|Princess Without Her Castle
Author: dance of isis PM
The things you are, the things you love, the things you never want to lose ... it's all in the memory. [sasusaku]Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Sakura H. & Sasuke U. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 9,210 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 19 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 05-11-08 - Published: 11-02-07 - id: 3870767
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
i've seen your flag on the marble arch…
but love is not a victory march
Who do you think it was who sent the letter?
How should I know?
It wouldn't have been Sasuke … I may not know him, but he doesn't seem like––but, do I go?
Go for gold, girl!
Whatever that is.
Sakura knew that conversing with a rediscovered 'inner self' was probably not the most advisable methods of gaining sound advice, but she was not about to ask her parents. She did not want their biased viewpoint as they exchanged looks she had lost the ability to read a year ago.
She squeezed her eyes shut and willed for herself to go to sleep. It wasn't the end of the world, whichever decision she made. Right now, it was past midnight and she'd had a hectic day––her first day back in the world of Konoha, of ninja, and away from hospitals and whitewash walls and stupid gowns and patronising therapists––
(I want to work in the hospital, you know, when I'm better at this.)
"Goodnight, me," she muttered to herself, turning over and sighing.
Sakura's dreams, during the year period of recuperation, had been mostly bizarre happenings and things like teapots sticking to the ceiling. Nothing that made any coherent sense; nothing interesting.
Tonight, however, was different.
Flashes of cherry blossoms and blood-stained somethings glittered at her from the depths of her sub-conscious, and for a moment, Sasuke's face burst into her mind with such a ferocity that she woke up the next morning with her eyes burning.
Sakura, said her inner-self, seriously in fact, and that was what made her listen, go today and be among the people who might know stuff, AND tell it, too.
She concurred, only after Inner-Sakura gave her a headache due to her hesitation.
Blue. Red. Green. Yellow.
She was absently registering the colours as she walked down the sidewalk, fiddling with the hem of her shirt. Red. Green. Blue. Her eyes drifted from one side to the other, vacant.
Flashes of her dream came back to her, sliding across her mind like vapour. There had been blood, flashes of cherry-pink, and that certain knowledge of pain.
What happened to me…?
Sasuke was pacing back and forth relentlessly, occasionally pausing in his tirade to send a glare in Naruto's direction. The blonde was leaning against a tree casually, not intimidated in the slightest.
The ebony-haired boy suddenly whirled around to face Naruto. "You––"
"Yes, the world already knows I've severely wronged you," Naruto interrupted. "You've tried to lecture me about ten times already, but I can tell you're nervous."
"You saw her yesterday, and you realised how much you missed her––"
"She's not Sakura," Sasuke snapped, with so much contempt that Naruto doubled back. He snarled in a way which suggested that it was a small hope he clung to; a conclusion he'd driven into his brain by force, just to convince himself that that meant he had moved on.
Naruto was giving him a Look; one that screamed of sympathy. Sasuke glared.
"You think it's your fault, don't you?" the blonde boy asked, giving his best friend an appraising look.
The Uchiha didn't respond, merely kicked loose pebbles away irritably, suddenly feeling as if the world was deliberately against him.
"You do!" Naruto grinned in triumph at having figured out the cause for Sasuke's incredibly bad mood. "You think it's your fault she's like this, and you're angry she doesn't remember because you want to be blamed––"
"Shut the fuck up, dobe," Sasuke snarled, eyes flashing red as the Sharingan activated itself due to its owner's precarious control. Ever since Sakura's accident a year prior, it had been difficult to access, almost entirely depending on emotions.
Naruto stared at him impassively. "Nothing happens when nothing happens, teme."
"Idiot," Sasuke breathed, whirling around and stalking off. He had no time for Naruto's childish games, and the simplistic belief that Sakura would somehow magically transform herself to match who she had been.
Their Sakura––his Sakura––was in a place impervious to infiltration, out of reach, and it was something he had accepted months ago. He would not have Naruto attempting to convince him otherwise. Sasuke was nothing if not logical.
