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A Great Memory

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Everything was too peaceful and too pink. There wasn't too many people in this place, which pleased him — in fact, it was rare to see people around there. It wasn't a local very visited for any citizens of the Fire Country, mainly because it was just a pathway for travelers and being far from any village, which wasn't a problem to him — 'cause of his Rinnegan.

The place brought peace to his spirit, washed his soul and carried a positive aura that made him forget — even for a few minutes — everything that was connected to suffering. It wasn't an easy place to find, but as he searched for redemption, Sasuke came across the pink environment, and it was easy to tell why he liked it so much.

The color, the smell, the feeling of peace and heartwarming… made him remember her.

Sasuke spent so much time locked in the darkness that he could no longer distinguish emotions that were different from hatred or resentment. After the end of the Great War, with the nations rising again, and with the forgiveness of the Kages, Sasuke felt completely lost. Even with the forgiveness and all the support of Naruto, Kakashi and Sakura, he still didn't feel worthy to stay in the Konoha. Even knowing the whole truth about the massacre, and still blaming the village's politics, Sasuke knew that it was not fair to those who cared for him all his past actions.

He needed to find peace.

...and then, understand his feelings.

Even though he missed her, he knew he wasn't prepared to return to Konoha, he still didn't understand what he felt about everything. And when Sasuke began to understand better his feelings, it was when he decided that he needed to be worthy for a future.

Thinking about the first time he was in this place made him smile. It was that place that made him realize that the annoying girl who declared her love to him years ago meant everything. It was that exactly day that made him decide to return to Konoha — days later — simply to make sure she was still there.

"Could you... wait for me?"

"I'll always be here, Sasuke-kun"

And it was also from that day on that he began to understand his feelings. With each passing day, it seemed that everything he did was to be worthy for her. Sasuke knew that Naruto understood him because they both had a brother bond. Naruto would always be there. Kakashi too. He knew Sakura would always be there, too, but… how long would she wait for him in that way? When Sasuke understood the anguish in his heart whenever he imagined Sakura with another man, that was when he decided to return to Konoha.

His pathway was going as planned.

…so far.

Before Sasuke let the suffering soon dominate his thoughts, grunts close to him drew him from his reverie.

"Sarada," he called, hoping the little girl would say what bothered her.

Realizing that she was holding tightly a cherry blossom trunk, Sasuke knew what she was trying to do. A few weeks ago, Sarada was beginning to try to take her first steps, and whenever she let a try, she used to grumble, which made him smile amusingly — she was picky on herself, showing how similar they were with each other.

"Sarada, come to me," he said hoarsely as he approached to her, stooping down and extending his single hand to her, "Come," he encouraged.

Sarada looked up at him with those big onyx eyes, and stared at him. She tried to drag one of her feet forward, but with the lack of balance, she returned to her original position and didn't let go of the cherry trunk.

"Papa," she mumbled, disappointed with herself.

"Sarada," he called her again in a serious voice, making her pay full attention to his eyes, "Papa will never let you fall, trust me," he said, opening the palm of his hand, calling to her.

Sarada, feeling more secure, closed her eyes and risked a step forward, completely releasing the cherry trunk. When she realized she was still standing up, she looked directly at her father, and with a smirk on her face, she risked another step.

Even before she fell, Sasuke held her.

Ashamed of failing again, Sarada lingered to look at her father, but when she raised her eyes to face him, she saw a warm smile.

"That's my little girl," he said, kissing her forehead, "I don't think your mama would like losing you finally walking by yourself... what do you think of get her, huh?", he asked. Even though she didn't understand what her father was talking, the word "mama" made her smile ear to ear.

"Mama," she replied smiling.

Sasuke took her in his lap, and before using his Rinnegan to return to Konoha, he looked again at Sarada. He knew this was his last day with her, and he wanted to enjoy each second with his family.

Sasuke had no doubts; that was the perfect time to introduce Sakura to his favorite place — and make a great memory of the women he loved most in this life in the place that brought him most peace ever since he discovered it.

A cherry blossom forest.