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[Fic]: Milestones [Jul. 23rd, 2011|02:36 am]
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[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[Current Music |Nothing Else Matters - Metallica]

Title: Milestones
Summary: Sakura is two-and-twenty and still doesn't know who Sasuke is. But she can still try.
Disclaimer: Disclaimed.
Theme: Post-canon
Prompt: Warmth
Medium: Fanficiton
Genre: General/Friendship
Rating: K+
Warning(s): Present tense? Sasuke's pale wrists?
Comments: Late submission is extremely late. This is the shortest thing I've written to date and I'm surprisingly happy with it. I spent a ridiculous amount of time making sure Sasuke came off pretty. I hope I've succeeded? :D

Much love to Astronauts for her warm, encouraging words and to danikos_realms for her extremely quick, thorough, and efficient beta work. You guys are lovely.



Winter in Konoha is a cold, unforgiving season. The wind whistles an untamed tune and ice adorns the boughs of trees; snow crunches under people’s feet as if it were broken glass. Cracks burst across the carved faces on the Hokage monument. Noses redden. Teeth chatter. Color gains a new meaning. Under the neon streetlights, couples exchange warm, foggy breaths.

It’s a little past seven, when Sakura ducks her way into Ichiraku, grateful for the lanterns hanging from the wooden beam above her head. It’s empty, except for a single man.

The first thing she notices about him is the traditional haori and hakama he’s wearing. It’s expensive — black, red and gold — and the colours look severe and out of place in Ichiraku’s homely setting.

It suits him a bit too well. Sasuke doesn’t look his age; maybe he never did.

Sakura stops short upon seeing the wide red arc of the uchiwa against his back; she remembers why he is wearing the ludicrously formal attire in the first place.

She never understood the rigid clan traditions very well — it’s one of those things she’ll never understand, with her plebeian background — but she knows it’s customary for clan leaders to be present at the Snow Festival. Sasuke is supposed to be there, too, later tonight, by the Hokage’s side.

“Where’s Naruto?” she asks anxiously, and immediately regrets it. She presses her lips together and clamps her tongue between her teeth. She doesn’t want him to think his company is unwanted, but she has also never been a very good liar and the truth is this: without Naruto around, Sakura feels a little lost around the one person who has ever really mattered.

Sasuke’s the constant around which Sakura and Naruto both have woven their lives, for so long now, thread after inconsequential thread. Ten years the three of them have grown up, but it feels like it’s still Naruto, who doesn’t seem to have grown up at all, that is millennia ahead of her in all the ways that matter.

Sakura is two-and-twenty, and she still doesn’t know who Uchiha Sasuke is.

Is it because she stopped caring? She looks down, scrapes her boot across the pavement under the pretense of dislodging crushed snow, counts the heartbeats in his silence, until he answers. “He won’t be long,” Sasuke says, unconcerned.

He casts a long sideways look in her direction, from under mildly lowered eyelashes, then sighs. He nods towards the eastern square of the village, where the mountains are giant black tents against the night-sky and the festival lights drift about like thoughts on rainy evenings.

Sasuke, then, lifts the small sencha cup in his hand and takes a calm sip of his tea, a gesture so naturally elegant that it startles her out of her reverie. His long sleeve slides shyly down to reveal white skin, drawn taut over bone and blue webs, beautiful against the golden trim of his haori, and Sakura’s mouth goes dry.

Sakura looks east, too. The skyline is a grimace. The night is quiet, but if she concentrates hard enough, she can hear the roll and ebb of traditional music in the distance. She wonders if Naruto is somewhere over there now, standing over a raised dais, swathed in laughter and melody, radiant and fierce against the stark monochrome of the season.

“His speech was supposed to have ended an hour ago,” she murmurs, annoyed. The cold pricks uncomfortably at her eyes, when a rush of wind dances around the entryway, and she draws her coat closer around herself. “To think I just ran all the way here from the hospital…”

“He’s probably been swallowed by a mob again.” Sasuke looks vaguely pleased by the idea — she can never tell.