An arm fuelled by chakra that was not quite his own halted his exit.
"Teme––" Naruto growled dangerously, fox-eyes momentarily visible. "You are not doing this to Sakura-chan. I won't let you."
"…I'm nothing to her," Sasuke responded, expressionless. "And she's nothing to me, dobe."
He shrugged out of his grasp, intent on leaving as soon as possible, but was stopped again when he noticed the girl with flaming pink hair who had just entered the park.
He narrowed his eyes. Damnit.
There was a part of him that firmly believed the Sakura he had come to grudgingly respect as a teammate was lost to them forever, and that future interaction with the imposter who had taken up residence in her body was futile. But there was a stronger part of him which harboured doubts about this theory, which was tentative and hesitant to accept the girl back into his life, but wanted her there all the same. And perhaps Naruto had cottoned on to this concept, or had stumbled across it due to sheer luck, but Sasuke found himself unable to leave once he spotted her.
Naruto had always considered his best friend, his rival, as an impenetrable being with strong fortifications surrounding his person at all times. Someone who was contained within miles of barbed wire and bear traps. He had seen Sasuke's barriers be slowly broken down, before his very eyes, and had seen them shoot up again in a hasty attempt at self-preservation.
But never before had he seen the queer look that passed into the other boy's eyes when he spotted Sakura.
Sakura entered the clearing that passed for a park with reluctance. She had spotted the guy with the blonde shock of hair that she supposed was the one they had called Naruto at the hospital––the one they'd always spoken of in hurried whispers, as though he were a forbidden subject or like to persecute them for rumours.
To Sakura, he largely looked like a moron.
Her gaze slid to the other figure, and her heart slowed to an unequivocal stop. Sasuke. Running into him earlier had maxed out her people skills for the next decade, and seeing him with a recalcitrant look on his face and his hands shoved into his pockets did not help her nervousness.
"Sakura-chan!" greeted Naruto with a bubbling sort of infectious mirth that shimmered about him, almost visibly. It seemed familiar to Sakura, in a way that nothing else had so far.
(Sakura-chan! How 'bout we go get some ramen together?)
"H-hello," she intoned as politely as she could manage, wringing her hands.
There was a perceptible change in her demeanour, Naruto noted. She moved as if almost ashamed to be seen, like the helpless damsel she had been in her tweens; all that strength and determination she had poured into becoming a competent medic-nin lost. He felt his heart go out to her, but refrained from mentioning it.
"I'm Naruto," he said, holding out a hand warmly. "Believe it! I was your teammate back when you were a ninja. I know that you haven't exactly wanted to catch up with us, but I asked you here to prove you wrong! The teme and I were your best friends."
Stupid, Sasuke thought in disgust, lip curling. Tactless idiot.
If Sakura seemed taken aback by his openness, she didn't show it. She shook his hand, obeying social niceties, and then went back to keeping her distance. "Um, that's thoughtful of you," she replied with the first words that came into her head.
Naruto gestured to Sasuke. "He said you guys met before, right?"
She nodded. "We did…"
Sasuke looked away moodily, grunting. Naruto rolled his eyes and gave Sakura a hopeful smile; they had surpassed the realms of awkwardness and were now grazing happily in the pastures on the other side. Only a brick of a person like Sasuke would refuse to partake in light-hearted banter.
"Um," Sakura glanced at Sasuke, before returning her gaze to Naruto. "Did you… want to talk about anything in particular?"
Naruto frowned. She's still uncomfortable… gah…
"Uh, no," he grinned at her boyishly. "Although if you haven't eaten already, maybe we can go get some ramen? We'll take care of you, and answer any questions if you have any!"
("Ramen is the best food in the world, Sakura-chan!"
"Fine, we can have some. Only IF you promise not to have any tomorrow."
The dizzying sensation of memories fighting to escape their confines assailed Sakura's senses. She doubled back, grimacing at the sudden headache it brought on. Naruto furrowed his brow in concern, but when Sakura stumbled, it was Sasuke who steadied her with a grim look and stiff posture.
