theme Set: Nine
rating: Light M; mostly for innuendo
disclaimer: none of it is mine - not the worlds and characters associated with Naruto, nor Elizabeth Barret Browning's Sonnet 43, nor Pablo Neruda's Body of a Woman.
“You’re going to be stuck together, in this stall, until you work out all your stupid unresolved sexual tension,” Naruto informed them gleefully, as he ignored both Sakura’s growls, and Sasuke’s biting taunts, and waved a tape recorder in his right hand—“And Ero-Sannin’s going to pay me for it!”
“This is absolutely classic,” Ino cackles as she snap, snap, snaps away at the remaining shreds of Sakura’s dignity—surely the sight of Konoha’s Most Dysfunctional Duo in flagrante delicto, in broad daylight, and in one of the Academy’s private showers, cannot possibly be that amusing.fame
“I don’t get why you’re so angry, bastard,” Naruto groused, nursing his aching cheek, “I’d be thrilled if the villagers started calling me the Konoha Flasher!”
And hers is a chasm only he can fill.
On missions, she stifles her cries with own hand as she comes, sweat-slick and gasping for breath, never once noticing the red-eyed stare that followed the movement of her fingertips with careful attention.
Her release—facilitated by her own fingers, and hers alone—turns into a sordid sort of nightly ritual, so she is unprepared for the sudden warmth at her back, the almost-filth whispered in her ear, and the dark eyes that watch her with burning intensity, even as she slides her skirt down her thighs.
Sasuke, she realizes, is far more vocal—far more demanding—under the cover of night, when the outside has fallen away, and the only world that matters is a blanket of stars.
And he whispers poetry against the peach paleness of her skin—white hills, white thighs, a world in surrender—marveling at the dips and curves of her body’s own geography.
She leaves her hot breaths, her desperate pants, her ragged screams, in the palm of his hand—the Hokage’s office isn’t exactly the most private of trysting places, and the most revered dobe-sama is due back from Ichiraku any minute now—and when she comes apart in his arms, he kisses her to sleep—soft and fleeting touches to her neck, her shoulders, her back.
After five years of distance, the first thing she notices is that the flow of time has robbed him of all expression save apathy.
She tells herself it’s a normal reaction—he’s got a kunai at her neck and a sword to her heart—that her shiver hadn’t come from the breath on her lips, from the realization that came with the loss of his black cloth mask.
“Our roads diverged when you left us,” she says, snapping on her black-leather gloves, “so let me show you how I made mine.”
He outweighs her by at least half-a-stone, but her steps do not falter, and her arms do not tire, as she carries him uphill and toward salvation.
“I hate fish,” he informs her blithely, as she brings his meal into his makeshift cell, “I hate fish, and I hate miso, and I probably hate you, too.”
Sasuke doesn’t ask why she pinches herself so often when they’re on one of their dates, but he soothes the bruises away with an awkward touch, and Sakura thinks that maybe, just maybe, the fleeting pain is worth it.
“I hope she has your eyes,” he said silently, unable to see the harm in telling her at rest, everything he wished he could say when she was awake.
She lives in metaphors—in green apples and dark eyes, in hearts and halves, in laughs and seas of sadness.
Thus far, he has been a man of inaction, but the sight of her, lovelorn, and tired against the walls around his home—around his heart—make him wish for a different ending.
While he’d never go as far as say that she’s his air, he’ll admit that he finds it a little easier to breathe when he’s around her.
“I’m a little out of practice,” he says, quietly, and Sakura allows herself to feel the first stirrings of hope, “but maybe you can teach me how to live for myself.”
There is a fine, fine line between the kingdoms of Denial and Delusion, and when Sasuke finds himself growling that he doesn’t care that Sakura’s stupid flavor of the week has prettier hair, and darker eyes, and deeper pockets, and thinner eyebrows, he has to admit that he’s long crossed over.
May“We’ll be married in autumn, after the leaves have burned dark,” Sasuke says mournfully, as he’s angsting over his strawberry-and-whipped-cream pancakes, and Sakura laughs, pats him on the head like some lost stray she’d picked up on the side of the road, because oh, you must be mistaken, Sasuke-kun, since we’re going to be married in May—the Uchiha have suffered through enough falls.
