Title: this isn't what i wanted
Summary: He broke a promise he'd made to himself ever since the massacre happened.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Prompt: Please make a drabble of what Sasuke would do if Gaara had killed Sakura! - anon
Rating: K+
Warning(s): TRAGEDY ONCE AGAIN. PRE-SHIPPUDEN. LOTS OF FREAKING ANGST.
Comments: once again based on a headcanon someone asked me and oh my god I hate myself for this.


When he heard the sand start falling, Sasuke knew. He knew they had won.

It's over, he thought, spitting out a mouthful of blood before wiping the remains at his lips. Naruto beat him. He frowned. Something inside him burned at the thought, unsettling him until he was clenching his fist. Naruto beat Gaara. It's over.

Grimacing a little, Sasuke pushed himself away from the trunk, tired eyes trained on his pink haired teammate still trapped against the tree in front of him. He steadied himself on his feet as he watched her body gradually be freed from the grasp of the sands, swallowing tightly at the thought of how badly this could have turned out.

("Hey, Naruto… Sakura, you have to save her no matter what. Once you've got her… carry her and run as far… and as fast as you can…"

"Sasuke…"

"Even if it's just for a while, I'll be able to hold him in place…")

They could have died. They could have all died. If Naruto hadn't somehow released such power—they would all be dead right now. Naruto would have died fighting, Sakura would have died crushed beneath Gaara's grip and he… he would have died useless.

Jaw tightening, Sasuke looked down and gripped his left arm, wincing as it throbbed even more painfully in response. He really had pushed himself past his limit. He could only hope he hadn't permanently damaged anything.

("Never again. I lost everything before… I don't ever want to watch those dear to me die before my eyes again…")

His head jerked up again once he noticed Sakura's body leaning forward, and instantly, he readied himself to catch her, securing his position tightly against the wood beneath him and waiting until her body was completely freed before he sprung forward, scooping her up in his arms.

But even there, he thought, ignoring the twinge in his injured arm as soft eyes drew themselves to her unconscious face. Permanently damaged or not, I couldn't leave her to die. She's innocent to all this. I'd rather die myself than have her or Naruto sacrifice themselves for me.

Landing softly on a large tree branch, Sasuke grunted a little, half a grimace slipping onto his lips as his legs trembled faintly, threatening to give way to his body weight some time soon. But he endured through his exhaustion, carefully bending down even as his left arm screamed in agony, and laying Sakura down with a surprising display of gentleness.

Itachi be damned, they've never done anything to deserve this. My sole purpose is to carry out my revenge, but theirs… His gaze softened some more, fingers from his right hand brushing the based of her neck and the soft locks there, before they slipped off in an almost reluctant manner. They still have to find theirs.

It was only then that he seemed to notice how beat up she was. Half-dried blood on the corner of her lips, scratch marks over her cheeks and arms, and a few large blooming bruises. She looked so frail as she lied there, scratched and bloodied. Like a victim of a violent crime she wasn't supposed to be part of. Guilt tore at his heart, and he bit the inside of his cheek, eyes full of silent apologies.

This wasn't supposed to happen to you, Sakura, he whispered in his mind. I never wanted you to get hurt like this again. I told myself I would protect you—that I would keep you from harm but I…

His shoulders slumped, and he stayed put, staring at her with the most vulnerable of looks. Sasuke felt absolutely miserable.

"Take care of Sakura," he finally murmured to Pakkun, who was lingering at their side with a strangely sad look on his face.

Bracing his feet on the branch, Sasuke prepared to jump away from the scene and seek out Naruto, and he gave one last look to the fragile girl, before stopping short as something about Sakura caught his eye and nearly made him lose his balance.

Her neck, it's… His thought died, mind blanking as his eyes drew themselves to the girl's chest, mouth becoming dry as he finally noticed that it wasn't rising or falling at all. It doesn't look… right…

With a shaking hand, he reached for her wrist, feeling for a pulse.

There was none.

No…

With widened eyes, Sasuke began to feel panic creeping at his heart, squeezing it tightly and causing his breathing to grow shallow. No, no no, no— Stumbling over her, he pressed two fingers to her throat with his free hand, desperately trying to sense a single heartbeat that would tell him she was not dead and she could still be saved but—

"Sakura," he whispered, his dark, dark gaze filled with terror and complete, utter helplessness. Nausea twisted in his stomach as she didn't respond. "Sakura," he repeated hoarsely, her name almost a growl on his lips. "Sakura, damnit, wake up."

—he couldn't feel anything.

Wake up, he pleaded to her, fisting his hair with one hand, his blood running cold as realization slowly swept over him in slow, harsh waves. You have to wake up. You have to open your eyes. You have to. You can't be dead so please—open your eyes.

"You're not dead," he mumbled, tugging at his hair strongly, eyes wild and terrified. "You're not dead, you're not dead, you're not dead, you're not—"

She's dead. Sakura's dead.

And he broke.

"You can't do this to me!" he finally shouted, grasping her arms so he could shake her violently, looking as desperate as he felt. He could feel angry tears blurring his eyes. "You have to wake up, damnit! You can't die on me! I promised I'd never—I'd never…"

She's dead, Sasuke.

He wrung his head to the side, then, gritting his teeth tightly. He choked down a sob as the tears finally spilled over his cheeks, fury boiling in his blood and chest tightening so much that he almost couldn't bear to breathe.

"Not you too…" he said roughly, almost whimpering as his hands slipped to the back of her shoulders, fingers clutching to the material of her shirt. He leaned his forehead on her collarbone, crying and trembling against her with a mix of self-hatred and anguish. "Not you too!"

You failed, Itachi whispered in his mind. Taunting him. Tormenting him. Yet again, you were unable to protect someone you cared about, little brother. Clutching her tighter, Sasuke let out a shuddering breath, the agony of loss and truth of his weakness stabbing him in the gut. You weren't strong enough. You could have saved her..

"I'm sorry," Sasuke rasped, gasping out half-sobs, half-shouts, as one hand ran through her hair softly. "I'm so sorry, Sakura…"

.

.

(This was the last time Sasuke would allow his world to crumble.)

.

.

.

Barely a week later, Sasuke decided to seek out Orochimaru on his own.

Sakura's death made him remember why he didn't allow himself to grow attached to others in the first place, and had such a profound effect on him that it forced him to close himself off even worse than before. Another precious person dead—their blood on his hands.

He would never make that mistake again. He would never put down his walls for anyone ever again.

Because as long as he was around, as long as he cared for others—he would be weak. He would put them at risk. He would put himself at risk.

And this was simply something he could not allow. Not anymore.

.

.

Years later, he lost himself to darkness. Swallowed whole by the lies, the fury, the thirst for vengeance and justice.

There were no tender words to reach out to him; no kind, gentle heart to engulf his darkness in the way his dead teammate had always been able to. There were no green, green eyes full of love and hope to remind him of a past that was once beautiful—a past that calmed him.

No, there was only pure, unadulterated anger, and a ghost of a family and a girl he cared too much for.

.

.

Sasuke would never return to Konoha.

(despite naruto's efforts, his heart was gone—along with Sakura)


A/N: Sasuke never came back because Sasuke would be forever lost in darkness without Sakura. Naruto is not the only one who has a role in bringing him back: they both played their respective role and they both have a profound effect on him. If either of them died in part 1, Sasuke would never be able to come back. That is what I tried to imply in the ending.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed… and I hope I didn't break your heart too much! Mine was broken heavily during this whole thing, I had to stop several times cause I was so heavily emotionally invested in it.