“Probably,” she agrees, anyway, smiling reluctantly despite herself. This — Naruto —they can agree on.

For a moment afterwards, neither of them knows exactly what to do. Sasuke seems content to not-quite avoid her eyes, and pretend nothing’s wrong. Above them, the burnt light shimmers from paper lanterns, settles on her head like a faint cajoling pressure, and suddenly she isn’t grateful for its warmth anymore.

Two steps and she would be by his side, close enough to touch. She tries to direct her thoughts elsewhere, but can think of nothing but the space, and how much she would like to have it now, but not between them. This is what she is increasingly aware of: between them, distance is a variable, dependent only on time and her own perception of it. Today, it adopts a larger value than usual.

“Are you just going to stand there?” he asks after a lazy, measured beat, his gaze already drawn back to the green-tinted liquid swirling restlessly inside his cup.

Sakura figures that’s as much of an invitation as she’s likely to get from him. Exhaling, she takes a seat next to him, before she can convince herself to do otherwise. Sakura is two-and-twenty, and still doesn’t know who Sasuke is. But she can still try.

“No, I wasn’t planning on leaving either.”
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: 000_hester_000
2011-07-23 01:00 am (UTC)
Oh man, why do you do stuff like this to me? Every time I read one of your fics, the first thing I think is that you really make me like every single member of Team 7. Whereas I usually feel annoyed by each one of them by turns....

Sakura is two-and-twenty, and still doesn’t know who Sasuke is. But she can still try.

Of course I love this, because really, Sasuke would have to be terribly difficult person to get to know, even for someone who's spent a lot of time around him. I keep thinking about how he can be so up-front and yet so closed-off at the same time.

Also, baaaaaaw you made me remember how much I want Sasuke to come home and be... non-insane again. D:
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-07-25 05:57 am (UTC)
you really make me like every single member of Team 7 - hester, my life is comlpleeeeeete! 8D

ha, yes! Sasuke would be a very hard person to get to know, even if you've 'known' him for over a decade. But I like that... Sakura keeps trying, even if her conviction, unlike Naruto's, falters from time to time.

I keep thinking about how he can be so up-front and yet so closed-off at the same time. - GAH. That boy gives off so many mixed signals, it's not even funny. >8(

;_; Sasukeeee~ Come home already, douchebag. Naruto and Sakura re waiting for you with whips and chains and sexy love. We all are! ♥

Thank you so much for reading, hester! You have no idea how happy that makes meeee~ /floats with joy
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[User Picture]From: 000_hester_000
2011-07-29 03:52 am (UTC)
I'm glad I can complete your life!

;_; Sasukeeee~ Come home already, douchebag. Naruto and Sakura re waiting for you with whips and chains and sexy love. We all are! ♥

There was absolutely no need to cross out the whips and chains and sexy love. I do hope Sasuke's in the mood for sexy love when he finally comes back, because. THAT IS WHAT MUST HAPPEN. SEXY LOVE IS THE ONLY WAY THE NINJAVERSE CAN EVER BE MADE RIGHT AGAIN AFTER ALL THE WEIRD STUFF THAT'S HAPPENED.
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[User Picture]From: cutecrazyice
2011-07-23 05:12 am (UTC)
Indira! ♥ Will you allow me to flail on this page for a whole day and never shoo me away? :D This is pretty amazing. I love how you wrote Sakura.
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-07-25 06:01 am (UTC)
Christiiiine! I'm so happy you read this. You flailing over this makes me want to flail at you. *FLAILS FOREVER* I'm glad you like Sakura in this - I actually think her characterization came off very... well, it could've been better, but I fail at life, SO. /shrugs Also, what're you doing for SSM? I can't believe it's almost over. ;__;
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[User Picture]From: cutecrazyice
2011-07-26 11:36 am (UTC)
Oh, no, what are you talking about? THIS IS ALREADY AWESOME, kay? :D

I'm doing birthday last - super late. XD You?
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-08-07 08:14 pm (UTC)
If you say so, Chris~ I trust your judgment<33 (I'm downloading True Blood now, btw~ Now, to find Game of Thrones torrents...)

