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Lassitude

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Her heels click against the wood floor as she wobbles to the dingy table. It smells like cooking grease. She giggles softly to herself, "Mmm...food."

A man sits across from her. He starts to speak "Sakura," But she can’t handle this right now. She has to leave. She interrupts him saying, "I'm going to the bathroom."

He sighs. While he waits for her, a waiter stops by. "Should I wait for your…?"

"No, it's fine.” The man requests some House Sake, warmed. The waiter leaves. The woman returns.

They're both tired. Has it really been so long since the war? Since he decided to leave the village again? She still acts like her younger self around him, hopeless and desperate. He feels resigned, accepting of the situation they’ve created. They could both be so much more, so much better. Yet here they are, stress lines and all, two people joined together out of a sickly need for companionship.

"Sakura..." the man starts again. She exhales loudly. Here it comes. The accusation, "You're drunk aren't you?" She denies it, sort of.

"I just want to go home.” And she does, she really does. This isn’t what she dreamed of and this isn’t what she hoped to make. Sasuke’s not fixed nor whole. She can’t fill in the cracks and he never even bothered to see her. He growls back something insulting and sighs. Sakura brings herself to pay attention to what he’s saying again. Oh, he’s stopped. She asks him “will you ever come home?” but the question she really wants to ask remains silent, unable to come out: will I ever be your home?

He responds that tonight is not the time. It is though. She insists! He refuses. "You're drunk. No."

She stamps her heels against the feet of the table, careful to avoid sending chakra into the ground. "No, I'm not!"

Sasuke rests his head on his hands. "We're going to do this or die trying aren't we?"

She sighs. "I just want to go home."

He nods his head. "I know. But you're drunk. We can't do this now." As always, she lets it be.

"I know." It’s not the drunkenness that’s the problem. Sakura is the world’s greatest medic. She can purge the alcohol if she wanted, just like Tsunade could’ve if she wanted. Sasuke is frustrated with her, she knows it. She’s only ever going to be annoying to him, isn’t she?

Sasuke is frustrated with Sakura. He never asked her to love him, to follow him, to incessantly pursue him. He knows that she doesn’t want this, she deserves to be happy in Leaf with the rest of her family and friends. “What will it take to get you to leave me?” He asks quietly.

Sakura looks up at him, eyes rimmed-red and blank “Why would I ever leave you? I love Sasuke. I love you, Sasuke.”

Sasuke thinks she loves the idea of him, a boy he barely was and a man he can never be. He cares for her, yes, and will protect her but that isn’t the love she wants from him. “What will it take to get you to stop drinking? When will you stop doing this to yourself?” He knows the answer. She won’t. Not unless an outside force makes her and there is no greater antagonist than her own self. With her political connections, brute strength, and her renowned medical prowess Sakura could change the ninja world. However, one thing she wants is something she can’t truly have.

She doesn't reply. The waiter returns with the warmed sake. "Are you two ready.?"

Sasuke answers for them, "We've had a long day" and Sakura sways her head in agreement.

"So you want some more time to decide?" confirms the waiter.

Sasuke decides that enough is enough. He orders for both of them, “We’ll have the fish of the day.” The waiter leaves and Sakura remembers to breathe again.

"We're going to do this or die trying" Sakura reaches across the table to caress Sasuke’s face. The kunoichi moves to kiss him, taking control of the situation for a moment. He lets her, sitting passively as she tries to provoke a response from him. Sakura knows that nice girls don’t do things like this but she had to do something even if public displays of affection are lewd and uncouth! She just wants him to understand. Why can’t he feel what she’s trying to explain?

Sasuke moves away after a moment, pushing her back towards her seat. The pair say nothing, letting silence settle between them. The waiter returns. "Here's your miso to start"

Sakura gives them one of her best smiles, "I can't wait to try it!" The waiter offers a tight-lipped smile and leaves.

Sasuke takes the opportunity to speak again. “Must everything be so extreme?"

Sakura ignores him, sipping the warm soup and appreciating the soothing flavors of dashi and red miso. He waits, knowing she won’t stay silent for long.

She sniffs. "It's surreal you know? I never expected this when I dreamed about our future. But clearly dreams never match up. It's always my fault, isn’t it?” Sasuke isn’t that great at emotions beyond anger, regret, and irritation. Even with that, he knows that how he responds to this question matters. It isn’t her fault, at least not entirely. It’s not his fault either. He opens his mouth to explain but Sakura stops him.

"No. No more excuses. I'm done. Eat your miso. The sake goes well with it. Eat up. Drink the sake because we all know you’ll be snappy if I try to drink another sip of it." She waves her hand and pushes the sake closer to him.

He sighs. She sighs. They spend the rest of the meal in silence. Sakura offers to cover the bill but Sasuke insists that he pay instead. They leave. As they step outside the pair notices how the sun has started to set. The sky is tinged blood red, vibrant hues across the horizon. Sasuke shivers slightly, remembering the horrors that came with red skies. Sakura pulls him close, regulating her chakra to cover them both in a gentle caress.

The evening sky drips down from painful red to darker violet hues. As the pair walk towards their resting place for the evening, the sky confronts their senses in a way that they have yet to use towards each other. She’s still drunk and he’s still at war with himself and the world that destroyed his childhood. Nothing was resolved tonight and the pair separately wonder if things ever will be resolved, if there even is a happy ending. Knowing them, it probably won’t.

They lie down to sleep and Sasuke turns away from Sakura, eager to avoid further interaction. Sakura stares at the ceiling, trying to will her tears away before she too drifts to sleep.