Title: Dedicated To You
Song: "Breathe Again" by Sara Bareilles
Summary: What kind of heart doesn't look back?
Date: February 25, 2013
Genre: Romance/Drama
Pairing: Sasuke and Sakura


Dedicated To You
breathe again

"…Sakura."

Sakura faltered in her reach for the scattered kunai and shuriken littering the war-torn ground. Her eyes went unfocused as his acknowledgement settled in her mind, fingers twitching midair before she slowly lowered her arm and hung her hand limply at her side. The act of retrieving her weapons hadn't been an important priority but merely a mechanical motion to prevent the uneasiness of being in his presence.

She closed her eyes to reign in on her emotions, listening, in the distance behind her, as the Joint Ninja Army celebrated their victory over Uchiha Madara's and Uchiha Obito's defeat. The past few hours were but a flurry of activity – the last she remembered was being thrown, close to half a mile, from the battlefield and being unexpectedly saved by a Mukoton Jutsu. She turned, expecting to thank Yamato, only to be met by the First Hokage. The 'god of shinobi' had grinned down at her in a jovial manner before directing a challenging gaze towards Madara, disappearing from her sights in a flurry of leaves.

Then the Second, Third, and Fourth Hokages appeared, the Yondaime politely asking for an update on what was going on and Sakura answering as best as she could in her bewildered state. The remaining Hokage thanked her for her help before disappearing after the Shodai in a blur of impressive speed.

And when she managed to gain back her bearings once more, Sakura was stunned when she noticed Uchiha Sasuke and Orochimaru – flanked by two other shinobi – standing just a few feet away, observing the far-off conflict with placid interest.

Yellow eyes shifted to settle on her and a smile curled across pale features, "…Ah, it's Sakura-chan."

Three pairs of eyes were suddenly drawn to her and Sakura could only stand on shaky legs, fatigued from fighting, bloody and bruised, but gripping the kunai in her hand as if her life depended on it.

"…I'll fight you to my last breath if it means keeping you from joining this battle," Sakura breathed, trying to keep her voice steady, "You've caused enough trouble and I'll die trying to prevent you from making it worse."

Orochimaru's amused smile seemed to widen. The shinobi with the pale hair and amethyst eyes was watching her, unimpressed. The taller male with wild, orange hair was frowning down at her with unease. And Sasuke – Sasuke was staring at her as blankly as he always did.

Without lifting his gaze from Sakura's determined emerald, Sasuke opened his mouth, "Go."

The three shinobi around him began to move forward and Sakura widened her stance, a sneer crossing her features.

"Like hell!"

"Guts," The pale-haired male complimented nonchalantly as he continued towards her, already removing an eerily familiar sword from his back.

"A truly loyal kunoichi to the Hidden Leaf," Orochimaru mocked lightly as he reached within feet of her.

"Test me," Sakura growled, punching the ground and causing the earth to crack with an incredible tremor beneath their feet. The shinobi carrying his sword laughed as he escaped the chaos of shifting terrain, purple irises suddenly sparked with excitement; Orochimaru's brow quirked, jumping high as he examined the destruction with a hint of nostalgia; the orange-haired male hastily sped off to the side, moving beyond her in a wide arc, brows creased with concern.

Sakura cursed as the aching injury of her left ankle caused her to react slowly, watching angrily as the three shinobi moved past her with little trouble. She turned her back to Sasuke, intent on running after the three men, who were speeding towards the main battle, when a rough hand grabbed the back of her collar, forcing her to halt.

"Heal your injuries before rejoining the battle; don't be stupid," Sasuke stated blankly, pulling her vest and causing her to stumble back a few steps.

Sakura was left in a stupor as she blinked at Sasuke's back, shifting her gaze just in time to see a Summons, called by Orochimaru, attack the monstrosity that Madara and Obito had control over.

"…You're…" Sakura swallowed thickly, "…You're on our side?"

Sasuke grunted, removing his Kusanagi from its scabbard, lips forming a grim line, "…Heal your injuries. Then we will return to the fight," He side-glanced her, "Together."

