"Sakura! Where ya goin'?"
"Oh, hi, Naruto." The pink-haired girl turned around. "What's up? I was just going home."
"You want to go out for some ramen?"
Sakura smiled sadly. "Sorry, Naruto. Maybe some other time." She turned around and started walking.
Naruto sighed. It had already been two months, but Sakura still wasn't her normal self.
He wondered if she'd ever be her normal self again.
Sakura walked home slowly. She hadn't had much energy for anything these days. She'd been so angry, at first, but all of that had drained out of her. She still hoped, somehow, that he'd come back. Everything reminded her of him; the empty seat in homeroom, the police station, and especially the Uchiha Memorial on the razed, empty ground on the outskirts of the city.
She'd heard what he had said, when she tried to persuade him not to go at that bus stop. She'd seen the look in his eyes; he'd wiped all emotion from them, and that was what had affected her the most.
Sasuke was gone, and he wasn't coming back. And she would have to move on, whether she wanted to or not.
***Three years later***
"Hey! Forehead! Hold up a second."
Sakura had been about to get up, holding her glass. "What? I'm going to go get a refill. You want something?"
Ino looked pointedly at Naruto."Are you gonna tell her?"
Sakura's eyes narrowed. "Tell me what?"
"I—Uh, yeah. I was going to."
"What's going on?" Sakura asked sharply.
"Shikamaru heard about it first," Naruto said, sounding hesitant (for the first time in his life).
Sakura's stare turned to Shikamaru, who had been lying on his back but had now propped himself up on his elbows. "Naruto should tell you."
"I—" Naruto said.
"Oh for God's sake, Naruto, just tell her." Ino said angrily.
"What the hell is going on?" Sakura asked, irritated.
"Sasuke. It's—He's coming back."
Sakura's glass dropped and shattered dramatically on the ground. "I—What? Sas—What are you talking about?"
"He's coming back for senior year. Left the police academy."
Sakura was speechless. For a few moments she couldn't get anything out of her mouth. Then,
"And when were you planning on telling me?" She asked very carefully, trying to conceal all emotion.
"I only heard about it earlier this afternoon," Ino said. She was looking at Sakura worriedly. "Shikamaru told me."
"I found out yesterday." Shikamaru said, laziness gone from his voice. "I told Naruto. Nobody else knows."
"Oh." Was all Sakura could manage. Sasuke, coming back? It was too strange for her to even wrap her head around.
"You okay, Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked.
"What? Oh, yeah. I'm fine. I'm great!" She smiled. "Sasuke's coming back, huh? Well that's just great for him." She said bitterly.
"Well I can't wait to see him again." Naruto said with a tentative grin.
You can't wait to see your 'best friend' who left without so much as a goodbye and never bothered to talk to you once for three years? Sakura knew that Sasuke might have had his reasons for leaving, but she wouldn't be forgiving him for anything.
"When is he coming back? School's already started." Sakura asked.
"Tomorrow or the next day." Shikamaru said.
"Jeez." Ino said under her breath.
"I'm going to go home. I'm kind of tired." Sakura said suddenly.
"You want me to come with?" Ino asked, fixing her intense blue-eyed gaze on Sakura and asking silently, Are you going to be okay?
"No, it's fine. I'll see you guys tomorrow."
"Aw, okay, Sakura." Naruto pouted.
Tomorrow? Less than twenty-four hours until she saw Sasuke Uchiha again.
Sakura woke up determined to look her best. That insecure girl from the bus stop was gone. She had changed while Sasuke was gone, and he would find that out.
She left her hair wavy and loose and pulled on a pair of skinny jeans, a blue-green sweater and strappy sandals. She concentrated her makeup around her eyes but added some lip gloss. She needed to look confident.
And a confident Sakura Haruno was not to be messed with.
She climbed the steps up to school slowly, and Kiba caught up to her as she was reaching the doors.
"Hey, Sak," he said. "You hear about Sasuke?"
"Yeah. Is he here?"
"Yeah, I think so. Shino told me he saw him."
"Oh. Okay, well, I have to go get my books. I'll see you later, Kiba."
"See ya. Don't tear Sasuke's face off, 'kay? Even if he deserves it."
Sakura rolled her eyes.
When she got to her locker, she saw a flash of blond hair and an orange shirt and somehow knew. She was going to walk right by them. She wouldn't look at him.
"Hey, Sakura! Wait up!"
She cursed Naruto's ridiculously loud voice. If only she could pretend she didn't hear him. She closed her eyes for a moment and then paused before approaching him.
"Hey Naruto—" She stopped when she saw him, just behind Naruto.
As much as she didn't want to admit it, to say the years had been kind to Sasuke was an understatement. A very, very, large understatement. He had the same thick, spiky-ish black hair and those intense dark eyes that made you want to stare and look away at the same time. But now he was tall and muscular in a way that made her positive he had a killer body under his white button-down. A prime example of how the outside of a person in no way reflected the inside.
"Look who it is!" Naruto said, wearing that same hesitant grin as the previous evening.
"Sakura." Sasuke said.
Yeah, puberty had apparently decided to hold nothing back when it hit Sasuke. His voice was low and smoky and…she cursed teenage hormones yet again because it turned her on. You're an idiot, Sakura. You're a stupid, shallow teenage girl. This is the guy that broke your heart and didn't even care. This is the guy who left you and all his friends without a second glance.
