Author's Note: One of the many, many headcanons floating around my head right now. I seriously cannot believe Naruto is ending next week. I'm not ready for it. But I am ready for my OTPs to be canon. And I hope Kishimoto is not trolling us with all of the NaruHina hints for the new movie. I'll be heartbroken. Anyhow, I was totally surprised by the ending of 698. But it was such a good chapter. And I kind of wanted to do something focusing on Sasuke and Sakura's relationship after the Naruto vs. Sasuke fight. [ONESHOT]

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or its characters, events, or situations. I make no profit off of this work.

The young medic stood outside the doorway, sighing heavily. Her fingers were tightly wrapped around the door's handle as she gathered her courage. She was already fifteen minutes late to the appointment. As a woman who never kept her patients waiting, Sakura found herself frustrated. She was late, and there was no legitimate reason for it.

Only her cowardice and unwillingness to face this patient.

All morning, she'd seen patients without any problems at all. Offered them her kindness and her honest smiles while treating their injuries and reassuring them. She had been professional and sympathetic with everyone, from the young kunoichi visiting for a prenatal check-up, to the genin with a serious back injury that would require surgery at a later date. She loved this job and she was good at it. She treated all of her patients with respect and dignity and was as transparent as possible with them.

This patient shouldn't be any different. She said it to herself over and over again, hoping that saying it would make it so.

'Evaluate his progress. Decide next steps. Send him home.' Done.

But it wasn't that easy. It never was with him. He complicated everything by doing nothing at all.

The last six weeks had been torture for her. After patching him up, she'd known he'd need to come see her again. To make sure everything was going well. She could have requested he be seen by another medic, but that would have raised questions from Naruto, Kakashi-sensei, and Tsunade-sama. She didn't need that. Not at all.

This was her work, her turf, and she wasn't going to be intimidated.

Not by a man who made it his business to tell her she was annoying and useless. No. She had something to prove to Sasuke Uchiha. And she wouldn't back down from this.

"So open the damn door, Sakura." She muttered to herself. Her forehead rested along the cold surface of the door, her eyes were closed as she tried to resolve herself to do what needed to be done.

Breathing in deeply one last time, Sakura shook her head to clear her thoughts. Her bright pink hair was secured in a ponytail and she wore her standard outfit with a white lab coat.

Gripping the door handle, she pushed the door in lightly.

'It's now or never.' Sakura thought as she opened the door. It creaked slightly as she walked inside. Her steps echoed in the quietness of the room as she immediately looked towards the exam table, where her patient was sitting, looking down at his lap, seemingly lost in thought. He was dressed simply, wearing dark blue sandals, a blue t-shirt with the Uchiha crest emblazoned on the front, and grey pants.


She opened her mouth to greet him, trying to inject cheer into her voice that she just didn't feel. Not now.

But he spoke before her.

"You're late, Sakura." He said calmly. He raised his head, turned, and focused his eyes directly on her. He saw her try not to flinch, but she failed. He noticed her slight shiver and the small swallow she took, probably to settle herself.

She was nervous. Good.

In the silence that followed his statement, he took in her appearance. He noted that she looked a little tired, but otherwise no worse for wear. He thought she looked nicely professional in her coat, with her hair in a ponytail, a pencil stuffed behind her ear, and her eyes trained on him. He tried not to stare at the mark on her forehead. It was one piece of her he wasn't quite used to yet. He focused again on her eyes. Bright green and full of life and energy. At least, the way he remembered them. Now, they stared at him, and he saw the guardedness and hesitation that filled them.

And it frustrated him. He continued to stare at her, waiting for her to start. He tried not to notice his own awareness of her. The way his body had both tensed and relaxed upon seeing her. The way his stomach had clenched when she'd stepped into the room or how his heart had fluttered slightly. No, he tried not to notice all of that. Yet, he still stared.

'Why is he staring?' Sakura thought to herself. She was a little unnerved. Apart from his earlier statement, he said nothing. He didn't move. Just watched her and dissected her with those keen and observant eyes of his. She didn't want to know what he was seeing.

She stared back for a few more seconds, before she coughed lightly and cleared her throat.

