[Neji/Saku] If she wouldn't talk to him, he'd have to... he'd have to make her listen.
A/N: Written for the Great Neji/Saku Revival on the nejisaku comm on lj. Requested by littlemisssushi. Had to include angst and a sacrifice.
The pink haired medic turned away from the kitchen counter where she was chopping vegetables to face the owner of that solemn voice. Her eyes were dry, but rimmed in red and slightly swollen. Neji's lips thinned at the sight, but he carefully didn't comment on her recent activities. He had more important things to talk about.
"Dinner's almost ready, Neji. Will you set the table?"
They weren't married, not really. In the ninja world, marriages were generally reserved for arrangements made for alliances or producing powerful children. Everyday shinobi didn't bother with a formal ceremony. Life was too short, and vows of love just as true with or without witnesses. Neji and Sakura had made their vows six months ago, but they had been living together longer than that.
Neji crossed to the cabinet with the dishes, but he wasn't giving up that easily. "Sakura," he repeated.
She cut him off quickly. "I don't want to talk about it."
"You don't even know what I want to talk about," he pointed out, setting the plates on their small kitchen table. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Neji winced, realizing belatedly that that had been the wrong thing to say.
He ducked just in time to avoid the knife she flung at him. "How dare you?" she hissed. "You don't even try and understand." With that, she stomped out of their apartment, slamming the door on the way out, shaking the whole room with the force.
Picking himself up, Neji glanced around the kitchen. He plucked the knife out of the wall and returned it to the counter, then turned off the burner Sakura had been using. Unsure of what to do next, he found himself fingering the scar in the wall left by the knife Sakura had thrown at him. "Dammit." He needed to talk to Sakura tonight. He couldn't leave her to cool off like he usually did when they argued. "Dammit." If she wouldn't talk to him, he'd have to... he'd have to make her listen.
His fist slammed into the wall.
She saw him coming and bit out, "I'm sorry," before he could reach her. Neji didn't stop. When he was close enough, he twined the fingers of his left hand in her shirt and pulled her towards him the last few steps. Sakura didn't resist, just stepped towards him and wrapped her arms loosely around his waist and buried her head into his shoulder.
"I'm sorry," she repeated, softer now. "I just..."
Neji combed his left hand through her hair, the right dangled at his side. "We're going to bring him back."
Sakura snorted, "Don't make promises you can't keep."
"No. Hokage-sama's given my team the mission."
Her arms tightened around his waist. She drew in a shaky breath he could feel against his shoulder. "When do we leave?"
"You're not going."
Sakura tore away from him, pinning him with a sharp green glare. "You asked Hokage-sama to leave me out?" she hissed.
Neji wasn't a man who easily expressed himself in words. But he had no problem with this particular sentiment. "I don't want you to see him."
Sakura bit her lip and looked away. "Neji, I..." She trailed off as memory overtook her, the last time she'd seen /him/. Sound's second attack on Konoha, without the assistance of Sand, didn't go nearly as well as the first. But for Sakura, it was far more damaging. He'd been there, among the attackers, killing people she saw every day, people she'd healed, laughed with, cared about. And still she'd froze facing him, stopped by that part of her that had loved him almost as long as she could remember. The part of her he'd used against her.
And yet. That part of her that once was willing to betray Konoha to stay with him was still there, still strong. And Neji knew.
And he knew about her and Neji.
"Don't go," she whispered. "He'll kill you."
"I have to." /Because you'll never be right without some closure/, he didn't say, but she had enough experience interpreting him to hear it loud and clear.
Sakura placed a hand against his chest, blinking tears out of her eyes. "Neji..."
"I have to," he whispered, placing both hands on her shoulders and squeezing. It didn't escape her that his left hand gripped harder than his right.
"Neji, your hand," the medic gasped, pulling out of his grip and taking the hand in question. "What happened?"
"I think I broke it."
Sakura tutted over him, inserting her chakra into his, moving bone and mending fractures. She knew he'd distracted her on purpose, but this once, she let it go. Neji hated to argue with her, and he was forever trying to distract her to avoid an argument. But tonight, Sakura realized, she really didn't want to argue with him either. Not when she might not see him again for months. Or... or ever.
She tightened her fingers around his now healed hand, but bit back the words. You're not planning on coming back, are you? Neji heard them anyway.
He brushed his thumb against the soft skin under her eye where the tears were starting to gather. No tears/, his eyes said. /Not tonight.