Sakura’s never been one for poetry—words, words, words, have never been enough, not for them—but she thinks, perhaps, that one line about breadths, and depths, that souls can reach, is almost, almost enough to describe how she feels when she wakes up to Sasuke’s warmth beside her.
And when Sasuke leaps to defend his fallen redheaded teammate, Sakura, tired as she is, cannot stop the sudden twisting of her heart.
And his last thoughts are not of vengeance, or glory, or broken bonds—just the small fleeting hope that maybe, in the next life, he’d be able to do right by her.
“There was almost nothing left in him,” Tsunade informs her gravely, and while Sakura knows the Hokage isn’t only referring to the hole near his heart, she also knows she’s wrong.
Hope is a wretched thing, she decides—one that flutters between reality and possibility, something that will break her or build her, as she watches the threadbare beat of his heart with hawk-eyes.
And when he is gone, and again, she is reduced to waiting, she sleeps in what he leaves behind—surrounds herself with the scent of him, and hopes that she’ll dream.
“I think you’d look really pretty-pretty in pink, Sasuke-teme. What do you say? So it matches Sakura-chan’s—” but that’s all Naruto can get out; in the next minute, he is screaming for asylum and fleeing from four fireballs.
“You’re telling me that Sasuke-kun—the Uchiha Sasuke-kun—is a one-minute wonder?”
Sasuke envies Sai for a lot of reasons, but the brunt of it stems from the other man’s innate ability to capture Sakura in a way he’d never be able to imitate, even with his hallowed bloodline.
She’s cried for him more than she cares to remember, so when the news of his engagement filters back to Konoha, she does nothing except burn the hitae-ate she’s kept close through one thousand unrealized dreams.
Sasuke tried valiantly to ignore Naruto’s snickers as he adjusted himself as discreetly as he could—it certainly wasn’t his fault that Sakura had decided to wear white and then get caught in the middle of a monsoon.
“What was she like,” Karin asks him once, when she catches him in a reverie, “the girl you left behind?”
For a moment, Sasuke thought about it, about the life he’d abandoned, the friend he’d almost destroyed, the teacher he’d failed, the girl he’d—
“She was different.”
He stayed up after that brief moment of recollection, ignored Karin’s nightly invitation with a practiced sort of ease, and remembered again, the way her skin felt when he’d carried her to that bench.
“Sakura-chan’s really happy with Fuzzy Brows,” Naruto mused, as he slurped up the last of his ramen, “I bet you’re just trilled that she’s finally leaving you alone, huh, bastard?”
Sasuke checks yes on the RSVP card to Sakura’s wedding to Rock Lee, and makes it a point to arrive just after the priest has asked for any objections—he’d never been very good at resisting her kind of temptation, and he owes her that much, at least.
“Sakura,” he said roughly, ink-black marks spreading like a growing cancer, eyes widening with fury at the black-and-blue on her pale skin, “who the hell did that to you?”
“I saw green,” he said later, after he’d woken up to a room filled with white, “I think Sakura might have been there, too.”
She comes with apples, ruby-red whorls that spill against the white linoleum floor, and this time, this time, he does not push her away.
He’d never been very good at being noble—for her though, he tried.
“I don’t love you,” Sasuke lies, and hopes it’s enough to keep her safe—even if she’s unhappy, she’ll still be alive, and that’s really all he allows himself to care about, green eyes be damned.
“Don’t,” she says, tearful, and ragged, and not just a little undone, “don’t walk away from me again.”
He won’t pretend to understand what he means to her—but he won’t make any effort to believe it either.
“You love me for pride’s sake,” he says one day, when he’s feeling particularly vindictive—“You want to fix me, and you want me to thank you for it.”
There’s not enough left in Sasuke to love anyone, and especially not Sakura—not in the way that she deserves—but she’s selfish enough to want him, and he finds himself unable to argue against the brightness in her eyes.
They make love in increments, and always in the dark, so he can—if only for a moment—forget the burden of being himself.
Stay, she says, looking up at him with mussed candy-floss hair, and eyes so green that Sasuke has to turn away—not yet, Sakura, he thinks, promises, hopes, not yet.
“Come back to me,” she says, simply because she’s tired of asking, “when you finally get tired of running away.”