"Yeah, I'm late. I'm sorry for that Sasuke-kun."

The resulting silence was palpable. Neither of them had missed what she'd called him. As Sakura berated herself for it, Sasuke tamped down on the quickening beat of his heart. Nothing had changed, nothing to be excited about. She always called him that, even when he didn't deserve it.

Now it was his turn to clear his throat.

"It's fine." He murmured quietly, his voice as deep and smooth as Sakura remembered it. Her pulse jumped slightly and she promptly ignored it.

She nodded stiffly and gave him a small smile. He wasn't being antagonistic and he wasn't bringing up the last few weeks, so Sakura relaxed a little bit. Perhaps this appointment wouldn't be so bad after all.

"Let's begin then." She said. She glanced around the small room until she came across the supply cabinets above the sink.

Sakura walked over to the sink area and reached up. She needed some gloves for this, but in the meantime, she asked him some routine questions.

"How are you feeling today, Sasuke-kun?" She asked as she plucked two gloves from the box of plastic gloves. From the small drawer below the sink, she withdrew fresh gauze, bandages, tape, and a small pair of scissors.

"I'm okay." He replied, watching her adorn her gloves.

"Any fever, excessive bleeding, or overall feelings of illness?" She asked clinically, making her way towards him on the exam table.

He shook his head and answered "No. None actually."

Sakura nodded and smiled slightly. "I'm glad. That's a good sign."

She finally glanced at his reason for the appointment. His left arm, or rather, his new left arm. It was covered by the bandages that extended from above his elbow and covered his entire hand.

"Let's see it then." She said while gesturing towards his arm.

Sasuke stretched out his arm for Sakura, noting how she watched him move the limb, studying it. It felt weird to have a different arm than the one he'd been born with, but he supposed this was better than the alternative. It had to be.

Once his arm was outstretched in front of him, Sakura mentally cheered. He was able to move the arm with no problem at all, it seemed.

She lifted her gloved hands from her sides and gently used the scissors to cut away his old bandages. As she placed them to the sides, Sakura observed the skin tone differences in the arm and the rest of Sasuke's skin. The arm was much lighter than his own natural skin color. She wasn't sure it would ever blend either. She looked at the area where she had reattached the arm to his body and saw no telltale signs of rejection or infection. There were no bloodstains or observable marks that gave her any alarm.

Sliding her fingers along his arm, she asked quietly "Can you feel that?" She trailed her fingers back and forth, waiting for his answer.

Sasuke resisted telling her that he could indeed feel 'that' and that it was having a crazy effect on him below the belt. He fidgeted, feeling a slight tightening in his groin.

"Yeah." He answered calmly, despite how he felt. Needing a distraction, he watched Sakura's face as she continued to study his arm. Her brows were furrowed in concentration and she bit lightly into her lower lip as she focused on determining how much sensation Sasuke had in his arm.

"Make a fist for me." She ordered quietly. She removed her hands from his arm and stood next to him, waiting for him to perform the action.

She tried to ignore how his nearness was affecting her. She attributed her quickened heartbeat to her joy over the arm seeming to take to his body, rather than how close they were standing to one another.

Sasuke complied with her order, squeezing his left hand into a fist quite easily. He smiled slightly, realizing that he experienced no issues using the arm. He'd been terrified it wouldn't work.

"That's good Sasuke-kun. That's really good." Sakura said, laughing a bit. Sasuke gave her a questioning glance.

'Why are you laughing?'

She shook her head at him, trying to ignore the feel of tears threatening to spill over. Tears of both sadness and elation.

"I was worried that maybe… maybe it wouldn't take. Thank goodness one of those freaky zetsu were around to give you an arm. I'm glad it seems to be working." She explained happily.

"Hn." Sasuke muttered. He shifted a little on the exam table and then followed up with "The woman who attached it did a pretty good job." His face reddened slightly and he refused to meet Sakura's gaze.

Sakura smiled widely anyway, realizing that he was paying her a compliment, something he'd never done before. She had been the one to replace his arm and it made her happy to see that he recognized her work.

"Did she? Well, I'll be sure to tell her." She joked.