Also, I just realized that SSM is over already and I defaulted for the 5th-ish week. :( Worse, I haven't read your birthday fic yet. @_@ Link me? I'm a bit... lost, wading through SO MUCH AMAZING on the comm. ^__^;;
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[User Picture]From: cutecrazyice
2011-08-08 07:58 am (UTC)
(How many episodes have you dloaded? I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOUUUUU)

GASP. You want to read my fic? I...I LOVE YOU. ♥

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7231024/1/The_Perfect_Man

Are you still doing the prompt, anyway? As late? *begging, irresistible puppy eyes*
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[User Picture]From: sirona_gs
2011-07-23 05:33 am (UTC)
;______; HOW. WHAT. HOW. HOW ARE YOU LIKE THIS, HOW ARE THESE WORDS SO UNBELIEVABLY POIGNANT, TOUCHING. Beautiful, especially the idea that both Sakura and Naruto have woven their lives around Sasuke, the one constant, and that he's back, finally, and that him being back isn't immediately the answer to everything. God, I miss this fandom. I miss knowing the character voices, hearing them so clearly, just like you obviously do.

Oh crap, clearly I'm in a rambling mood, I'll shut up now. <3
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[User Picture]From: seedlessbanana
2011-07-23 02:01 pm (UTC)
very nice. you have a way with words that enables you to paint a good picture of future the of team 7.
and the subtle sasusaku is love <3
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-07-25 06:18 am (UTC)
Hiii~ Thank you so much! My version of Team 7's future doesn't include any heartfelt bromance or anguished love confessions, or general stupidity on Sasuke's part, but I'm glad you like it anyway. 8D

Hee~ Sasusaku is always subtle. The pairing invented subtle, so I don't have much choice about writing them any other way. that, and I can't really see them confessing in so many words, so... XD
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[User Picture]From: rosalui
2011-07-23 02:39 pm (UTC)
This was beautiful! Exactly what I needed. :')

And Sasuke's wrist is like a Victorian lady's ankle. :D
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-07-25 06:24 am (UTC)
Ahaha, thank you. :') I can cry fountains of joy now, I think.

AND SASUKE'S WRIST. NNNGGH. ♥
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[User Picture]From: wind_hover
2011-07-24 12:37 pm (UTC)
Sasuke sounds ridiculously pretty. And:
This is what she is increasingly aware of: between them, distance is a variable, dependent only on time and her own perception of it. Today, it adopts a larger value than usual.
This line is beautiful.
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-07-25 06:31 am (UTC)
Sasuke sounds ridiculously pretty. - AAAA. That's so good to know, especially after I stressed about it for hours, like, "Is his wrist supposed to slender? No, no... he's a guy. Yeah, must remember that. But that doesn't mean it can't be... fine-boned. And snow-white pale. 8D"

That line was written after stressing about Core Maths 4, so, idk. Glad you like it anyway. XD Thank you so much for your comment!
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[User Picture]From: hungrytiger11
2011-07-24 01:57 pm (UTC)
This is gorgeous. I've always liked your other works too, but in this I can see that you've been gone for a year and in that time have grown as a writer. Its beautiful and lyrical without ever getting distracting. You can feel the tension and emotions of Sakura.

Also, for a girl who has said she's never seen or felt snow, you are remarkably good at describing winter. (though, I'm not sure what the cracks on the monument were about). You were pitch-perfect for most everything. Sakura scraping her boots, the warm breathes exchanged. ANd then there was this gorgeous line:

This is what she is increasingly aware of: between them, distance is a variable, dependent only on time and her own perception of it

Great work.
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-08-08 12:27 am (UTC)
Arghhh. Late reply is late. I'm so sorry ;__;

But, thank you, so much. You have no idea how much this comment means to me, coming from you! It was hard to write in present tense, without sacrificing individual style. I have no idea how much I've grown as a writer in my time away (I wrote next to zero words during that time) but I think my views on certain things have changed a bit (alright, maybe a lot).

