The day Sakura first questioned whether Sasuke was really Sasuke was the day he first started initiating physical contact with her.
It started when they were sitting in a briefing room, waiting for their ANBU squad leader to arrive. There were desk-chairs such as the ones found in the academy all haphazardly strewn across the room in no particular order. Sakura was sitting at one such desk, Naruto was in front of her, turned around so he could look at his teammates and Sasuke was to her left. Other ninja, Hinata, Neji, Tenten, Kiba, were around too, each participating in Team 7's or their own conversation.
Sakura was listening as Naruto related a tall tale of one of his easy-missions-gone-wrong. She was just noticing that Hinata was smiling a lot, was relaxed and actually enjoying herself when there was a slight tugging at her left wrist. Curious, she looked over at Sasuke.
He was leaning back in his desk, but it was close enough to her own that he was within easy arm's-reach. Sakura knew this because his arm was extended toward hers. Her green eyes silently followed the length of his lean arm as her breathing slowed (a natural ninja instinct when observing something unknown). Her gaze came to rest on her friendship bracelet fastened round her left wrist. It was one given to her by Hinata who bought a few similar ones for her and other friends at one of the festivals in the marketplace. It was long bracelet, thus she had extra thread, tassels hanging down.
The tassels that Sasuke was currently fiddling with. Sasuke's bored face was looking down at his hands as his fingers played with the bracelet. He wasn't even discreet about it; he just… was doing it. Sakura didn't move for fear of discouraging him or coming across as offended. Besides, the tickling feelings in her chest wouldn't allow her to move.
Naruto addressed Sasuke who looked up and replied with a cheeky smirk. But his hand never left her bracelet. The pink-haired woman looked around casually to see if anyone else noticed. No one did. So she went back to the conversation and pretended she didn't see (or didn't mind) what Sasuke was doing.
Naruto was talking about one time how he saved a princess in the Land of Waves who was about to be assassinated in her room. He said it was from his instinct that he saved her in time. Sakura immediately interrupted him to set the story straight.
"Whoa, whoa now! That's not how it happened!" While she talked, the Uchiha then began twisting the bracelet around her wrist, looking at the whole pattern of the woven threads. "Don't you remember? You were trying to sneak into the kitchen through the air vents." His long fingers were slightly clumsy and his hand would often brush up against hers. "The ceiling collapsed under your weight,and you fell into the princess's room right on top of the assassins!"
Hinata giggled and looked at the blonde. "That is a bit different from what you first said, Naruto." Both of the girls laughed and Sasuke snorted in amusement.
Their conversation progressed and Sasuke did not once let go of her bracelet; not even when their squad leader came in a briefed them. It was very distracting, but Sakura couldn't deny that she had liked his gentle touch.
"So, Sasuke… You like Sakura?"
"Tch. What makes you say that, Naruto?"
"I saw you fiddling with her bracelet."
"I was bored. And it was there; her desk was practically on top of mine."
"Because you chose to sit in that desk, riiight?"
"Shut up, dobe."
"Haha, alright, Sasuke. But don't think I don't notice these things."
"Whatever you say, Naruto…"
The next time he initiated the contact was one of their team's first nights off from missions together.
Naruto came up with the idea of the three of them having a movie night. Sakura brought the candy (which she and Naruto swiftly consumed before the movie even started), Sasuke brought the popcorn and Naruto rented the Princess Gale movie they had watched on the mission so long ago to the Land of Snow.
Sakura and Sasuke were civilly sitting on the couch, waiting for the Uzamaki to finish popping the popcorn. Suddenly, their boisterous teammate flew out of nowhere and landed on top of Sakura, forcing her onto Sasuke and causing all of them to fall against the side of the couch. Sakura flung her legs on top of the coffee table to prevent herself from falling over completely.
"Naruto! What are you doing, you knucklehead!" she exclaimed. Sakura tried getting up, mostly because she was worried Sasuke would be uncomfortable. But with Naruto's weight on top of her, she couldn't get up without a push from behind and the strong young man behind her didn't seem like he was going to offer such a push.