Sasuke smirked and looked at her. She smiled back at him, happy that they could share this small conversation with each other, despite the past weeks.

"So what now?" He asked, having absolutely no clue what was next. He braced both arms on the exam table and watched Sakura as he waited for her directions.

Sakura sighed and folded her arms under her breasts. Sasuke pretended not to notice how that plumped up her breasts.

Sakura thought carefully because although Sasuke had made progress, she didn't want him to overdo things too quickly. Both he and Naruto had suffered a lot of injuries and both were recovering and not allowed to train. Certainly, neither young man was allowed to undertake missions for the village, although with the world still recovering, the village wasn't worrying about those much anyway. So much had happened.

"Well, it's been six weeks since the arm was attached. As far as I can tell, there haven't been any adverse effects and despite the arm's coloring, it seems to be working for you. Have you been using it at all these past few weeks?" She finished. She reached for the arm, massaging it gently, trying to assess the blood flow.

"Uh yeah, I've used it a little, but I don't use my left hand for much outside of fighting and I can't train yet… Soo there's not much to be done." Sasuke explained. He watched as Sakura tested the blood flow in his arm. She appeared pleased by what she saw.

Sakura nodded in understanding. "Yeah, I've only really seen you use your left arm for chidori and hand signs. And since you are not cleared for training, haven't been doing any of that, right?" She finished sternly.

Sasuke sighed and replied "No, no training. But I've been using my arm to open cans of food and things and get dressed and I haven't had any issues."

Sakura added "Your blood flow looks good too. Doesn't seem to be any issues with that either."

Sakura stepped back and placed her hands on her hips and gave Sasuke an assessing look. "All in all, Sasuke-kun, I'd say your arm, and you, are going to be fine."

Sasuke stood and faced Sakura. "So can I start training then?" He asked her eagerly.

Sakura bit her lip and thought about his request. It wasn't unreasonable, but she wanted to be sure his arm was fully functional before she allowed him to do heavy training.

So she shook her head slightly and answered "Let's give it another week, okay? I just want to be fully sure about it before I give you the go ahead. So let me bandage your arm and I'll set up the next appointment."

Sasuke deflated a little bit, and sighed before sitting back down and extending his arm out. "Fine. Another week. Will you be doing the follow up appointment, then?" He asked, looking at her pensively.

Sakura took the fresh bandages and began unraveling them. 'Was it still former?' She thought to herself as she painstakingly wrapped the bandages around his arm. She taped the bandages down smoothly before lightly tapping his arm.

"Your arm's all set. And yeah, I'll be doing that appointment too. Make sure to stop by the nurse's station before you leave today and find out when it is, okay? And you can probably take off the bandages when you're ready. I only put them back on in case you're uncomfortable about the color difference. So. I'll see you next week sometime." Sakura said. She turned to dispose of her gloves and place everything back in its place.

Silence descended as Sasuke watched Sakura get ready to leave.

'So she's not going to bring it up, then. Fine. Neither will I.' Sasuke thought angrily.

Sakura thought she felt Sasuke watching her and became more unnerved by the second. She needed to get out of there. With the appointment done, she couldn't stand to be in the same room as Sasuke without thinking back to six weeks ago. It was killing her and she needed to retreat. She'd seen enough of Sasuke for the day. And despite pep talks from both Naruto and Kakashi-sensei, she couldn't face him anymore. It hurt too much. He hurt her too much.

Tears filled her eyes and her palms grew sweaty as she thought about their last interaction, one that was had out of necessity not desire. She was barely controlling herself and needed to be done. So she rushed a bit.

After cleaning up, Sakura took a deep breath and pasted a smile on her face before turning around. She didn't want him to see her turmoil.

Avoiding Sasuke's gaze, she started to walk towards the door, feeling Sasuke's burning gaze on her back.

"See you next week Sasuke-ku—"

"You're avoiding me Sakura." Sasuke interrupted.

