Summary: Because we are all broken in one way or another, and in our mere humanity we hope for a happy resolution to our lives even if we believe we will never get it. AU Modern Day.
Genres: A little bit of everything, minus Poetry and Western. Focus leans toward Drama, Angst, Hurt/Comfort…
Characters: Madara & Sakura. 3rd Person POV Sakura focus. Present tense.
A/N: Special thanks to Hushnelle for quickly going over this chapter and to my RL friend. Please R & R if you have time.
Each following chapter will consist of a single month. This chapter/prelude contains August and September.
He is much older than her and far more experienced in life. It is written on his face, on the slowness of his movements, it even rings in his voice and his choice of words.
At the moment, he's not looking at her. He stares above her head, at the ticking clock, an expression of sadness on his face. So lonesome. Even though she is in the room, willing to speak with him, she knows she can't impart wisdom or heal invisible wounds. And small talk seems rather pathetic at this point… so the room remains silent between them.
She wonders how people can stay broken for so long. The man before her being the perfect example. If there was a way she could ask without sounding cruel, she would. She would question relentlessly. Perhaps if she were braver she'd find a way to help him. But every time she opens her mouth it dries up, and her stomach turns. She doesn't know how to start such a conversation or where it would lead. Words seem to do little good in times like these.
Her green eyes go to the side to look at the clock that sits on her desk. It is ten minutes passed the meeting time and she hasn't shown up. She never shows up on time. And yet he still comes, every appointment, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.
The hair on her arms raise and she looks up and into black eyes. They are solemn, tired, and empty. His lips tilt up in society's way of easing another mind and he gives a shrug as if it doesn't bother him. But she knows it does. And there is nothing she can possibly do except watch. It makes her so angry, so frustrated, that her lips almost curl in disgust.
She remembers her place, and in her place she stays.
She gives a nod to him in acknowledgement and tries to appear apathetic—he isn't a man to be pitied. She tilts her head to the side and looks back at the clock; thirty-one minutes.
The door opens. The woman walks in, heels clicking. And the room is filled with the stench that comes with her. It is the smell of a cologne, which doesn't belong to the man awaiting her arrival. She sits across from him and makes an excuse about traffic.
Green eyes close to get rid of the sight of the woman kissing the man's cheek and to stop herself from getting angry. But she is furious. Furious with both deserved justice and jealousy. In the way he looks at her, the way he cares for her. The way his focus is upon her and only her, it is as if she is the center of everything. When he is in her presence, he is a different person. He has such devotion, such love.
Yet she has no one, nor has she ever received such attention. It is painful for her to watch and see what she does not have. Her heart covets even the simple hand squeeze he bestows upon her.
It sickens her stomach, making her taste acid. Her cheeks flush and her grip tightens. Her pounding heart thumps so loud that it almost covers his soft words: I've missed you. But it doesn't and she still hears them. How many times has she heard them? How many more times?
I missed you too.
She opens her eyes after they have finished their greetings and have turned to her.
"How have things been going?" She they begin talking and talking. She doesn't know where to truly begin; she's never been trained for this. Trying, she treads lightly upon the topic, but not lightly enough.
The woman twitches, eyes narrow and then she snorts.
"Mui, I am trying-"
That was the wrong thing to say. The woman is quite furious and demands they both leave and get someone who knows what they are doing.
The woman is right; she doesn't know what she is doing.
She can only close her eyes as the door to her office slams shut and the heels echo down the hallway. Her eyes open to the clock.
There is only so much she can take; so much she can deal with; so many times she can sit and do nothing. She cannot handle her own emotions anymore. She cannot watch his broken life, it is too much like hers. Above all, she cannot help him any longer, because it is obviously clear that she has no power in which to help. "You need a real marriage counselor, Mr. Uchiha. I'm just a one-on-one health therapist; if not for your family, my friend's relationship, I would never have taken you both as clients."
"If you could have a session with my wife-"
"That's not… my focus is food disorders. " Not marital issues. She'd specified in her field because that was what she understood the best.
His black eyes are staring at her, empty and desperate. "I don't want to lose her."
Why and how could he be so devoted? She hangs her head at her own helplessness and the shame of her jealous thoughts. She would give anything to be so cherished. "Then you need a real marriage counselor." It is painful for her to admit. It is painful for her to be so incompetent.
She stands and moves to the door; he follows behind her a couple steps back. She walks down the hallway and turns to the secretary, giving him the information of one of the marriage counselors she knows personally. The appointment is made for next week. Done overseeing the task, she turns to look at him one more time.
"Good luck, Mr. Uchiha," she tells him with all sincerity, extending a hand which he shakes.
"Thank you for trying, Miss Haruno."