"What, you not comfortable, Sakura?" the blonde ninja teased. Sakura huffed and crossed her arms. The boy laughed in triumph and began munching on the popcorn. The young woman pursed her lips in displeasure, only waiting for the embarrassing moment when Sasuke would shove her off and she'd have to deal with Naruto hanging all over her.
Only that moment didn't come. The Uchiha grabbed the remote and turned on the movie. Sakura's eyes widened in surprise. He doesn't care? Not only did he not care, he shocked her even further. He kicked off his sandals and propped his feet on top of hers. Sakura inhaled sharply at the sudden contact of his warm skin on her cold skin. Naruto laughed at the idea and imitated his teammates, creating a foot sandwich. Sakura smiled shyly to herself.
The movie started in a dark setting, with fog rising from the water as the camera zoomed in on a sea-side castle. Naruto was munching loudly on the popcorn, hogging the bowl all to himself.
"Hand the goods over, Uzamaki," Sakura whispered teasingly. She snatched the bowl from him and held it in her lap. The orange clad ninja still ate as much popcorn as before, but with the bowl in the middle, Sakura could have some too. Sasuke would occasionally dip his hand into the fluffy snack as well.
Half-way through, right at the preparation for the big battle, Sakura felt Naruto's weight shift away from her toward the armrest as he had finally dozed off. The Haruno smiled to herself when she saw the drooling boy with his arm dangling off the couch and his legs propped up against his chest in an odd angle.
Sasuke shifted beside her. His arms went up on the armrest to his right and the couch-back behind them. Sakura tried not to think about how close he was to her and focused her gaze on the screen. Right at the tender scene between Princess Gale and her romantic interest where he swore he'd always protect her, the young woman felt something tickling the back of her neck.
At first she dismissed it as a stray lock of hair. Then she sensed movement behind her head. Sakura shifted her position slightly, concentrating on what it could be, but when she moved, fingers brushed against her scalp. Sasuke is… playing with my hair?
He wasn't dissuaded by her discovery and continued fingering her soft locks. If anything, he was emboldened by her knowledge and actually ran his hand through the ends of her hair while they watched Princess Gale bestow her lover a kiss on the cheek. Sakura bit her lips, folding her hands in her lap and fiddling her thumbs together; anything to distract her from the feeling in her stomach (akin to the feeling she got from free-falling in the air).
After a bit the big fight scene began. Sakura almost leapt out of her skin when part of Sasuke's arm slid down from the couch-back and was lightly slung about her shoulders. She couldn't resist the desire to look at him and silently ask for an answer. All she could see of his face was what was lit up by the television. At best, she could see a small smirk playing at the corner of his lips, but that could be her imagination.
The petite woman looked back at the screen, then shifted her weight a little closer to him. If he is going to admit contact, I'm not going to sit uncomfortably stiff for the remainder of the movie; that's for sure.
The movie had about fifteen minutes left, she knew, but she couldn't keep her eyes open for very long. I'll just close my eyes for a few seconds, take the dryness away and then I'll feel better, she thought. Except, when she closed her eyes, they didn't open back up.
The beautiful woman fell asleep and slumped against the man who held her against his side. A smile was on his face when Princess Gale defeated the enemy and all was good again. The credits began rolling and soft music was playing.
Sasuke looked down at the top of her pink head. He rubbed his fingertips against her soft, soft hair. He bowed his head and breathed in her scent for a while. But it couldn't last; Sasuke knew they couldn't stay here all night.
He sighed and reached over the sleeping woman to shake Naruto awake. He awoke with a shout and swinging his fists. Sasuke winced.
"Dobe, it's me! You fell asleep during the movie. Now get up. It's time to go."
"What? Really?" the ramen-lover groaned. "I missed the ending again…"
"Oh, how sad," Sasuke said sarcastically. "Help me get her to her room."
It was then that Naruto noticed the position his two teammates were in; with Sakura huddled against Sasuke's side and his arm draped around her comfortably, their feet still propped on top of each other, he could tell they'd been that way for a while. A mischievous smile grew on his already minx-like face.
"Are you sure you want to get up? You two look pretty comfortable to me-"
"Dobe!" the Uchiha barked. "Get over here and help."
"Alright, alright, grumpy lover-boy."
