Little Piece of Heaven
It wasn't fair.
As his footsteps hit the ceramic tiled floor, the hollow echo pounded into his ears. Time was moving too slow. The walls began to stretch, furthering the last door just out of his reach. So much farther it spread, so much farther to go… Time just wouldn't keep up.
It wasn't fair at all.
Fairness was a lie.
Fairness wouldn't allow such suffering to continue. He had done everything he needed to do to make things right. He knew it.
He knew it.
Years of training, years of endurance… the purpose of his life's dexterity had fulfilled its dream. The cause of his pain and suffering had been eliminated. Vengeance was achieved. It was over, finished… and in the works of being forgotten.
But the pain would never stop it would seem.
Not for him.
He couldn't escape suffering.
The black pools in his eyes shrank at the glaring red and white sign just above the last door. The words "Emergency Room" threatened him against entering and taunted him with its silent, authoritative power.
He wouldn't listen. Fuck following the rules; the door was too close now.
But before he could reach it, his vision was obstructed by a rabid blur of black and orange. The figure stood his ground and grabbed both his shoulders.
"Sasuke," Naruto said firmly. "You can't go in there."
"Either tell me what happened, or get the fuck out of my way..." Sasuke snarled.
In one quick motion, Naruto took hold of Sasuke's collar and slammed him against the wall. He wouldn't put up with his friend's arrogance at a time like this.
"They're keeping her alive in there!" the blonde hissed. "If you go in, you could mess everything up!"
"Get off me!"
"Like hell I will!"
"I'm warning you, dobe!"
Naruto made no effort to release the raging boy as he lowered his voice. "…I'll kill you before I let you touch that door."
The two best friends glared openly at one another. An intense silence surrounded them before Sasuke took hold of the hands clutching his collar and shoved them off. Naruto willingly backed away and took a seat on the opposite side of the waiting room. Sasuke, in turn, reluctantly took a seat on his own side.
After a good 5 minutes, one of them finally chose to speak.
"How is she?" the Uchiha asked quietly.Naruto glanced at him before returning his gaze to the floor. "Blows to the stomach, chest… It's mostly trauma, though…"
He stared at the blonde, anger radiating from his eyes. "Trauma…? Like to her head?"
Closing his eyes, the other boy shook his head slowly. "In her head. There's psychological trauma."
"WHAT?" Sasuke asked skeptically, the fury in his voice demanding an explanation.
"Something... happened to her mind... Genjutsu."
He continued to stare, the information just couldn't sink in. "Is... Will she...?"
"I don't know, Sasuke. She looked pretty bad."
"...How do you know all this?"
Naruto opened his eyes then, deep cerulean now hollow and glassy from his own traumatizing ordeal.
"I was the one who found her."
Through his years of training, Uzumaki Naruto had experienced terror in its many forms. He had felt the tremors during his darkest hours: fear from death, fear from those alive… but nothing could compare to this.
The cold stab of dread was slashing his chest.
Naruto was returning from a solo mission. It had been a simple delivery to one of the neighboring villages and he was back in less than a day. Just before reaching the south bridge, the brief flash of red and pink caught his eye. He had been sailing through the trees at the quickest speed he could muster; if he hadn't chosen that exact second to glance down, he would have missed her…
Sakura lay sprawled on her stomach with her head turned to the side. Dried blood caked her chin and part of her forehead while the majority matted her normally lustrous hair into a tangled mess.
Landing quickly by her side, Naruto carefully turned his friend over and cradled her against his lap.
"Sakura-chan! Speak to me, please! Are you okay? Sakura-chan!"
The most disturbing part however, was the expression on her face. Her eyes were wide open in terror as tears fell uncontrollably from her eyes. Short and rapid intakes of breath escaped her lips as the rest of her body shivered in unison.
She held no reaction to light, no reaction to touch…
Someone had scared Sakura into paralysis and beat her to a bloody pulp in the process.
"Sakura-chan, please…" he choked. "…Y-You're not… you're not saying anything! You have to say something! Tell me what hurts!"
Her green eyes, glassed over from the unrelenting tears, seemed to stare right through him.
He was afraid to move her. Blood was seeping from her clothes, from her lips… He had gone through this countless times: he had found friends, strangers… even Sasuke in near-death situations… but for some reason, he just wasn't prepared to find Sakura in such a state.
Something like this was not suppose to happen to someone like her.
Though she had given him a hard time growing up, Sakura was a loyal and devoted friend. She was sweet and caring, giving him advice or support—whatever he needed. She hadn't turned her back on him, she wasn't afraid of the demon housed in his body… Sakura had been there… unconditionally.
"Not you! You can't do this! Not you!"
He knew he was being childish, selfish even, but he didn't care. His own eyes began to sting as his lungs suddenly felt constricted of air."You're suppose to be here! Telling me to shut up and calm down!"
Sakura was still shaking, still terrified of something he couldn't see. His cherished teammate was suffering, even in the safety of his arms.
For her sake, he restrained himself from losing it.
"Okay, Sakura-chan…" Naruto whispered. "I'll make it stop… I'll make it stop, I promise."
