"Y-you… your aren't serious. Are you?"
Hugging her knees to her chest, Sakura bit her lower lip tightly. Her grimace expressed just how much she wished she could say that no, she wasn't serious. But she was. Her medical texts didn't lie. This fact… she couldn't change it nor deny it.
"I am. I'm sorry, Hinata."
"What for?" the dark-haired girl asked, eyes wide and watery.
Absent-mindedly, she played with the bandages on her left hand."If only I had gotten us out of that cave sooner, we wouldn't be in this situation. It's my entire fault this happened."
After a short pause, Hinata got off the bed and lowered herself to the floor. Her small, pale hands reached for hers and held them kindly, comfortingly. "Sakura… Don't blame yourself like this. You did your best, as always. Besides, I'm also responsible. I should've been more alert; I should've seen those things coming. It's not just your fault. Trust me."
Sakura wanted to believe her, but it was costing her a great effort. As the perfectionist she was when it came to her duties as a shinobi, she constantly demanded too much from herself. She wanted to do things right, to save everyone, to be the make things better instead of worse – always. That's why, when she made mistakes, she couldn't help but feel immensely guilty.
"Let's just deal with this," Hinata said softly, squeezing her hands a little. "Okay?"
She looked up at her, green eyes full of fear and hesitancy. "But… how?"
Letting go of her hands, the Hyuga sat back on her folded legs. "Well," she said, cheeks tinted red, "you just told me how. And… Naruto-kun and Sasuke-san are in the room right next to ours… right?"
Panic washed over her instantly."Hinata-!"
"I know! I know," she replied, her blush darkening. "But… I really don't want to die. Do you?"
"No," she answered sincerely. "I don't."
Despite how clearly flustered she was, determination was clear in Hinata's gaze. Sakura found it very admirable. Perhaps this girl was even braver than she'd thought.
"Then we must do whatever it takes."
Half an hour later, the two kunoichis plucked up enough courage to exit the room they were supposed to share for the night and go knock on their teammates' door.
It was Sasuke who answered. He wore no shoes, no headband, and no vest. His dark hair was tousled and his dark eyes were opaque with sleep. He looked at Sakura first, then at Hinata, who stood fidgeting behind her. Returning his gaze to the pink-haired girl, he questioned bluntly, "What do you want?"
"We need to talk with Naruto and you," Sakura answered, her voice steady despite her racing pulse. "Something happened."
Sasuke frowned. "What's wrong?"
Sakura was at loss of words for a moment. It was Hinata's turn to speak then. "Please let us in, Sasuke-san. It's urgent."
The Uchiha eyed the introvert girl with confusion, but promptly complied. Stepping aside, he motioned the girls to come into the room, and once they did, he closed the door behind them quietly.
Naruto was still sleeping soundly on his bed. Mouth agape, drool spilling from its corner, and limbs spread wide open, he snored and smiled lightly at whatever he was dreaming about. Sakura found this kind of sight rather amusing most of the time, but due to her current circumstances, all sense of humor had drained from her.
She walked over to the blond's bed and shook his shoulder. "Naruto, wake up!"
He groaned and turned on his side, covering his head with his arms.
"Come on, you dumbass," Sasuke said, appearing right beside her. He nudged their friend's back with a knee. "Something important is up."
"Whaaa'," Naruto mumbled, still not opening his eyes but not entirely unconscious anymore. "Wha' issit… busterrrd…? Was'at Sak'ra-chan? Whasshe doin' here?"
"N-Naruto-kun, please wake up."
At the sound of Hinata's voice, he jolted fully awake. His blue eyes snapped open and he sat up in bed, looking around the room almost desperately. "Huh? What's that-? Ah! Hinata-chan!" he exclaimed when he spot her, standing awkwardly near the door. "Why are you here?"
"We came to talk to you guys," Sakura answered for her, sitting on the edge of his bed.
"What's up?" Naruto frowned at hers and Sasuke's expressions, surely noticing the dread in them. "What's happened? Is everyone alright?"
All eyes fell on Hinata as she answered, "Not quite. Sakura and I are… in trouble."
"What do you mean?" Sasuke asked, and then looked back at the other girl. "Sakura, what the hell is going on?"