I don't know how well that translates into my writing, but I hope, maybe, I'll keep getting better at it. This is... the most optimistic I've felt about my writing in a long time, since thoughts of Write Write Write were more of a... bother than a motivator, when I took time off to study. I couldn't concentrate on that very well this time around. >_>;;

I'll take your word for it, since I've never really felt snow (I did trace the inside of our deep fridge though, once I feel ridiculously happy about that). Ahaha, the cracks. Were partly the fault of studying too much physics - expansion and contraction and everything else glamorous - and partly taken from observation: these small cracks appear on the rocky ground/soil of my dad's hometown when the temperature drops during winter. I figured this out two Eids back, when I visited my hometown~ /totally useless info

Thank you again for review, tiger♥ I'm glad you took the time to notice the small details in this short piece<33
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[User Picture]From: hungrytiger11
2011-08-08 01:33 am (UTC)
Hmmm... Now I will have to check if Mt. Rushmore (mountain with American Presidents faces) ever gets cracks....

And, your welcome!
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[User Picture]From: darklight90
2011-08-10 09:47 am (UTC)
This is a beautiful vignette in its understated elegance and implications. I think that matches well with your version of an older, wiser (perhaps sadder?) Sasuke and Sakura. I like the maturity in their interactions and their link via Naruto. Very sweet and touching.

Also, the circumspection of Sakura's thoughts on not knowing enough about Sasuke finally ending in her wanting to, despite her years, is a nice way to finish. Great work :)
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-08-14 01:12 am (UTC)
Ooooh, understated elegance? D8

Thank you!! SO MUCH<3

I'm glad older!Sasuke and older!Sakura came off as mature without being too OOC (ten years from the start of the series is an extremely long time skip). Characterization in this fic is heavily based on bits and pieces taken from personal fanon, so I'm thrilled you like it! <3

their link via Naruto - ahaha, my inner OT3 shipper always lurks not-too-far beneath the surface, it seems. I think, after everything's been resolved and Sakura and Sasuke's personalities mellow out time, Naruto could be the one thing they'll always agree on. I can't imagine team 7 without him, at all. :)

Sakura's thoughts were the central part of this fic, so, it's nice to know I haven't messed that up. Phew. /wipes sweat off brow

Thank you once again for the lovely review. You have no idea how happy reading it made me<3
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[User Picture]From: helike
2011-08-22 06:07 pm (UTC)
Sakura is two-and-twenty, and she still doesn’t know who Uchiha Sasuke is.

The best line ever. It might be that even Sasuke himself doesn't really know whom he is in fact.

It's a really good story :)
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2011-08-29 09:27 pm (UTC)
Ahaha, thank you! It's been a while since I've opened my Inbox, so I was pretty surprised to see this waiting for me~ I think you're right. Sasuke definitely doesn't know who he is beyond his self-given identity of "avenger".

(I like to imagine that the boy will have to go through a lot of, er, "soul-searching", once this psychotic... phase of his passes, but this is shounen, and Kishimoto, so I fear everything will be resolved by the Power of Friendship and Uzumakianity, and there'll be no poignant "soul-searching" to speak of. Sigh.)
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From: new_notebooks
2011-12-12 02:32 pm (UTC)
Youuuuu!
you're under arrest!
damn, it should be illegal to write this good!!
are you seriously human?
I don't know, but you sure are awesome :D
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[User Picture]From: indira14
2012-02-23 03:34 am (UTC)
Okay, okay, my hands are up in the hair, see? No need to get... violent. XD Psst, I'm happy to be accosted for writing something worthy of the slightest praise<3

Thank you for reading! I wasn't too sure about this when I wrote it (I was just getting back into writing after an extended break), but I'm glad you like it! 8D
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