Note: One of my favourite stories on ffn of all time is The Road of Touch, The Road to Feel by sincerelyLen, largely because it actually addresses Sakura's trauma over Sasuke's attempt to kill her, and I don't think there are enough stories like that out there. I sincerely hope it gets finished one day.
Warnings: post-canon, repentant!Sasuke
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Also, the description of "violently and deliberately" – words that I think are perfect for this – came from an anonymous reviewer of Time Can't Heal. Thank you, kind stranger!


phantom pain


When Sakura sees the easy acceptance that comes with understanding and a hope for peace, she scolds herself. She wills her heartbeat to stop its racing and her body to ease its tenseness. She swallows and smiles but she knows that despite Naruto's laughter and Kakashi's smiles, he can see straight through her.

She's a woman of logic. It's simple:

You attacked him first. You tried to kill him first. You started it. It was only fair that he returned the favour, right? It's okay. Now let it go.

But it's not okay. It's not acceptable. And it's not something Sakura can just get forget.

When Sasuke comes back and finds himself redeemed (or as redeemed as he can possibly ever be), Sakura knows what is expected of her. She knows that she's supposed to sit by his bedside while he recovers after a mission, peeling apples and replacing the flowers by the window daily, not making rounds through the hospital and only slipping into his room a few minutes at a time. She knows she's supposed to giggle and twirl her hair and croon the expected Sasuke-kun, not smile anxiously and barely utter his name without croaking. Sakura is expected to slip back into the role of the Lovesick Little Fool to ease Sasuke's transition into Konoha life, but it's not that simple and cannot do that.

She can see the question in Naruto's eyes when, without thinking, she takes a step or two back, physically distancing herself from Sasuke.

What are you doing?

What are you doing?

Well it's simple: He scares her.

Sakura will never say it aloud. She'll never cry in front of him or let him see the way she physically trembles in his presence – and certainly not in a good way. She'll never rant about the matter or outright seek some form of excuse from him. Instead, Sakura struggles to stifle her hyperventilating when he gets a little too close for comfort or when his eyes bleed red or when the familiar chirping of the Chidori fills her ears. She ignores the way he looks at her questioningly when she freezes up and she definitely ignores the way he averts his eyes as if he understands – as if he's sorry.

Those are times when logic fails her – when there's no eye for an eye, there's just pain and a lack of air and an overwhelming fear coursing through her body. There's just Sasuke with one hand locked around her throat and the other about to blast her head off. Those are the times when Sakura's blunt, even if it's just to herself, because he tried to kill her. He tried to kill her, violently and deliberately, without a second thought to the matter. How can she not fear him? She loved him. She worshiped him and he tried to kill her.

She never directly deals with Sasuke. No. Sakura avoids Sasuke as much as she can, but when the invitation for ramen can't be declined or the mission is assigned, Sakura bites her tongue and bears with it until one day, over Naruto's snores and the cracks of campfire, Sasuke all but whispers:

"I fucked up."

She looks at him. He sits beside her with a careful distance between them but she can't help her tensing when the red of the flames reflects in his eyes.

She plays the confused little girl: "What?"

He only frowns. He won't repeat himself.

She can feel herself shaking, something that just happens automatically when he's around. She knows it's kind of pathetic to quake the way she does, but there's nothing flowery or romantic about the action. It's dread, pure and simple. It's memories of suffocating and feeling utterly terrified and heartbroken all coming back to her that make her freeze up and begin to tremble. And this time it's just too much because he's right there and apparently he's finally acknowledging what he did and how badly he fucked her up and it's just too much.

So Sakura cries.

It's not the obnoxious sobbing and splotchy-faced sort of crying. Rather, the tears slip silently as she shivers much to her own dismay, but stifles any sound that threatens to escape. She turns her head to the side so that he cannot see her and she wipes at the tears furiously. Stop that, she wills, but it's useless.

A tentative hand reaches out to her but that only make things worse.

"Don't!" She slaps his gesture away and crawls back. "Don't touch me!" she orders raggedly. "Don't ever touch me!"

Part of her feels guilty for shouting – for holding onto a grudge – but it's not just a grudge, she rationalizes.

For Sakura, the sight of him and the feel of him make her stomach drop and her pulse quicken and her body shake. For Sakura, Sasuke is now a genuine fear, so she ignores Naruto's stirring form and Sasuke's hardened features and hastily walks into the foliage to be alone.

tbc