She watches him leave and then goes back to her office. She sits in her chair and her eyes go to the clock. Fifty-six. Her next appointment is in fourteen minutes. She closes her eyes and rests her face in her hands, but his empty gaze stays at the forefront of her mind.
She is swaying on a porch swing, back and forth. She rests her head back and stares up at the dark sky. There are no stars visible.
She reaches out, not removing her eyes, and takes the cold beer from his hands. "Thank you, Sasuke."
He sits beside her, a beer in his hand as well. "He'll be ok, Sakura. I know my uncle, it may take some time but he'll be ok."
"Ah…" She takes a sip, her eyes still not leaving the sky. Her heart hurts; her head hurts. The news still echoes around in her thoughts, over and over. She looks down at the beer, feeling nauseous.
"They were barely married three years. He got over his last wife enough to marry this one; he's going to be fine. She didn't even get a lot of money out of the deal," Sasuke continues talking and the words become muted as she tries to grasp reality.
She'd hoped for a better ending. She really had. She may have hated that woman, but she had wanted the best for him. It had been obvious that his happiness relied on her. She had failed. She had failed miserably. Why had she gotten involved with them? Why had they asked her, when they knew she couldn't say no? Why, oh why?
A hand grabs at her shoulder and she turns then to look into the dark eyes of her good friend. He presses his forehead to hers as if to comfort her, but she can barely feel the touch. He pulls her into a side hug and he breathes out a heavy sigh. "It's not your fault. You know that, don't you?"
"Ah." She gives a half-nod, not really committing to an answer but trying to please him at the same time. She knows that it wasn't all her fault, but her job had been to reconcile the two. Obviously some of the blame rested on her.
"I mean it. Everyone in our family bet against them. We all thought they'd end it within the first year."
Again she gives another half-nod and tries to tug away from his grip. He lets her go and she sips at the beer in her hands. The cold liquid that usually refreshes her seems to taste even bitterer than usual. She looks back up at the sky, just to stare into the illusion of vast emptiness. If only her mind was such, then she wouldn't feel the pain she did now.
The man beside her lets out another sigh. "I'm sorry I let my mom push you into this. She just wants Uncle Madara to be happy."
Her lips tilt up ever so slightly although she feels no happiness, "He's her little brother, of course she wants him to be happy." He was a good man; he deserved to be happy and she tells Sasuke as much.
He starts laughing, his shoulders shaking although there is the lack of true mirth. "Sakura, my uncle can give as good as he gets. You only saw one side of the situation."
"You don't understand; he was so dedicated to her."
Sasuke sighs at the remark and then taps her forehead, making her turn to look at him. "Listen to me, Sakura, such zealous devotion can be constricting to the person they are projected on."
The words hit her hard, like a quick slap of a hand.
"No," he says immediately, realizing what he has said, "I didn't mean it like…" He takes a breath; his eyes look at the glass in his hand. "It wasn't like that between you and me. I was just—"He fails to complete a proper sentence and his excuses die away and again they are both swinging, back and forth on a deck of his house.
"I know," she tells him, giving his shoulder a squeeze. "I know." But it doesn't matter if she knows he didn't mean it like that. The words have been said and she knows he is speaking from experience, his experience with her.
She lets silence be the conversation as she turns back to look at the sky. She gains control over her features and makes a blank façade to cover the pain she feels. Perhaps that is why she wanted him to have a happy ending. She could see herself so easily in his position; if he was able to be happy then there was hope for herself as well. But there were no happy endings in this world, were there? People like her, like him, are easily manipulated, tossed aside and harmed by others. They possessed too much feeling, too much attachment. Was it wrong to love someone so much?
She takes another drink, tilting her head back and draining the bottle. She gives her friend a pat on the shoulder, telling him about her early work day. She excuses herself and shakes him off when he offers to escort her home, only a couple blocks away.
Her heels click upon the sidewalk and for a moment she wishes to run, run as far away as she can so she doesn't have to deal with the heavy thoughts that plague her mind. But she doesn't. She continues down the street to an empty house that could use some work, a light inside, the smell of home cooked food and another person to greet. But tonight has reaffirmed the decision she made so long ago.
The house will remain as is. The only work will be done by her hands or paid with her money. She will be the only one to flip the light switch, to make her own bed, to talk to the empty walls. Promising to herself that she will never allow her kindness and love to be taken advantage of, she makes her way up her driveway. She will not put her happiness in the hands of another; she's seen what a mistake that is and felt the consequences of such a mistake. She will not be broken, not again.
She pulls her keys from her purse and opens the door to her house. Walking inside, she locks the door behind her. She slides down the wall, her butt resting upon the wooden flooring.
And to her own shame, she then cries.