"Hey," Naruto whispered as he gently pulled Sakura off of Sasuke so he could get up. "You didn't wait til I was asleep to pull a move on Sakura did you?"
Sasuke's silence when he scooped the limp woman into his arms wasn't exactly reassuring.
Naruto gasped, "You did, didn't you!?"
"I said shut it."
The third time he initiated it, they were on a mission to the Sound Village remnants.
It was only meant to be a mission retrieving Intel; get the research of Orochimaru's human experiments and what information he had on his former allies, the Leaf Village's enemies. But complications had arisen, Team 7 had been split up and now Sakura was in an enclosed space with a psycho animalist rock-man who was trying to kill her, with no escape route in sight.
The exhausted kunoichi's shoulders were slumped and her eyes barely were open from swelling. The mutated man had managed to land a blow, scratching her with his rock-like arm. Sakura was still berating herself for the rookie mistake. But things more important than silly mistakes were at hand and she couldn't afford to get distracted.
The mutant hadn't worn down until she stabbed one of his eyes out with a kunai. Now she could see he was as irritated by the drawn-out skirmish as she was. This was problematic. 'A cornered animal is the most dangerous', they always say, Sakura thought.
True to her assessment, the man began to charge. The bruised woman had no choice except to take the attack head-on. She braced herself and readied her kunai. Sakura prayed to God that He would help Sasuke, Naruto and Kakashi when she was gone – she knew she would die.
However, that wasn't what God had in store for her.
At the moment when she tensed, anticipating the slicing of her soft flesh and the flowing of her life-blood, there was a resounding explosion of crumbling rock, then the clang of metal against stone. Her bright green eyes flashed open in surprise. Before her was a sight she thought she'd never see again – Sasuke protecting her.
His sword was unsheathed, blocking the curse-marked man's attack; his left arm was reached behind him, holding onto her hand. Sakura looked up to the back of his spiky-haired head.
"Sasuke?" she asked, hardly believing it.
"Sakura, we need to get out of here," he said, straining against the bigger man. "The whole place is swarming with experiments just like him, all in the second stage of their curse-mark."
"What about Naruto and Kakashi?" she asked.
"Naruto and Kakashi have their hands full. They're waiting on us."
Sakura sighed deeply and nodded. "Okay. Let's go then."
Sasuke broke the man's arm that was locked with his katana and slashed the man across his chest. As the monster wailed and staggered back, Sasuke leapt into the air, tugging Sakura along with him. He gracefully twirled her around so she faced him and held her close around her waist. She gasped and looked up into his dark eyes. She hated to admit it, but she felt hope springing up in her heart again… after she'd tried so hard to quell it.
His smirk became playful, his gaze not leaving her face. She was beginning to get uncomfortable.
Sakura wrinkled her nose and averted her eyes. She knew for sure that her cheeks were dusted with a blush. "Like what you see?"
He chuckled. "I was just looking at your shiner."
"Be quiet," she pouted. "I got that in the line of duty."
They landed on a small outcropping and he launched off once again, soaring through the air. Sakura squeaked a bit and clung to him, afraid of falling. The rumbling in his chest could have been her imagination, or he could have been laughing.
"You look fine, Sakura."
She smiled into his shirt lightly.
When they arrived to where Kakashi and Naruto were, the two men had managed to maim their opponents. Sasuke landed in the rubble created from their battle with Sakura held firmly to his side.
"Are you two alright?" he asked.
"Yeah, only a few scratches," Naruto grinned.
"Are you sure, you guys are oka-?!" Sakura had gone to step towards her teammates, but Sasuke had given her a little tug backwards.
"We're fine," Kakashi reassured with a grin. "Let's just get the intelligence and leave this place."
"Right!" the hyper-active young man bellowed before dashing off. Their sensei chased after him, telling him to slow down and think before acting.
Sakura looked up at the Uchiha, silently questioning him if they were going to follow their friends. The handsome man was staring up at the sky, contemplating something. Sakura's stomach was aflutter, making her feel slightly uncomfortable, but she liked the tickling feeling too (Because of the implications of his actions?)…
Suddenly, he looked down and kissed the tip of her nose in one swift movement. Her indignant cry was lost in her terrified shriek as he gripped her about the waist again and leapt after their team.
