Sasuke comes home.
Sakura looks at him - he’s so exhausted as if he’s run as fast as he could. Sasuke can run impossibly fast, Sakura ponders aimlessly. And somehow, he just isn’t fast enough.
She turns on her heel, senses the hesitation in his step before he follows. She hopes it isn’t because he expected a better response.
Sakura is sure he’s taking in the new surroundings, maybe wondering what happened to the once-upon-a-time that was their old home.
That once-upon-a-time seems so long ago, Sakura thinks. Then again, she doesn’t really want to think. It hurts to think about all the hope and promise before Sasuke disappeared from her life again. Now he has returned. And somehow, it just isn’t good enough.
They reach the bedroom. Ironically, there is no semblance of comfort. The gaping silence only worsens the distance between them. Sasuke seats himself on the side of the bed and tears off the remains of his shredded clothing.
He’s battered and bruised, beaten black and blue, Sakura notes. And somehow, he just isn’t hurt enough.
She places her hands gently on his skin, the only sound in the room being the slight hum of channelling chakra. It stays like that for quite a while. There isn’t anything much to say. Or maybe there is, and Sakura is too tired to waste energy opening her mouth.
She’s so tired.
But for the first time in a long time - far longer than it ever should’ve been - Sasuke is the one who talks. He catches her hand in his, stilling her action and obliging her attention. Something haunting swarms in those dark eyes of his. Sakura concludes it’s almost-regret.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
Sakura almost doesn’t hear it, for her ears are tuned to a sudden shuffle in the room. She gazes over her shoulder and sees Sarada - the most beautiful person in the world to her, falling apart at the seams.
Her daughter is slanting against the side of the door, as if she would just collapse without it. Kami, she loves Sarada so much, and the look on her daughter’s face unwinds everything holding Sakura together.
Sakura turns her gaze back onto Sasuke. He is struck, akin to a blind man seeing the sun for the first time. Damningly, she remembers that once-upon-a-time again, where her chest would’ve swelled with adoration. Instead, she realises one fact. It’s not somehow, or any derivative of uncertainty and confusion. Sakura knows.
Saying sorry just isn’t enough.