He held her protectively against his chest, and with his free arm, pressed hard against a pressure point located on the back of Sakura's neck. Her body instantly went limp as he blessed her with the calming darkness of sleep, convinced that if her mind wasn't frozen in such a state of shock, she would've been passed out from the injuries that marred her body.
He prayed he had stopped her suffering, even if just temporarily.
Before carrying Sakura back to Konoha, Naruto had quickly scanned the surroundings and found the scattered remains of a massacred family. He wondered if the horrific sight to be seen was what traumatized his poor friend, but quickly dismissed the idea.
Sakura had seen tragedies like this before. Not to mention she was a nurse; blood and guts couldn't disturb her mind to such an extent—she was a hell of a lot stronger than that.
He would report the tragedy as soon as he got Sakura to a hospital. Naruto had risked his life trying to save Sasuke who was no where to be found for years… so he would be damned if he couldn't save the life of someone who had stuck by him.
Panic drove his adrenaline to move faster. Red chakra began to engulf his feet as he begged the fox demon within to lend him strength. The amazing speed he had acquired on his own just wasn't good enough.
Leaning forward on his chair, Sasuke interlocked his fingers against his forehead. He felt useless, and felt increasingly frustrated from feeling useless. There was nothing he could do. In any other case, he could unleash the power of his blood-red eyes, beat up massive amounts of people, or torch an entire landscape with his pyro techniques… but what good was any of that now? His skills were used to hurt people.
He couldn't help Sakura.
He couldn't do anything.
But one thing was for sure: he would find out who did this. If not from Sakura, then from any possible lead he could muster. He would threaten and interrogate till someone in the world cracked.
Although it was probably unnecessary.
From the symptoms described, the person would have to be a high-leveled genjutsu user. When he first heard of the incident, he immediately thought of Kabuto, and of how the medic shinobi had inquired about Sakura during his 'visit.' Ever since then, Sasuke had secretly feared that Kabuto would attempt to threaten Sakura's life as punishment for his refusal to return.
But for Sakura to be taken down so ruthlessly by another medic nin… it just didn't add up. Plus, if he recalled correctly, Kabuto didn't specialize in genjutsu. The only other people, that Sasuke knew of, in the entire world who could use genjutsu to such a devastating degree were Itachi and…
Would his previous sensei, that serpent son-of-a-bitch, really make the effort to leave his fucking throne, and…
His eyes widened in realization.
Just what had Kabuto told him? That bastard could've said anything to Orochimaru!
Glancing at the Emergency Room door, he knew he would have to wait to make sure. If his assumption was correct, then the next stepwas clear: he would simply kill both of them.
Looking up, Sasuke noticed the dobe had gone completely silent after explaining what had happened when he found Sakura.
"Did you tell Tsunade about the family?"
Naruto nodded absently. "She sent ANBU to investigate…"
He stared hard at his friend before turning away. The blonde was clearly devastated, so he wouldn't force anymore details out of him. Personally, he didn't think he could handle anymore, either.
Sasuke turned his attention back to the door at the end of the hallway; the sign was still lit, indicating occupancy.
The wait was excruciating. He had to be in that room, he had to know she was okay.
Gritting his teeth, Sasuke cursed inwardly. He had to know… that was what was fucked up about everything.
Ever since his return to Konoha…
It was nothing at first: dismissed as curiosity. But slowly and surely, he had to know about anything and everything that involved Haruno Sakura.
Where she was, when she'd be back, who she was with… he had made the effort to subtly find out the answers. If that didn't work, something inside him would snap, forcing him to blatantly demand an answer from the most reliable source.
To not know was irritating.
…And he didn't even know why.
After Sakura no longer needed to be his nurse, Sasuke just didn't like not having her around. And ever since the encounter with Kabuto, he didn't want her out of his sight all together. In fact, if enough time passed, he would seek her out on his own and mumble some lame-ass excuse if she ever asked why.
The truth was, he honestly didn't have an answer.
Not at first.
He was trying to come to terms with his feelings as quickly and as carefully as he knew how. Which, unfortunately, didn't make it any easier. He denied the most obvious answer for weeks, scoffing arrogantly at the idea and all its insanity.
But eventually, like every other life-altering event in his life, he knew he would just have to accept it.
Author's note: He won't come out and say it… not yet, anyway. The next chapter is a continuation of Chapter 14. And believe me, Sakura puts up a fight. She seems weak and defeated here, but it's all justified (especially when you find out what she actually went through) Also, Sakura will be awake in the hospital by then. Haha don't worry, I won't frustrate you guys by having her lose her memory or whatever. In this chapter, I originally wanted Sasuke to find her, but his reaction seemed out of character in the first couple drafts. I think Naruto expresses it a lot better.
Wow, this less than one-week deadline is hard to keep up with… I think I'll just say exactly one-week for the next one (Sorry guys… I find the pressure is affecting my writing.)
Naruto news: during episodes 181 and 182, my eyes just wandered. Haha oh man, I don't even care about what's going on anymore. The manga alone is keeping my faith alive.
Next chapter: one week