Sakura opened her eyes to a sky of silver and blue.
"Oh? To think you'd last a little longer," a lofty voice mused. Sakura sat up with a wince, rubbing the back of her head and glancing at her surroundings. At last, her eyes landed to the owner of the greeting. Her eyebrows furrowed immediately as she slowly pieced together what exactly happened to her.
"Sa... Sakura? No- I didn't- NO! Sakura! Wake up- I'm sorry! I didn't mean- I..."
She expected to have a heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach when realization finally hit. Instead, it felt as if the weight of her burdens had been carried off her shoulders, leaving her feeling like she completed a mission and there was nothing more for her to do. A sigh escaped her lips before a small grin made its way onto her face.
"Hearing that from you is such an honor," she drawled. "Where exactly are we, Sasori-san?"
He chuckled from his spot beside her and motioned to the hues of color that flowed freely around them. "This is the Void. People come here when they aren't allowed to pass on." he said. Sakura gave him an odd look.
"Not quite. Purgatory is where people go to atone for their sins before going to Heaven. The Void is neither one of the two. I'd say it's the same level as Purgatory, but we don't go anywhere. This is our final destination, but don't take my word for it, it's more of a theory than fact," he continued. She drew her legs to her chest and set her chin on her knees.
"I'll believe it. You must've had a lot of time to think, after all."
It was silent for a little while.
"... How old are you?" Sasori asked.
He turned his head away from her and winced. He really was expecting her to live for much longer than a mere eight years after his demise. She had a lot of promise when they first met. Haruno Sakura was an exceptionally strong kunoichi with so much potential that in his dying seconds he knew that one day, she'd turn out like Tsunade.
"It was the Fourth Shinobi World War. Seven years, it raged on. People were dying, villages were being destroyed, and no one had any hope," she began. Her eyes became incredibly distant. "Many of my friends had already died. Neji, Ino, Chouji, Lee... I was the leading medic on the battlefield. So many bodies and injured piled into the tents that we kept expanding the camp every week. That is, until, the camp was bombed. I was the only survivor."
Being in the Void for years gave Sasori too much time to think. In doing so, it gave him the opportunity to think about every single decision he ever made and every single thing he ever did. When three Earth years passed, he became aware of all his mistakes in his time: not forgiving his grandmother, killing Komushi, turning himself into a puppet, creating other human puppets... There were many more, but those four, at the very least, were the absolute worst things he did to himself.
Sakura continued with her story. "And that happened only the second year of the war. I did the very best that I could, but in the fifth year, I gave up all hope of the war ever ending, but I still did my job. The smell of corpses became a 24/7 deal and people dying... I just couldn't find the heart for them anymore. In the seventh year, things were looking unbelievably bright. I sought out Naruto for the first time in two years and found him fighting Sasuke to the death. Naruto was the future of Konoha- I wasn't about to let him die. So I jumped in between them."
She tapped her chest then her stomach.
"A rasengan to the stomach and a chidori to the heart."
Sasori could already see the horror on their faces after they realized they hurt- no, murdered- their teammate in one of the most terrible ways possible. He glanced at the person that would most likely be his only companion in this endless oblivion. Maybe this all wasn't a bad thing. He had a grudge against her previously, but he figured long ago that the grudge was hopeless. Shinobi were tools to carry out missions, and he had to admit, his death wasn't completely her fault.
He looked at her.
"Being here for as long as you have, has wanting to change the past ever crossed your mind?" she questioned. Sasori shrugged.
"I would if I could, but what shinobi deserves a second chance?"
"The ones who are able to make a change."
Their heads shot up at the unfamiliar voice, eyes scanning the endless space around them. Yet there was no one. A puff of smoke appeared in front of them and revealed two identical dog tag necklaces with the kanji for time and a turquoise scroll. Sasori and Sakura exchanged looks. The voice returned.
"Take the necklaces, then put them on. Read the scroll that will return the life withdrawn. But be warned, the road will have changed. Take back what had already been rearranged. Fix what has been broken in the past. And create a future that is sure to last."
Sasori picked up the necklaces, giving one to Sakura, and unsealed the scroll. Inside were two sentences. Suddenly, their voices rang in unison that neither had control over.
"Kill me once, but don't fail me twice. Take away my death and return my life."
And Void was empty once more.