Ha, I know your game, Naruto grinned inwardly at his friend, as Sasuke moved back to his original position after tending to the girl.
"You okay, Sakura-chan?" the blonde boy asked next, baby blues filled with genuine concern.
"I'm fine," the pink-haired girl replied, hand pressed to her forehead. "Ramen. Yeah. I'd like that."
And the questions answered, her thoughts added.
CHA! was Inner-Sakura's contribution.
Naruto and Sasuke. She had familiarised herself with them via her photo collection, reminiscing over what she'd have liked to remember about those times, and what she wanted to know now. She had reached a conclusion––she wanted answers, and Naruto was her key to them.
As they made their way to the ramen stall, Naruto felt the pressure of Sakura's condition constricting him. They had been close friends, and he had loved her as a sister; his feelings for her had overpowered anything else. But seeing her now, here, different––it made him regard Sasuke's theory with a better understanding.
It was an escape.
Tsunade looked up from the missives she had received from Suna to see Kakashi standing there, nose buried in the latest edition of Icha Icha. Her amber eyes narrowed to slits, because Kakashi's need to arrive inconspicuously meant he was concerned. Indeed, there seemed to be some sort of stress lacing his movements.
"How did it go with Sakura?" enquired the Hokage, without preamble.
"She's still very wilful," Kakashi smiled from beneath his mask. "And still as insolent as she always was."
"I have the feeling that's not all there is to it," Tsunade replied tiredly, seeing the hazardous half-circles surrounding the man's eyes, and the way he seemed fractionally slower in his movements.
"I've been researching," he shrugged. "Trying to find out what could cause Sakura's special case of amnesia."
"We already have had our most skilled medics try to find a cure, including myself," the woman glared. "If we haven't found any answers, then I doubt––"
"I'm not calling you incompetent," Kakashi interjected coolly. "But I stumbled across an interesting theory last night."
"Pray tell?" Tsunade asked mockingly; she didn't doubt Kakashi's abilities, but was slightly offended he believed he could summon forth the answer with the wave of his hand, when trained and experienced medics had failed to find one even after a year of in-depth research and experimentation.
"Sakura…" he looked thoughtful, and a certain fondness passed over his face as he recalled his spirited student; the one he had always left behind. "When I was training her, I found she had excellent chakra control––which you already know, obviously. I was thinking back to what exactly could have caused this amount of control, considering she does not belong to any particularly spectacular clans… indeed; her parents are not even ninja."
Tsunade fell silent, tracing the gaps in the woodwork of her desk with her eyes. "Your point?"
"I was talking with Miss Yamanaka the other day," Kakashi continued coolly. "And she recalled the fight she had with Sakura during the preliminaries for the third stage of the Chunin exams, when they were twelve. She said that she was forcibly removed from Sakura's mind by some other entity––something else that coexisted in Sakura's mind."
The Hokage's lips were white on account of their being pursed together so tightly. Her hand gripped the poised pen she had above the documents from Suna, cracking it and sending ink to spill all over the missives.
"After being through something as traumatic as what happened…" Kakashi did not betray his own excitement at a possible breakthrough, but it was there. "The existence of another entity within her mind could complicate the process of remembering, couldn't it? The amnesia could've been induced by this entity, to keep Sakura from going into shock and consequently dying while her body was repairing itself?"
There was silence for a few moments.
"You're saying that… there's something else in Sakura's mind, and it is responsible for the damage done to her psyche?" was Tsunade's summary after she had finally regained the ability to command her vocal chords.
"I'm saying we should consider the possibility."
Tsunade relaxed back into her chair, barking for Shizune to clean up the mess that she had made of her desk.
There's hope for my student yet.
"And so then after that, Neji got Lee into a headlock and Tenten thought they were both acting pretty stupid so she stalked off fuming, and that just made Neji angrier, so Sasuke here got involved and started to––"
"Dobe," Sasuke interrupted, glaring down at the ramen before him with distaste equalling what he felt about the current situation. I don't even know why I'm here.
