle and from the sliver of moonlight that hits her, he sees the tears streaming down her cheeks. When she stops altogether and just bows her head and breaths choppily, struggling to get a reign on her feelings, Sasuke grabs her. He wraps his arms around her and holds her tightly, refusing to let her push away despite her struggling. Eventually, she relents and they fall to the floor, Sakura gathered in his arms, not-crying against his chest.

I'm sorry, he tries to tell her. I'm so sorry. But the words don't come out. There's too much between them at this point and Sasuke wonders if trying to be something at all is even a good idea. Not when she's half-terrified of him and he can only open up to her when they fuck.

Time wasn't healing, but hidden in the shadows, Sasuke sincerely hoped it would.