He felt angry and hostile, though much of that was aimed at himself for bringing it up. He had told himself he wouldn't. But he couldn't go on like this. And neither could she. He wasn't blind. He knew this was hurting her, and if he had to be honest, it was hurting him too. Sasuke was mending fences all around the village, mostly notably those between him and his comrades, even some of the other Konoha 11 that he'd previously ignored, but he found himself missing Sakura and simultaneously avoiding her as he realized she wasn't seeking him out either. He knew that she met with Naruto, Sai, and Kakashi on a regular basis, but she made herself scarce when those meetings included him. And somehow, that hurt more than anything. Her active avoidance.

He hadn't expected it, and it bothered him more than he liked to admit.

'I said I wouldn't, but we can't keep doing this. I live here now, and she…' Sasuke trailed off, not wanting to think further until Sakura acknowledged what he had said.

Sakura stopped walking, hearing the angry accusation that Sasuke hurled at her. She swallowed tightly and turned to face Sasuke.

'Guess I had this coming. Let's hear it then.' She thought to herself as she turned.

She let out a gasp and jumped back against the door as she came face-to-face with his chest. Instead of respecting the distance she'd placed between them, Sasuke marched towards her, and stepped directly in front of her. Sakura felt him move closer and stared at the floor as Sasuke stared at her. He was so close, she could feel the warmth of his body heat.

"Sakura, look at me." He demanded harshly.

When Sakura refused to comply, he used his left arm to force her chin up. Holding her chin in his bandaged hand, he stared into her familiar green orbs as she stared fearfully at him. The fear made his stomach clench. He didn't plan to hurt her. And he didn't want her afraid of him.

In a softer voice, meant to soothe her, he said it again. "You're avoiding me, Sakura."

Sakura let out a breathy sigh and stared into her former teammate's dark eyes. In them she saw confusion, hurt, and annoyance. That confused her. Why should he feel any of those things? He made it clear that unlike Naruto, she meant nothing to him.

"Yeah… I am." She admitted lamely.

Sasuke released her face, and stepped back from her. He shook his head, not understanding why Sakura would avoid him. Sakura's brows were furrowed again as she fought to understand why Sasuke was doing this. Why he was bringing up all of this?

"Why?" He gritted out through clenched teeth.

Sakura's eyes narrowed at the question. "Why?" She repeated incredulously. "You know why, Sasuke-kun. You have to know." She told him. She shook her head in disbelief, not believing that he was pretending to not understand her. How dare he? He didn't get to play innocent in all of this. He was the main problem. And it was time for him to know.

Sasuke crossed his arms expectantly, waiting for her to explain. He knew he was being unfair. He did know why, but in an odd way, he needed to her say it.

"I was avoiding you because you hurt me. Six weeks ago, when you and Naruto laid there bleeding to death on that ground in that damn valley, all I could think of was how devastated I'd be if either of you died. Naruto is my best friend, but you, you are so much more than that. You always were and you don't deserve it." She started.

"Sakura…" Sasuke started, reaching out his hand to the young medic. Sakura shook her head.

"No. Let me finish. You wanted to know why. Well, now you will. All of it. I loved you. I felt all of your pain and I wanted to take your burden because it hurt me to see what you were going through. And I healed your damn arm. And you came back here, to this village, and you talk to Naruto and to Kakashi-sensei, hell even Sai, yet you don't talk to me Sasuke-kun. You've never acknowledged me. Never acknowledged anything you did to me. After everything we went through as a team, I got nothing. You put me in a genjutsu, you tried to kill me, you ignored my feelings for you, and that hurt so much. But I loved you anyway! And not once, not ever, have you had the decency to admit what you did was wrong. Since you've been back, not once have you offered me an explanation or an apology. How am I supposed to feel? How was I supposed meet with you at these bullshit team meetings and pretend that it doesn't hurt. Pretend that I don't love you? Pretend that I know I don't mean anything to you? You're here now. It's not like you're not around and easier to push the back of my mind. No. I have to walk around this village every damn day and watch my friends treat me like a ticking bomb because they know I haven't fully reacted to you being back. Watch my master doubt my mental capacity simply because you're here. It hurts."

"Sakura, I—" Sasuke attempted to interrupt. He didn't want to hear anymore or see her face. She was turning red and her eyes were filled with tears. He could feel the pain she was expressing and his heart hurt. Because he didn't want her to feel this way. He cared too much and she needed to know that. Had to understand that.