"I almost lost her today, Naruto. If I hadn't been there to stop the blow, she could have…"
"…So are you going to ask her soon, Sasuke?"
"I don't know… would she say yes?"
"Sasuke, everyone can see how much she cares for you. She just needs a little encouraging."
"And I'd say you've given it!"
"No one asked your opinion, Kakashi."
"Oh-ho-ho, really? Don't think I didn't see the way you had your arm wrapped around her, like your favorite toy-"
"And that little kiss…"
"Hush up, Naruto!"
"No! You kissed her?!"
"Only on the nose and whose busines-"
"So you admit to it!"
"Don't worry, Sasuke. Just encourage her; hold her hand now and then, sling your arm across her shoulders, a kiss on the cheek if you're feeling bold, and she'll be aware of your intentions."
"…But will she accept them?"
"That's up to you, if you can win her heart again."
The next time he initiated contact (that is, more intimate contact than their previous contact such as holding her hand) it was on a lovely day in June.
Sakura was in a room with a floor-length mirror, left alone by her nosy female friends to prepare. She gently patted her hair arrangement, making sure all the pinned curls were in place. Once she was satisfied, she walked over to the mirror and gazed at her reflection. She was quite satisfied with her appearance, the lovely flowing creamy material, the sheer layer over it and the embroidered flowers.
Her makeup made her eyes look catlike or faery, her cheeks, angled and her skin, flawless. She looked beautiful. Ino had done a good job; so had Hinata and Tenten with her hair. She owed her friends so much, on this special day of hers.
She was startled out of her reverie by the sound of knocking on her window. Picking up her voluminous skirts, she skittered over and swung open the glass panel.
"Hello?" she asked hesitantly, looking around. Who would be knocking at a two-story window?
Too late, she noticed the form of someone swinging down from the roof through the window. She cried out, but the figure leapt into the room, landing on his feet right in front of her. Sakura barely had time to register beautiful, charcoal eyes before she felt hands on her waist and lips on her nose.
"Sasuke!" she exclaimed, shoving him off. "You're not supposed to see me in my dress!"
"What?" he laughed softly, trying to creep in closer for a kiss. "I can't see my bride?"
"No!" she shoved him again (playfully, of course. She'd never hurt him) though he kept advancing despite her protests. "It's bad luck! Besides, it's tradition and I'd like to keep it."
"Come on," he placated, grabbing hold of her hands and swinging them back and forth. She succumbed to his smile and let him pull her closer for a small embrace. His face crept closer to hers til their noses were touching. Sakura let out a content breath, her heart beating rapidly. The young man looked into her eyes and gave her a mischievous smile. "Not even one kiss?"
She scoffed at his gall, a smile on her face despite the indignation. "Sasuke Uchiha! If we've made it this long, another hour won't make a difference! Now out you go, before someone sees you." Sakura began ushering her man toward the window, shoving him onto the windowsill.
The last Uchiha turned around, bracing himself in the frame, and winked at her subtly. "See you at the altar, love," he said. He turned around and leapt out the window, climbed the wall and entered back into the building through the open window to his room.
Sakura laughed under her breath and swung the glass shut. "Sasuke Uchiha, you will never cease to surprise me with your antics."
"Sakura!" Ino's voice called from the other side of the door. "We're coming in!"
"Okay, I'm ready," the pinkette called back.
In walked her three bridesmaids, Ino, Hinata and Tenten. They had their light purple bridesmaid gowns in their arms and the quickly hung them up to get dressed. The girls were ready in no time, applying some last minute make-up. Ino came up to Sakura at last.
"Are you ready?"
The young woman closed her eyes and gave a great sigh. "As ready as I'll ever be, Ino-pig."
The long-haired blonde smiled. "You made it, Forehead."
Sakura walked up the aisle with her father, Kizashi, at her side. Music was played by a beautiful quartet and even her stone-faced mother was shedding a tear or two. The veiled woman spared few glances for her companions, for her eyes were glued on her groom.
He looked sharp in his suit which she had not previously seen him in an hour before. His tie was white rather than his entire suit which was the traditional black. They had wanted to get married in white for the symbolism of it, but Sasuke drew the line when a white tux was mentioned.