Embarrassedly staring down at her lap, she said, "Do you guys remember one of our enemies from earlier, the one who had a similar ability to Shino's, except with spiders only?"
"Yeah, the dude with the creepy smile," Naruto said, pushing the blankets off him and getting on his feet. "Hinata and you fought him while Sasuke and I fought his partner."
Sakura nodded. "And do you remember I told you we had to follow him into a cave?"
"What happened in there?" Sasuke asked, arms crossed and frown deep.
"He attacked us with with his spiders," Sakura replied, "but it was a different kind of technique. We managed to defeat him, yes, but we… we were bitten."
"By the spiders!" Naruto realized out loud. "Seriously? Why didn't you tell us that before?"
"I didn't believe it was important, since each of us has only one small bite. However, a few hours ago, we noticed that our wounds were swelling up and reddening, and that the veins around them were turning black. This alarmed us, so I decided do through my medical texts."
"And what did you find?" Sasuke inquired.
"I found a picture of one of those spiders in the Deadly Venomous Animals section."
"Fuck," Naruto breathed out, his stomach dropping.
"They're called the Eros spiders," Sakura began to explain, her tone serious and professional, even though her gaze screamed fear. "The venom that this spider produces is highly mortal. Once it enters the bloodstream, it spreads with a remarkable speed through the body. However, this speed depends on the person's body mass: the lighter the body is, the greater the speed. It also depends on the location of the bite, due to the fact that, once the venom reaches the brain, fatality is unavoidable."
"And what's the antidote?" Naruto asked.
"Because it is highly complex, it is very hard to fabricate it. I could give it a try, but it would take me at least a week. Of course, we don't have that much time. The spider bit me on the hand and I am slightly underweight, which means I have approximately four hours left, and Hinata has like seven, because, although she is also underweight, her bite is on her thigh. So… the only other way to get some sort of antidote would be the… old-fashioned one."
"Well… There are certain hormones that fight off the venom. The main ones are dopamine and serotonin. Also, there are proteins and monosaccharides that-"
Sasuke let out an impatient sigh. "Damn it, Sakura, just get to the point-"
Hinata blushed madly, while the two males stared at their pink-haired teammate with utter shock and whispered in unison, "What?"
"It is the only other cure," Sakura mumbled, her cheeks also on fire. "The hormones produced during sex, along with the properties of human sweat and seminal fluid, dull the effects of the venom. It doesn't really make it disappear, like the proper antidote would, but it slows the spreading considerably, giving the body some time."
"How much time?" Sasuke inquired just as quietly.
"According to my texts, at least an extra week per… uh, session."
"It'd be enough time to fabricate the real antidote, right?"
"Yes. More than enough."
No one spoke for a long moment. The room was submerged in a heavy, uncomfortable silence. Hinata inched towards the door, but she didn't dare to escape, in spite of how much she wanted to; Sakura kept her eyes on her lap, feeling mortified; Naruto sat back down on his bed, beside Sakura, and waited for someone's reaction while he tried to understand his own, and Sasuke just stared at the wall, deep in thought.
"I-I know this is extremely awkward," Hinata broke the silence at last. "But please, you need to understand… Sakura and I will surely die if you don't help us. And this is the only solution we have right now."
Sasuke and Naruto knew that. No matter how much they turned it around in their heads, they understood that, if they wanted the girls to survive – which they most definitely did – they would have to cooperate.
"There's two of you," Sakura forced herself to point out, "and there's two of us."
This observation was rather vague, yet everyone understood what it implicated: that they would have to choose. But it didn't truly matter who would do it, the girls or the boys, because the outcome would always be the same.
Hinata would choose Naruto, and vice versa.
Sakura would choose Sasuke, and vice versa.
They all knew it.
"Holy shit," Naruto sighed, covering his face with his hands and leaning his elbows on his knees. "I can't believe what I woke up to."
Notes: Hey there! This is a fic inspired by "Venom" by BlushingLotus (go read it asap!). I posted it on tumblr first (my url is jadeandonyx, by the way!) and since it got kind of popular I decided to post it in here too. Thanks for reading!