Characters: Sasuke, AU!Sakura
Note: This is an AU based on the "Road to Sakura" episode.
Prompts: Stolen from SasuSaku Month
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto


i. younger

Sakura sees her parents and runs and runs and runs until her feet throb and her thighs burn and she can't breathe. The sun was setting when she ran through Konoha's gates despite Ino's attempts to catch up to her, but now, as she finally lurches forward and falls to her knees, the moon is shining brightly. She holds herself up with her palms flat on the ground. She closes her eyes for a moment and immediately regrets that decision as her memoires return to her in a sudden rush.

It all comes to her like a movie.

She sees herself, just six-years-old with nothing but skin and bones to her structure and bangs so long they nearly covered her eyes. She remembers her father, tall and proud and mighty, leaning forward ever so slightly to put his cherry blossom pendant around her neck before going off to his last battle. She remembers sitting in an empty house and how its silence, oddly enough, was what got in the way of her studying for her Academy exams. She remembers the few fights she used to get in with a long-haired Hyuuga girl and that there was a little blondee girl that she would push to speak up for herself. There's the Uchiha boy gracing her with a flower on their first day assigned to the same genin cell with that ridiculous Kakashi-sensei. There's a boy with marks on his face pretending to be a kitten and another classmate who barely remembered enough to graduate.

When she opens her eyes once again, her arms lose their strength and she falls to the floor. Sakura turns onto her side and curls up. Her hands creep up to her head as she claws at her scalp and pulls at her hair, begging the throbbing in her skull to just stop.

She's in so much pain as she struggles with the onslaught of memories that she reacts belatedly to the sound of someone walking towards her.

But no matter the situation, Sakura is still a ninja. She tries to reach for a kunai but before she can grab it, her would-be attacker's foot is on her wrist – not to crush, but certainly to keep her down. She moves to kick or punch or do something, but before any action can take place, she makes the mistake of looking into his blood red eyes.


ii. conversation

"You look familiar."

He doesn't answer her, much to Sakura's annoyance. Despite the rush of particular flashbacks from earlier parts of her life, the names and the personalities attached to all the faces fly in and out of her head. The boy with the once-red eyes is no different. She can recall his face in her memories and feels something akin to annoyance in association with him.

"You're… Sasuke," she says. In the past two days she's been in his company, Sakura's found that she mostly talks to herself. Her companion doesn't spare her many words – not even an explanation as to why he's making her stay with him. "That's your name, right?"

He looks at her. "You have amnesia."

Sakura purses her lips to keep from outright scowling. It's not quite an answer, but at least he's talking. "Apparently. But whatever I do remember – or well, think I remember… none of that matches what people here are actually like. Or well, that's how it was when I was in Konoha." She lets herself go and her frustration shows itself on her face. "Everything in Konoha felt wrong." She shakes her head before pointing at him accusingly. "Even here, everything feels wrong! I know with you I feel comfortable if not a bit annoyed but you're…" Sakura sighs. She looks down at her hands in her lap. "You're not matching up either."

"And what should I be like?"

"A playboy."

The look of utter surprise on his face almost makes her laugh.

"But I'm wrong," Sakura says with a shrug. "Again." She tosses a new piece of wood into their slow-burning fire. "You're very quiet, Sasuke." She uses the name confidently, figuring that if he doesn't tell her otherwise, than that name is his. She recalls a much different Sasuke, however. One with a smile always pulling at his lips and cheer in his eyes. Sakura sighs in frustration for umpteenth time since Ino found her in the forest. "You're nothing like the boy I remember."

"Then maybe I'm not him."


iii. options

He never explains things to her. Rather, Sakura comes to most conclusions on her own, voices them as possibilities, and gauges whether or not she's right based on the intensity of Sasuke's glare. If he looks at her like she's touched a nerve, Sakura knows that yes, Sasuke is no longer a Konoha ninja contrary to the boy in her memories trotting about the village streets, and when his scowl darkens, she understands that no, the Akatsuki is no longer being led by the boy with the long hair and the kind eyes that her father introduced her to when she was very young – what was his name? 'Itachi-san,' I think?

But one thing that Sakura cannot understand is why Sasuke keeps her with him.