"Eh, sorry," Naruto scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "I got a bit carried away, didn't I, Sakura-chan? Well, you'll meet all these people soon enough, right? They're all your friends, and they miss you heaps!"
Sakura gave him a brittle smile, chopsticks hovering over her own steaming bowl hesitantly. They said that sensory abilities aided in memory recollection, and she hadn't had ramen since before the "accident".
"Of course I will," she said softly. When Hell freezes over.
Sasuke noticed her discomfort, and this only caused him to glare at the ramen even more viciously than before, launching a mental tirade against Naruto.
"Um, actually…I was wondering if I could ask you two something…" Sakura enquired courteously. Naruto beamed at her, glad she had taken the initiative to start the conversation.
Baby steps, was his policy. Baby steps and soon she'll be our Sakura-chan again! "Sure," he said merrily, slurping up his ramen with the grace of a two-year-old.
"Why did I lose my memory?" her voice had dropped a few octaves, adopting a no-nonsense and cold quality. "What happened to me?"
I have to know… I need to know…
Be careful! Seriously. You don't know what it'll do to you.
I don't have a choice. I can't live a half-life.
The grin was wiped clean off Naruto's face, and replaced with a panicked look, as he sent desperate SOS signals towards Sasuke. The Uchiha rolled his eyes, wondering why the blonde hadn't seen it coming sooner––it would have been Sakura's only motivation to accept their invitation. She had had no desire to socialise with them before this.
"Why do you want to know?" Sasuke addressed her.
Sakura glanced at him in surprise, but managed to keep her voice level. "No one else will tell me," she said slowly, deliberating the weight of every word. "Everybody else tells me that I have to talk to somebody who was there. And you two––you two were there. Everybody talks about your "heroic" actions…"
Sasuke let a short bark of disbelief, equal parts a growl and a laugh, escape him. Heroic actions? They can delude themselves…
"I wasn't," Naruto spoke up quietly.
Sakura frowned. "What?"
"I wasn't there," he reiterated. "Not for all of it. I only came in at the end, after you'd––" he broke off. "It's Sasuke's choice to tell you, not mine."
Sakura looked at the dark-haired Uchiha hopefully. Every female at the hospital had swooned over him and his good looks––they called him the prodigal son, although she had no idea what he had done to deserve the connotations of that statement. Her mother had mentioned something of him leaving the village for a period of time in passing, but her knowledge of shinobi activities was limited.
"It's none of your concern," Sasuke snapped. "That happened in another life."
He left the bench, and his full bowl of ramen, and properly stalked off this time, ignoring Naruto's shouts and the feeling of Sakura's gaze being on him even after he rounded the corner.
"It's been six months already…"
"We'll find him, Sakura-chan! We have to!"
"There was talk of him being near Konoha. He's after you, Naruto."
"And if we can find him, then we'll find the teme, too…"
Sakura, drifting in and out of consciousness, heard these voices on the edge of her mind, playing over and over like a broken record.
"There he is!"
"Sakura-chan! Wait! No––!"
"Naruto, I have to!"
She rolled over to the side of her bed, clamping a pillow over her head to block out the garbled messages of once-familiar voices. She could not decipher their meaning, but the buzzing sound that accompanied their arrival was disturbing her slumber.
This distorted shout affected her more than it should have.
Sasuke was similarly experiencing a night of broken sleep.
"Sasuke-kun…" she had barely changed, her hair still short and cropped. Thirteen. Barely older. "Come home."
And he had obliged without having a choice, bloodied and bruised from his latest encounter with Itachi, and she had carried him all the way back to Konoha, not stumbling once.
He growled. Sakura…
She was fifteen now, hair fanning out around her face. "Sasuke-kun!"
Blood coloured her clothes before he had the chance to reach her.
it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah
A/N: So I finally got my act together! I had the first half of this sitting there for ages, but never finished it. I'm not exactly sure what I think of it yet, but it's more like a filler for the next chapter, so whatever. I will probably not update this again until I get further with the Pinkish Green Saga, but it will be updated eventually!