Everything after that was too much of a blur for Sakura. She healed her injuries as best as she could and then she rejoined the violent fray with Sasuke at her side. Naruto hadn't seemed surprised – in fact, finally seeing Sasuke caused his motivation and energy to increase tenfold; apparently, the reanimated hokage had informed her best friend of Sasuke's unexpected alliance.

The fighting had been fierce. It felt like it lasted days when it was only another several hours. Sakura provided medical support, falling into a near-perfect effort of teamwork with Naruto and Sasuke that proved highly beneficial towards their enemies' downfall.

In the last hour, however, Sasuke had been injured and Naruto firmly instructed Sakura to stay with him. So she did.

Haruno Sakura stayed by Uchiha Sasuke's wounded side to heal him, watching with worry as Uzumaki Naruto teamed with the entire joint-shinobi army, flanked by Kakashi, Sai, and all the Hokage, dealing the final and fatal blow that ensured their victory.

It was finally over. The war was over.

She wasn't sure what to do next, however. Naruto probably had the strongest desire to get to his two teammates as fast as possible, but she was sure that he was going to be held back for a good few minutes. All four Hokage were present, his dad was present, and the entire army stood in his way of getting to them, probably patting his back and congratulating him, forcing him to hang back, for some time, in courteousness.

This left her alone, with Uchiha Sasuke, for a significant amount of time…

What would he do? What should she do?

And as silence stretched on, Sakura began the action of collecting her scattered weapons – some not even hers, but it gave her something to do – unsure if she should stay or go.

That is, until he paused her with the utterance of her name.

She looked up slowly, green eyes raking over his motionless form, dark eyes trained on the ground, one hand resting on the sheathed hilt of his katana and the other limp at his side.

He looked up and dark eyes met with uncertain emerald, "…You were my weakest bond."

Her heart stopped. Her breath hitched and she held it, a lump forming in her throat as she stared at Sasuke's guarded irises, a frown tugging low on his lips. He watched her – examined her – as she stood rigidly, caught by surprise by the sudden statement.

"That's why it was so easy to attack you, and to turn your kunai on you, that one day," Sasuke continued by explanation, "You were my weakest bond."

Sakura's heart restarted but it pounded heavily – achingly – in her chest. A part of her wasn't surprised, though. Sasuke always thought of Naruto as a best- friend and brother-figure, and Kakashi as a father-figure – people he could relate to. She had been the annoying girl that had constantly asked him out on dates – even when she was rejected time and again.

"…I…understand why you tried to kill me," Sakura whispered, her soft response causing Sasuke's expression to harden and crease, "…Besides, I tried to kill you that day. That was my whole intention. You had been acting out of defense to my actions."

"…You acted with my best interests at heart, Sakura."

"It doesn't make it acceptable," Sakura whispered, shaking her head "You're still my teammate; my friend – you're Sasuke. And I almost–"

"You did nothing. I made the first move." The Uchiha muttered, his words resolute, "You paused. You had the kunai to my back – you had the chance and didn't follow through. I'm the one who reacted by choking the life out of you and turning your weapon on you. What I did is…unforgivable." He scowled, "So stop defending me, Sakura."

Sakura shut her eyes, willing her tears not to fall, "Why are we talking about this?"

"Because you were my weakest bond," Sasuke repeated darkly, glaring at the floor, "Yet your actions affected me the most."

Sakura blinked, utterly confused as she watched Sasuke run a hand through his hair in irritation, sneering at the floor in an effort to avoid eye contact with her. She remained silent, not knowing what to say.

"It's annoying," He explained gruffly, "The girl who didn't know me at all. And now that I'm beginning to see things clearer I can remember things clearer too. The idiot and Kakashi were always annoying, with their speeches on giving up on revenge and not following a path towards darkness. But you…" He looked up and stared into her widened eyes, "It was always your words that had some kind of power over me."

Sakura stepped back at the intensity of his stare, "…I…"

"That night you tried to stop me," Sasuke continued, voice low, "You knew I was leaving. And the things you said – about happiness and good memories and your willingness to follow me – these words, coming from my weakest connection, actually making me doubt my reasons for leaving. My weakest bond as the first face I see after three years – still chasing after me and trying to bring me back; my weakest attachment being the girl who still cares – enough that she would bear the weight of killing me if it meant freeing me from my darkness. Why did your actions – your words – make me reconsider what I was doing?"