When she first woke up in his company a few feet away from his seated form, she was startled. His name tumbled past her lips without her having to think about it. He only regarded her silently, trying to predict her moves but even Sakura couldn't do that. She sat up and stared at him, wondering why he wasn't smiling. In her memories, that particular face rarely ever frowns.

"Why am I here?" she had asked, only to be met with silence. He tossed some rations her way and told her they would be moving in twenty minutes and their relationship remained that way for days. Sakura would stare at Sasuke curiously and confusedly and ask questions he wouldn't answer and Sasuke would tell her when to stop and went to go and for whatever reason, she would listen.

Something about him makes her feel comfortable. When she was in Konoha, even with Ino, who was doing everything she could to help her recover her memories, Sakura felt disquieted. But here, listening to this man lead her, Sakura feels safe.

Still, she is curious.

"Why am I here?" she asks again.

This is their fifth night together and Sakura has no idea where Sasuke is leading her. Part of her wonders about the happenings of Konoha. Is Tsunade looking for her? Is Ino scared? Are her parents concerned? She feels guilty for leaving them but knows that she'd feel worse if she had stayed with them as a shattered shadow of a girl they all seem to know so well. But Sasuke doesn't seem to care. She knows Sasuke knows her or knew her or something to indicate some sort of a bond between the two of them. He's different, however. While Ino looked at her with pity and with frustration in her eyes over Sakura's lack of recognition, Sasuke regards her as a separate person from the girl with her face that lingers in his memory.

"Sasuke?" she calls out. He stops sharpening his blade to stare at her coolly. When no answer comes forth, Sakura feels her annoyance bubble. "Why am I here, Sasuke? Why are you keeping me with you?"

He's a missing-nin, she's deduced, and from the Bingo Book she had stolen from a man she'd taken down the other day, Uchiha Sasuke is particularly dangerous.

Sakura feels her confidence waver under his scrutiny. "You're nothing like the Sasuke in my memories," she says, sounding almost a bit sad much to her confusion. "And…" Sakura pauses, wondering if this particular theory is one that she should keep to herself. "Does that mean that I'm not the Sakura that you know?"

Finally, he smiles, looking very much like the boy she remembers but so, so different because this grin is bitter and solemn, unlike the gleeful ones she can recall. But Sakura understands why. It's because he isn't the boy in her mind. He's another boy from another world just as she is to him. She gets it.

Sakura doesn't belong here.

"Congratulations," he says blandly. "You've figured it out. I suppose you've done well for a girl with an odd case of amnesia."

Sakura frowns at his condescending tone. "Why am I here with you, Sasuke?"

"You can't figure that part out on your own?" he asks. When she doesn't reply and simply stares at him, Sasuke rolls his eyes. "I need to send you back to your world. Madara is a fool. Sending the idiot and Sakura to that other dimension screwed things up."

The last bits come out mostly as afterthoughts, Sakura deduces, judging by the way Sasuke runs a hang through his bangs in frustration and says them mostly to the fire than to her.

"Do you…" Sakura wonders if her next question will hit a nerve but decides to go with it anyway. "Do you miss them? Is that why you're helping me—"

The idea of missing them sparks something in him and he moves to grab her by the collar of her shirt in a threatening manner but this particular Sakura suffers no post-traumatic stress from the time he almost choked her and doesn't freeze up at his approaching hand. Rather, she grabs his wrist almost mechanically and twists it. He gets out of her hold and Sakura moves to kick him but both seem to realize how stupid they're being and let go and move away from each other before a real tussle can take place.

"The Kyuubi is within Naruto," Sasuke finally says, acting as if Sakura should know who this Naruto person is and as though those words are enough to explain everything.

Sakura nods once. "I see," she replies, although the truth is that she doesn't. What is that supposed to mean?

"I will help you get home, but know that I'm not doing it for you."

"Is that so?" His behaviour sparks something within her and Sakura glares back at him defiantly, having had enough of his dominating ways. While it may have made her feel content earlier, all it does now is irritate her. "And what if I don't want to go back?" she asks mostly to spite him.

"You have no other choice."

"Oh?" Sakura smiles at him mockingly. "Why? Do you miss your other Sakura?"

Sasuke sneers at her before stomping away from their campsite.


tbc