'Don't cry, Sakura. Whatever you do, don't cry." This was the inner mantra that Sakura kept repeating to herself but she felt herself exploding as she continued her speech.

"I said let me finish. I understand that Naruto and you are close. I understand that you're like brothers. I understand that more than anyone else in the world, he knew what you were going through. I un-der-stand. What I don't…. what I don't understand Sasuke-kun is why I don't matter. Why my feelings aren't enough. Why you don't feel like you at least owe me an apology. I was a part of Team 7. I hurt for you too. Not just Naruto. Why didn't I matter? All I wanted was for us to all be together again. And now you're back and we're more apart than ever. There's a chasm between us and I don't know how to fix it. I don't think I can fix it. Because I can't stop loving you and I can't make you explain anything to me… And for the record, I'm not the only one that's been avoiding people. You've been avoiding me too. So don't push this all on m-me. I deserve better than that at least." Sakura finished on a low sob.

Tears were flowing freely down her face now, her shoulders shaking as sobs wracked her small frame. Not wanting him to see her crying, Sakura covered her eyes with her hands and sank to the floor, pulling her knees tightly into her body.

'Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.' Sakura thought to herself. She hadn't meant to lose control like this. Once again, she had made herself vulnerable to him. But she couldn't stop the tears. Once she had let it out, it would be a long time before she stopped.

Sasuke stood above Sakura feeling like the biggest ass in the world. She was crying because of him. Again. Because he couldn't, wouldn't, be honest with her. His fists clenched at his sides as he considered the best approach to take.

He decided to just be honest with her. For once.

Walking forward, he crouched down until he was right in front of her, his hands resting on his bent knees.

"Sakura, look at me." He said quietly.

Sakura ignored him, her sobs echoing in the quiet exam room. The Uchiha sighed inwardly. He wasn't getting through. All this pain she'd been holding in all this time, and she was letting it go now. He tried again anyway.

"Sakura, look at me please." Sasuke pleaded but she continued to cry, ignoring him.

Sasuke hesitated. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to touch her. To pull her hands way from her face and make her listen to him. But he was afraid she'd lash out.

But he tried anyway. He slowly stretched his hands forward until he was touching her. He felt her tremble as he slowly wrapped his hands around her wrists and gently pulled them away from her face and to his chest. Her sobs subsided but tears continued to stream down her face.

"Listen to me." Sasuke said, looking into her eyes. Trying to make her feel what he would probably never adequately say.

She sniffled and focused on his face, her eyes searching his as he started talking.

"You have never not mattered, Sakura. Never. All those times I called you annoying and pretended not to care about you. That's all it was. Pretend. When I was gone from Konoha, I missed Naruto, and I missed Kakashi, but I missed you too."

Sakura began to shake her head, her tears drying on her face, leaving her eyes red.

"Don't lie to me Sasuke-kun. You haven't said a word to me in six weeks." Sakura croaked out.

"Because I didn't know what to say. Six weeks ago, when I finally gave up on my loneliness, I thought about you. About how you said you loved me. And about how it felt to have someone, two people, love me. For the first time in years, I wasn't running away from people. And I wasn't trying to avoid how they make me feel. It was easier with Naruto. But it wasn't easy with you. That day, I watched you cry and do your best to save two people who had nearly killed each other. I watched you save me, a man who had tried to kill you in the past. And I felt this crushing guilt. Sakura, I avoided you because I didn't know how to talk to you. What to say. Or what to do. Because as much as I rejected your confessions of love for me, they didn't go unnoticed. They weren't completely tossed aside. Both times you confessed to me, I shook because of how much your feelings affected me. You had no idea, but I treasured those feelings from you, even though I did everything in my power to make you hate me. I showed you a mental image of me stabbing you in the chest and damn it, you still love me. How could I possibly make up for that? I didn't think I could. So I did what I thought was best. I avoided you. And now I realize how much that has cost both of us."

Sakura gasped lightly. "Sasuke-kun?" She questioned. She leaned closer to him, feeling her heart quicken as she listened to his words.

