Shizuko watched as Sakura and Kuuga grew closer.
She watched as the smile bloomed across Sakura's face.
She watched as Sakura dreamily brushed out her hair and thought, choking in bitterness, how he hadn't seen her with her hair out, or run his fingers through the silky strands.
Shizuko listened to her best friend gush about him, her eyes so bright and her smile so wide.
She also watched Kuuga when he thought no one saw.
His gaze turned predatory and his hand slipped lower, lower, on her waist.
Possessive, yet uncaring. Sometimes he did see her watching, and he would smile at her, a smile turned twisted with his own misguided thoughts.
She could do nothing but watch.
Nothing but catch Sakura as her image of him fell from it's pedestal and shattered over the previously pure expanse of Sakura's mind. Shards of glass embedded themselves everywhere and Sakura bled.
She bled with pain and her own foolishness.
The belief that people were good and could change.
Part of Shizuko wanted to hold onto it. Part of her wanted it to trickle away so she would never, ever, see her friend like this again.
It was ironic, the detached part of Shizuko thought, that Sakura needed catching when Kuuga was the one which seemed to fly oh-so-high, but she was in deep while Kuuga barely knew the temperature of the water.
It was Shizuko who held her and whispered comfort into her ears while rubbing soothing circles into her back. Shizuko who was there for her when all else crashed and burned.
They were crouched there, in Sakura's own personal waste land. No-mans land, where Shizuko was sure that Sakura felt most alone, unheeding of her presence.
But it didn't matter. Didn't matter that Sakura never quite saw Shizuko. Didn't matter because this was Sakura and she was Shizuko.
(Or perhaps Sakura's tears were misting her glasses lenses)
(Perhaps Sakura didn't notice at all)
They made eye contact, finally. Sakura's eye's seemed to glance off the lenses of her glasses, her eyes, underneath, untouched as fresh snow.
They were obscured after all, while Sakura's were still wide and glassy from the crying. Rimmed with red and standing out in her face, tinted red as well from the sheer emotional exhaustion of crying. Tear tracks shone in trails down her cheeks.
She was beautiful, even now, but it was the kind of beauty Shizuko hated. It was the beauty of shards of glass and cold stars. The beauty of distance and death.
She wiped away the tear tracks, gentle, with the pads of her fingers.
Sakura leaned into Shizuko's hands, like it was the caress she'd wanted to give. Shizuko stilled. Laid the palm of her hand down. Sakura's skin was feverish, but Shizuko's hands were cold. She wasn't sure if it was her coolness of Sakura's heat which melded them together. Gentle fingers through Sakura's hair, peach shampoo, the tightening of fingers in her loose shirt.
She was a life line. Sakura's fingers loosed eventually, because the moment was as short as it was bitter sweet. She was still there, as she always was, but more distant now. Still, Sakura's breath flitted over Shizuko's neck where they were near, her own kind of caress.
A new kind of peace.