He scowled at her and the turmoil in his eyes made her heart stutter. He looked so lost and confused – his emotions, which he had locked away for so long and had somehow allowed to be set free, were bombarding him with so many uncertainties.

"…I don't know if I can answer that, Sasuke," Sakura replied softly, "…Maybe I'd like to think that your bonds with home were a lot stronger than you realized."

"I wanted to kill you to sever those bonds completely," Sasuke confessed darkly, "You and Naruto were reasons to return to Konoha. Killing both of you would have made everything easier."

Sakura exhaled soft and slow, "But you didn't kill us. And you're on our side now."

Again, Sasuke's features hardened, "I am only a temporary ally. Konoha is…poison. It's not a place I desire to return to."

Another crack split her pounding heart and Sakura heard another cry of cheers behind her, steadily getting closer. Naruto would be here soon. She blinked and solemnly observed the broken boy standing a few meters away from her. He looked so frustrated, hands fisted at his sides as he glared at the empty spaces between their feet. A scowl was twisting harshly at his lips, brows steepened as thoughts whirred around in his head.

"Did you ever think…?" Sakura started hesitantly, causing his head to rise so he could regard her, "…Did you ever think that my words had some kind of power because you heard some truth to them? Maybe you were afraid that your…" She swallowed sadly, "…that your weakest bond knew you a little too well – possibly more than you wanted."

Sasuke shook his head, "No. It's not that." He closed his eyes, collecting himself, "You were my weakest bond but you were still a precious person to me. And you were weak to me – and not in terms of skill or physicality – but to my…appeal. I was guilty…because you were hurt by my betrayal." He looked up to study her intently, "You confessed to me the night I left – you were emotionally attached."

Sakura turned red, a defensive frown pulling her lips, "I was a child."

Sasuke smirked, but it was more self-scathing than amused, "You cared about me. And I hurt you the same way Itachi hurt me. And that fact bothered me."

"You hurt Naruto too," Sakura pressed, "What makes me so different?"

"Because I can relate to Naruto," Sasuke answered honestly, "You were always an ambiguity to me. The idiot would get angry; he would run after me, like he did, and spout out nonsense about coming back. But you – you confessed to me and I knocked you out and left you. I was…uncertain of how my actions would have affected you."

"…Why would you care?" Sakura questioned, curious but mostly confused, "You left."

"I did," Sasuke agreed, "But you said it yourself – I never killed you or Naruto. My bonds were still intact no matter my desire to sever them. I was grateful for your honesty that night, and the lengths you were willing to go to have me stay – I wasn't sure what those feelings would be once you woke to my treachery."

"…I'm standing here, aren't I?" The kunoichi responded, waving a hand at her motionless body.

He looked at her, expression unreadable, "Aa; you are." His eyes flicked behind her as another cheer caused the air to tremble. A frown tugged on his lips and his body shifted in a tensed way that Sakura didn't fail to notice.

"…You wanted closure, didn't you?" Sakura asked softly, sadly, "That's why you explained yourself to me. Naruto would understand because you two can relate to each other. But us – you and me…"

Sasuke regarded her silently before inclining his head, "…Aa."

"You're leaving," She acknowledged with acceptance, offering the Uchiha a sincere half-smile, "But this time…I guess I won't run after you. As much as I want to," She closed her eyes and a single tear slipped down her cheek, "As much as I want you to stay, I only want what's best for you now. I can't be selfish anymore."

"…If there's one thing, I'm sure of," Sasuke started quietly, seriously, "You were never selfish, Sakura."

She swallowed, "Would there ever be a chance to see you again?"

Sasuke looked at the ground, unsure, "Maybe; someday."

"I hope someday soon," The kunoichi admitted with a watery smile.

The Uchiha slowly nodded once, "Aa."

The sound of cheers in closer proximity startled Sakura and she shifted, half-turning to face the celebration while the other half kept Sasuke in her right-peripherals.

