Hello, and thank you for reading! This is intended to be a small collection of thoughts Sasuke and Sakura have about each other in their time apart, wondering about how the other is doing and how they've grown. Here's the first chapter!

There she was, running into the sun as it crept down from the sky to fall asleep. Her short pink hair bounced behind her, complimenting the rich red and orange heavens. She turned in the field she was standing in to give him a smile that illuminated her entire being. She was as sweet as the petals she was named for. A blonde ball of energy rushed past him to chase after the dear flower, and a silver flash of lightening chuckled from his left. Sakura. Naruto. Kakashi. All there, calling for him.

Suddenly, the sky turned to night. The stars were so bright it was blinding. He was walking slowly, determinedly. And she was calling him. Begging, pleading, sobbing after him. He felt his heartstrings tug, but there was nothing left for him to do. He was powerless. There was only one path in his head, a dark grey path soaked with bloodstains. There the trees were barren, the road desolate, as there was only one real image at the end of the path: the death of his brother. This path would give him the power he so desperately lacked. This path led him to make the choice of knocking the girl out for her own good. Before he did so, he stood behind her for a moment. Her sweet scent and bright soul caused him to see another path appear. This one was bright and warm, blocked by cherry blossom trees so that nothing was clear. It was shrouded in the unknown with no indication of what was to come or how life would turn out. But there was sunshine, flowers, and a beautiful feeling that he couldn't name. After a split second of longing, he felt himself be tugged back to the grey path by force. He felt the pain sear in his neck, but he paid it no mind. Then he thanked her for giving him a glimpse of the path that he could have had. Before she knew it, darkness had fallen upon her. He caught her and cradled him in his arms before laying her down gently on the stone bench. He watched as the flower's chest rose and fell, tears streaming down her face. The pain in his neck became more and more severe as he watched her until finally it consumed him. He could no longer stare at her and be reminded of what could be. He turned away and walked further and further down the gray path, the pain growing with each step.

He continued walking until the scenery changed, and he was suddenly standing on water. He stared down to see the golden sun lying, unconscious. He knew that it was time to take out this boy, this brother of his. He could not do it, however. Once again, he was held back by some unknown force. Instead of changing paths, however, it only led him to become numb to the path he was on. He turned and walked away, leaving the sun behind this time.

The sun, the flower, and even the lightning flashed through his mind. "Why did you leave?" They asked him. "How could you do this to us?" Their voices pierced through him, causing him anguish and panic. "Why, Sasuke? Sasuke? Sasuke? SASUKE?"

Uchiha Sasuke awoke in a cold sweat, his body twisted with his sole blanket laying on the floor below him. He gasped for air, his lungs starved for sweet oxygen. He pulled himself into a sitting position, inhaling and exhaling slowly with his head in his hands. When he finally felt the anxiety trickle away, he felt even more exhausted then he had before he went to bed.

It had been so long since he'd had a nightmare like that. When he first abandoned Konoha, they had come frequently. As time had passed, Sasuke had grown colder, more determined, and more powerful. The nightmares became less frequent until they were almost nonexistent. Sasuke trained his mind to focus on one thing: revenge. His sleep became cold and unfeeling, just as he did.

Sasuke had not been prepared to see his old teammates the day before. Seeing Naruto and Sakura in Orochimaru's fortress, eyes wide and souls bared had shaken him to his core. Though he had been taken aback, it wasn't until the reappearance of a familiar nightmare that had led Sasuke to fully understand how much it had changed him. He found himself asking question after question that he had no answers to. For some reason, however, the ones that stuck out the most in his mind were his questions about Sakura. He knew what he needed to about Naruto from speaking with the nine tailes; Sakura, however, was a total mystery. Who had she become? What were her strengths? Her weaknesses?

These thoughts continued to plague Sasuke for days. He trained harder, faster, and more dexterously in an attempt to combat these thoughts. At the end of the third day, Orochimaru had deemed it necessary to sit with Sasuke at dinner instead of eating in his own lab like normal.

"You seem rather distraught, Sasuke-kun," the snake man hissed. "Perhaps it was meeting your former teammates?"

Sasuke maintained his cold demeanor, not even flinching. "I don't know what you're talking about." The Uchiha continued to eat his rice, paying no heed to his sensei.

A few moments of silence passed before Orochimaru chuckled. "I know you Sasuke. I know how weak your heart is towards those fools. Perhaps you would like to join them again?"

Sasuke felt the urge to clench his fist, to stand and throw his chair at Orochimaru and then light him on fire. But, he did not. Instead, the Uchiha maintained his perfect control, not even flinching as he said "Naruto is far too weak to consider working with him, even if I were inclined to do so. There is only one fight I want to fight." Sasuke then rose and left the dining room to relieve some of his anger with intense training.

Sasuke was walking back to his room from his training when he heard Kabuto speaking in a hushed tone from Orochimaru's private lab. He continued walking, only to stop at the mention of an all too familiar name.

"It seems Haruno Sakura is actually the one responsible for Sasori's downfall, along with the late Granny Chiyo," Sasuke felt his fa├žade break to reveal shock and disbelief. Sakura had taken down the fearsome puppetmaster he'd heard of? "It seems she has acquired Lady Tsunade's immense strength and chakra control at an even earlier age than she did. It looks like the battle was fierce from the decimated grounds, and that the Haruno girl is lucky to be alive."

"I wouldn't call it luck," Orochimaru said quietly. "I would say the girl is going to be a terrifying force as she grows older. Not even Tsunade could have beaten Sasori at fifteen."

"That's just the beginning," Kabuto sighed. "It seems the girl has also been learning medical ninjutsu, and has taken to it faster than any student Tsunade has ever taught, even Shizune. She not only created an antidote for Sasori's poison with nothing but samples of the substance and saved Kankuro, but she created enough to use as an antidote in her battle with Sasori. It seems she was able to fight through pain and poison to beat him. And then after Granny Chiyo sacrificed her life for Gaara, Sakura was the one who finished the healing process for Gaara and Kankuro."

"So it would seem," Orochimaru pondered aloud, "We are dealing with the second coming of Tsunade, with stronger force and determination."

"That's basically what we're dealing with. I would argue to say she may become stronger than Tsunade one day, without even the advantage of bloodline." Kabuto shuffled around the room, and Sasuke could hear the clinking of vials.

"We shall keep an eye on her," Orochimaru mumbled. "She could be a large problem for us. What about the other boy? The one who was with Naruto and Sakura?"

Sasuke stopped listening and began walking to his room again, this time at a quicker pace. He quickly shut the door to his room, his thoughts burning in his skull. Sakura, the heart of team seven, had become the brute strength? The healer?

After some thought, Sasuke supposed it was fitting. She had soothed and healed her teammates' minds and souls, and had always been a common factor that the others pulled their strength from. It made sense that she would take those qualities and use them to shape her ninjutsu. Even still, it was astounding that Sakura had done all she had in Suna. It showed more than just here natural talent; it showed determination and pride. She had found her drive and there was no turning back. Sasuke had to force himself to stop thinking about Sakura send Naruto into the Earth, a crater forming below his body. The thought alone caused a hint of a genuine smile to reach Sasuke's face for the first time in years.