"Sasuke." She said.
Neither of them said anything but the tension between them could've been cut with a knife.
Her eyes were narrowed, and Naruto was clearly getting uncomfortable. "So, uh…Maybe we should postpone this reunion, or we're gonna be late for class."
"Right." Sakura said. She spun on her heel and started walking fast in the opposite direction. She could feel Sasuke's gaze on her back.
She got into her first period Calculus class, where she found out that Sasuke was apparently the talk of the school.
"Did you see him?" Ami Watanabe was saying dramatically. "He's turned into a Greek god. And I thought he was cute in middle school."
Sakura rolled her eyes as she sat down in her normal seat next to Hinata Hyuuga.
"D-did you see him?" Hinata asked Sakura tentatively.
Sakura nodded. "Said hi."
"Naruto was really happy about him being back. But I-I wondered if you were okay."
"I'm fine. But thanks, Hinata." Sakura waved a hand dismissively. "He left three years ago. Everything's changed since then."
Hinata nodded. "You're right."
Thank God, Sakura thought when she learned that Sasuke wasn't in any of her classes. Even with that reassurance, it was still hard to focus on what her teachers were saying when Sasuke's name was all anyone was talking about, all day.
After school, Sakura changed into her practice outfit and met Ino to head up to the field for cheerleading practice. She needed a heart to heart with her best friend, who was probably the only person who might be able to help. Or at least badmouth Sasuke a bit to make Sakura feel better. Because that's what friends were for, weren't they?
But Ino wasn't alone; Kiba and Choji were waiting with her to go to football practice. Ino gave Sakura an apologetic glance. Sakura shook her head.
"Honestly, stop worrying about me." She muttered to Ino. "I'm not about to have a breakdown. Or some ridiculous panic attack."
"I'm not worried. I just wanted to talk to you." Ino rolled her eyes. "Come on, let's go."
"You guys see Sasuke?" Choji asked, opening a bag of chips.
"Honestly, Choji, can't you even take a break from eating before practice? What if you throw up?" Ino said, exasperated.
"This is my routine, Ino. One bag of barbecue flavor is my secret weapon before every practice. Two bags before games." He shoved a handful into his mouth.
"It's true." Kiba said. "Some sort of secret formula. Makes him play like a pro."
"Whatever." Ino sighed. "I'd try to explain that it's a mental thing, not the chips. But both of you idiots wouldn't listen."
"So anyway, did you guys see him?" Choji asked.
Ino shook her and Sakura nodded.
"He was with Naruto." Sakura said.
"Why didn't you tell me you saw him?" Ino asked her.
"I just saw you for the first time today like a minute ago." Sakura said, irritated.
"Well, he's coming to practice, apparently." Kiba said.
"Seriously?" Sakura said.
"Tryouts are tomorrow," Kiba said with a shrug, "So he can still join the team."
"Oh." Was all Sakura said.
They reached the football field and the boys broke off from them to join the rest of the football players on the field. Sakura scanned the group of boys and saw the telltale black hair almost immediately.
"Was he over there?" Ino asked Sakura as they headed toward the neighboring field where the squad was practicing that day.
"Yeah. He was on the far left." Sakura said without turning around.
Ino whirled around, looking for him, then whistled. Sakura glared at her.
"Well, you have to admit one thing," Ino said. "No matter how much we don't like him…"
"Don't say it." Sakura said, then sped up to join the group of girls stretching in the middle of the field.
"Sakura. Ino. Can't you set an example? Practice started twenty minutes ago and you're the captains." Coach Shizune said disapprovingly.
"Sorry. We got distracted." Ino said, sliding down into a split to which Sakura rolled her eyes.
"A distraction named Sasuke Uchiha, I'm guessing." Ami Watanabe said with a smirk to Kasumi, another girl on the squad.
"If you say anything else you're going on the bottom of the pyramid, you filthy hypocrite." Sakura said to Ami. "I heard you in math class."
Ami retreated with a bright red blush.
"Can we please start the routine? You all waste too much time." Shizune said.
"Alright, all of you," Ino said, standing up. "For the next two hours, the football team doesn't exist, you hear me? No matter how many shirts come off."
Sakura smiled reluctantly at Ino's bluntness.
Someone turned on their speakers and pop music blasted, and Sakura was able to tune out everything for the next hour except the pumping bass and the feel of the wind as she flipped through the air.
A/N: So this is my first foray into the wide world of Naruto fan fiction. Needless to say it's pretty bad because I banged it out in a few hours when I had a random idea and nothing else to do. The general plot of this story is still in the works.
I really wanted to explore Sakura's character (obviously in a modern context) because she's one of my favorite characters. Hopefully I do her justice (but she's not going to be perfect). I'm a relatively new Naruto fan, one of my friends got me hooked on the anime this past year, and I haven't even caught up to the latest Shippuden yet (I know, I know).
Constructive criticism is appreciated, but don't be offended if I don't take every suggestion because this is totally, completely just for fun. I do other stuff with the writing I generally want to improve on; this is just to explore/have fun with these characters. These first few chapters will probably be changing a lot while I find out where I want to take this.