He shook his head and directed his chin towards the approaching crowds, "Go, Sakura."

She looked at him with furrowed brows, torn, before shutting her eyes and allowing several tears to shed. Turning her back to Sasuke and looking on with misted vision towards the mass of people loudly celebrating their victory, Sakura took several measured steps forward, blood rushing hotly in her veins and heart thudding painfully in her chest as she walked away from the man she cared about so much.

It hurt tremendously.

Decisively, Sakura twisted her head to look back, selfishly desiring for another look at him even when she was sure that he would be long gone.

He was still there. He hadn't disappeared like she had expected of him. And his dark eyes were locked on her, brows lifted, a little surprised that she had turned around to actively look for him.

The crowd was still a ways off and Sakura moved on instinct, turning on her heels and running back the last few meters she had traversed and more, approaching Sasuke's stunned form and colliding into his body, wrapping her petite arms around him and resting her cheek against his chest, fearing a negative reaction but needing to experience one last tangible connection with him before he disappeared from her life.

"Sakura."

"No matter what," Sakura whispered against his chest, "No matter everything that's happened between us I will always care about you. I will always love you. And I want you to know that. There will always be a home with Naruto, Kakashi, and me, if not the Hidden Leaf."

Slowly, hesitantly, she felt a hand press against her right shoulder blade and, within several seconds, the remaining hand was wrapped around her waist and she was being enveloped in a tightened and sincere embrace from Uchiha Sasuke.

"…You and your words," He muttered into her hair.

Sakura smiled through her tears, "You can always come back. It doesn't have to be now. We'll always accept and love you, Sasuke."

He closed his eyes, "…After everything I've done. After how much I've messed up and hurt you and Naruto…You both still believe in me, even when I was wrapped in darkness."

"You aren't darkness itself, Sasuke. And we'll protect you from the darkness if we have to," Sakura promised, "Me and Naruto. When you're ready, we'll be right beside you."

His hold tightened a fraction, "…Thank you."

After several more seconds of a silent yet meaningful embrace, Sakura slowly pulled away, one hand coming up to wipe away her tears, though she remained close to Sasuke, her other hand still gripping his shirt while his palms rested atop her shoulders, dark eyes looking down at her with a softened light.

"I hope you find what you're searching for, wherever you go," Sakura whispered honestly, "But I want you to know that we'll be waiting. I'll be waiting."

Sasuke looked at her, a corner of his lips twitching upwards as he leaned down, nose barely brushing hers, "You were my weakest bond, Sakura," His words were whispered but he leaned closer and brushed his lips lightly across hers, adding a fraction of pressure for a few blissful seconds before pulling away mere millimeters, breaths still intermingled and lips still grazing, "But you have always been my strongest support. I realize, now, that you are a significant influence on me." He reached up and caressed her cheek with his thumb, looking into her clear green eyes, "And that you will always be a precious person in my life."

Sakura breathed out, relieved to hear his softly-spoken words, meant only for her to hear, "Come back soon, Sasuke-kun."

He held her closer and nodded his head, "Aa."


A/N: This didn't turn out how I expected. Is Sasuke OOC? Did this even make sense? Hmmm. Meh. I guess that's what drabbles are for?

And the point of this story? Sakura's always been a weird relationship for him. He needed closure with her before he left - because whatever answer the First Hokage gave him in the manga is going to give him something to think about, I presume. He almost killed her, they have that history, so he wanted to know where they stand. And as far as Sakura turning away, it was one thing for Sasuke to not leave immediately but it was another for Sakura to be brave enough to turn around and go back to him. It cemented the fact that she still cared even if she was respecting his choice to leave, which opened Sasuke up more to confess that Sakura was still an influence on him.

And I want Sakura to have the chance to turn her back on Sasuke but instead of going forward, she turns back to take him with her. Hence, the summary/lyric that popped out at me. Cuz seriously, if you love a person, do you really not have the temptation/desire to glance back at them when you walk away?

Meep.

This will be a collection of one-shots based on inspiration from songs I can't stop listening to, haha.

Another little project to help with my creative writing-blocks.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and Company or the Songs mentioned above.

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Len