"You don't get it Sakura. My rejecting your feelings wasn't about what I didn't feel for you. It was about what I couldn't allow myself to feel for you. I was trying to plunge myself into darkness and I couldn't allow myself to love you back, even if I did. It—"

"W-what?" Sakura whispered, shocked by his statement. She pushed herself even closer into Sasuke's space as gripped her wrists tighter. She was sitting in between his knees with her elbows resting on his bent knees as he continued to talk. She continued to stare up at him, realizing that this was a pivotal moment he needed to work through.

'Did he just say he loved me?' Sakura thought to herself.

Sasuke smiled, realizing she had caught on to what he said. He stood, bringing the pink haired young woman with him. Her hands rested against his chest as he wrapped his arms around her slim waist and anchored her to him. Sakura hadn't noticed the changes as she was too busy listening to Sasuke to care about any movement.

"Y-you loved me?" Sakura asked in a curious and light voice, her face lifted to stare at Sasuke. Her heart was pounding and she was so close to Sasuke, she was sure he could feel it too.

"I did. But I couldn't tell you that, Sakura. Understand me. I had a goal I wanted to accomplish that required utter aloneness. I couldn't have you be part of that. You would have weakened me. So no matter how much it hurt me to hurt you, I couldn't return your feelings before. So I tried to make you hate me inste—"

"You could never do that. Make me hate you." Sakura whispered, pushing herself up on her toes to rest her face in his neck while clutching the front of his shirt.

Sasuke squeezed his arms tighter around Sakura's waist and inhaled the scent of her hair. She smelled like fresh vanilla and he found himself burying his nose in her hair just to keep that smell close to his heart.

Smiling he said "I know that. But it's true Sakura. I do love you. No matter how hard it was for me to say it to you. No matter how I've been avoiding you, I do love you. I just didn't know what to say to you. But I know now. I'm sorry for everything, Sakura. I'm sorry." He finished in a harsh whisper, burying the rest of his face in her hair.

Sakura cried a little, her tears sliding against his neck as she exhaled her breath against his neck. Needing to be closer she wrapped her arms around him and squeezed.

Sasuke responded by gathering her closer to his chest and wrapping his arms around her tightly. Just rocking her gently against his shaking form.

Words weren't necessary now. Their embrace was enough for the moment.

After a few moments, Sakura breathed deeply. She once again placed her hands against Sasuke's chest and peered up at him through shiny green eyes. He stared down at her, waiting for her to say something.

She laughed and sniffed.

"It shouldn't be this easy for you, you know. I shouldn't forgive you." She told him, smiling.

Sasuke smiled back at her, realizing that she was indeed forgiving him despite her words.

"You do forgive me though, because you love me. The same way I love you." He told her.

Sakura clenched his shirt in her fists and said "Yeah, well, guess it can't be helped, Sasuke-kun."

The pair continued to smile at each other until Sakura cleared her throat and asked "Where do we go from here?"

Sasuke closed his eyes and thought about his answer.

"For now, we stop avoiding each other. And we tell the truth, no matter what. I love you, Sakura." He said.

He began to lower his head as he tilted her chin up. His intention was obviously to kiss her. Sakura was thrilled and dug her fingers into his chest as he brought his head down to hers.

Her heart beat rapidly and just as his lips touched hers, she whispered to him,

"I love you too, Sasuke-kun."

And that's it! I'm sorry if the ending is a little lame. But this is something I wanted to get out while I had the passion for it. This story is intended to be a ONESHOT. I truly hope you enjoyed it. Please read and review if you did!

SECOND NOTE: A couple of readers have brought Sasuke's handedness to my attention, mentioning that he is left-handed. From all accounts that I have noticed, if anything, I would characterize Sasuke as ambidextrous rather than left-handed. In both the manga and the anime, Sasuke uses his right hand for his projectile weapons, sword use, eating, writing, and so forth. I have only truly seen Sasuke use his left hand for the chidori. With that being said, I've changed the language a little bit so it's more ambiguous as to whether Sasuke is right or left-handed and the readers can decide for themselves. Hope this helps!