So instead the groom wore a white bowtie and the bride wore white.
Sakura thought she saw Sasuke's eyes glistening a bit, but knowing Sasuke, she was sure that the veil was just playing tricks on her. But when her father lifted her veil to give her a kiss farewell, and handed her off to the man she'd spend the rest of her life with, she was shocked to see that, she had been right and, Sasuke was tearing up.
As he walked her up to the altar, she whispered to him, "What are you sad for?"
"I'm not sad, love," he whispered. "I'm happy."
The pastor stood before them and held in his hands the bible, their vows and the pair of rings (they could find no one to be a ring-bearer) nestled between.
"'I, Sasuke Uchiha,'" the man began.
Sakura barely heard the rest he said, only what Sasuke echoed. I, Sasuke Uchiha, take you, Sakura Haruno, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
His dark, deep eyes bore into her as he held her hands and made that vow. She repeated in kind, never once taking her veiled emerald eyes from his.
"… vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Sasuke smiled a nervous and shaky smile. He lifted her sheer veil and flipped it back over. His dry, calloused hands hesitantly went up to her cheeks and cradled her small face. Sakura looked up at him adoringly, her eyes aglow.
Slowly, oh so slowly, Sasuke lowered his face to hers, and closed his eyes. Sakura's fluttered shut too, and his soft lips captured hers for the first time. A cheer rose up from the pews and hoots and hollers as well. The newly married couple pulled apart and smiled sheepishly at their friends. Calls for another kiss arose from the young men, friends of Sasuke's. The Uchiha smirked and gallantly dipped his wife and planted a passionate kiss on her lips. The laughter doubled and gasps were countless.
When her husband pulled away, Sakura looked up at Sasuke in surprise. "Wow…" she breathed.
His smirk melted into a smile and he placed a small kiss upon her nose. "Same to you, love."
"I love you, Sasuke Uchiha," she smiled.
"And I love you, Sakura Uchiha."
"So, you never kissed Sakura before you were at the altar?"
"Except for on her nose, and you've seen me do that dobe."
"Yeah, but… I mean, not once? You dated for two years and you never sneaked a kiss from her or something?"
"She told me right off she didn't want to kiss til her wedding day. I wanted to respect her wishes."
"Wow, you must love her a lot, Sasuke…"
"… Yeah, I do…"
"Don't get all mushy on me now!"
"You're the one who's getting mushy, Naruto."
"Ah, details. Anyway, I'm gonna ask Hinata to dance. Don't hog Sakura. It's her big day, too!"
"Hey there, Sasuke."
"You've both come so far since you were twelve."
"If you had to place one event that started it all, what would it be?"
"Heh… we were getting briefed for an ANBU mission, the squad captain, Genma, was late and we were just talking. Her desk was askew and nearly on top of mine, while Naruto was turned around in his to talk to us. I was bored and her bracelet had some loose tassels and… I tied them together, untied them, anything to pass the time."
"…You were bored?"
"Not exactly. When my hand touched hers, she didn't pull away. She gave a strange look for sure, but she continued talking with Naruto and Hinata, and never pulled her hand away from mine. It gave me hope that if I chose to pursue her, it wasn't an entirely lost cause."
"Well, that's a little bit more romantic, at least."
"Definitely not your average love story."
"Then again, you're both not average people…"
"…That's right… we're ninja."
"Well, I wish you both the best. Have fun, don't drink too much."
"Get lost, Kakashi!"
"Treat her right, Sasuke. She's yours to cherish now."
The day Sasuke first started initiating physical contact with her, Sakura questioned whether he was really Sasuke.
On that day when Sasuke initiated contact with her, Sakura realized that under that stern exterior, there really was just a little boy longing to love and be loved, just like the little girl that was inside of her.
A/N: The story up to the point of halfway through the movie night was actually part of a dream I had (of course with me as Sakura and Sasuke as ... someone else ^_^) So I decided to make a one-shot. The first fanfiction I've finished in a while. ;P I have over three dozen stories started, but either they still need polishing or aren't finished! Ugh. Anyway, ignore me. I hope you enjoyed this piece. :)
~ Timber Wolf