Little Piece of Heaven
"I'm sorry, Uchiha-san… but Sakura-san checked herself out early this morning."
Clutching the doorframe, Sasuke stood rooted to his spot as he gaped openly at the empty hospital bed.
"She checked herself out?" he repeated. "You can't release her in that condition!"
The nurse, who was casually smoothing the sheets on what was once Haruno Sakura's bed, didn't appear fazed by the dark-haired boy's foul temper.
"She said she felt well enough to take care of herself," the woman answered simply. From the corner of her eye, she glanced at Sasuke knowingly. "And if I recall correctly, you did the exact same thing a couple months ago."
Releasing a growl of exasperation, he rammed a fist against the doorframe. "Alright fine," he replied grudgingly. "Did she at least say where she was going?"
"No, but Sakura-san was instructed to go straight home."
She better have… Nodding tersely, Sasuke left the room and proceeded to exit the hospital, cursing the thought of having to search for her. Truthfully, he didn't even like having Sakura out of his sight when she was healthy.
But if she was out of bed and wandering around, than she was well enough to continue their previous conversation. He had calmly stayed by her bedside and restrained himself from shaking the truth out of her on more than one occasion. Sakura had been in that hospital bed for two days; sleeping whenever she got the chance, yet she almost always woke up screaming.
He couldn't stand it. Catching that brief flash of terror in her eyes only served to infuriate him further. Sasuke needed the truth, and one way or another, he was going to get it.
But watching as she hastily brushed the tears from her eyes and smiling at him as if nothing had happened… He didn't want to force anything out of Sakura while her spirit was so fragile. So, gritting his teeth, he sat there and watched over her, willing her to rest with the reassurance of his protection.
"Hey… Sasuke?" she had asked the other night. "Can I… ask you a question?"
Following his usual arrogant trademarks, he quirked an eyebrow. "I never stopped you before."
The room was pitch-black. Yet somehow, she knew he had been awake. Staring absently into the hospital ceiling, she turned her head and deterred her gaze, only to find blackness occupying the tiny space. Nevertheless, Sasuke's strong presence was felt by her side.
"… Is life everything you expected it to be after defeating your brother?"
Without seeing him, she had felt him go stiff in his chair.
There was silence as Sasuke frowned at her in puzzlement. He could barely make out her figure in the darkness of the room, but he knew that she was fully aware of the question she had asked.
Months ago, he had given her the answer. Why was she bringing it up again?
"You asked me that already."
"I know," she said quietly. "You told me 'not everything'… What were you talking about?"
"It doesn't matter."
"You said that, too."
He scowled instantly. "So then you know my answer. Leave it alone."
Lifting herself to a sitting position, Sakura hissed painfully at the stress her body was enduring from the effort. Concern rapidly replacing his annoyance, Sasuke rose quickly from his chair and held her shoulders securely.
"You're going to hurt yourself," he hissed. "What do you need?"
"Tell me…" she said softly, grabbing at his shirt collar for support. "Tell me what changed…"
"Are you delirious?" the Uchiha asked skeptically. "You were only suppose to take one of those yellow pills."
At a closer proximity, the darkness failed, and they could see each other clearly with their faces inches apart.
"Sasuke," she said seriously. "Just… tell me. Tell me everything, okay? I want to hear it."
He narrowed his eyes in confusion. "Tell you …what? How life wasn't what I expected when I came back?" Sakura opened her mouth to respond, but he continued on angrily. "What the hell do you need to know? I'm getting punished for leaving, my estate was weirdly still intact, the dobe's wearing black and orange instead of white and orange, and you—" He stopped himself quickly. "You… you really…"
Sakura watched silently as Sasuke's eyes drifted briefly from hers.
"…Need to go back to sleep." He met her gaze once more. "We'll talk in the morning, Sakura."
He had woken up before the pink-haired kunoichi early the next morning, giving himself what seemed like an ample amount of time to go home, shower, and come back. So he was indeed surprised to find an empty hospital bed waiting for him upon his return.
She had escaped him for now… but it wouldn't be hard to find her.
It took a deep breath with her face in her hands to slowly uncover her eyes to the sun. Leaning her head back against a tree trunk, Sakura gazed at the sky. Though the light was blinding, she kept her eyes half-lidded, allowing the harsh rays to only filter through the cracks of her long eyelashes.
Sighing, she took a moment to be alone with her thoughts. After all, she had left abruptly and without saying a word: Sasuke would be pissed.
With his quick instinct and expert interrogation skills, she calculated the Uchiha could find her in a very short amount of time. Knowing this, she went straight home, grabbed any old kimono, and left quickly. She would not stay there, nor would she go to her parents' house to 'hide'. There really wasn't anything Sakura was trying to escape from… But just for a little while, she wanted to be alone.
So, in the forest just outside the training grounds, Sakura rested peacefully in the embrace of nature's serenity. She could think about things logically without the distorting distraction of painkillers or a certain someone's ridiculing presence.
The brightness was too much, so she slowly closed her eyes… rather enjoying the soft orange glow that surfaced behind her eyelids. Feeling herself at peace, Sakura finally asked herself the question she had ignored for days: What the hell was she doing?
At first it seemed like a slip of the tongue… if it were in fact possible for an entire sentence to slip at one go. Sasuke had asked plain and simple who had attacked her, and the truth had gotten stuck in her throat. What upchucked instead was an obvious lie that didn't even sound convincing to her.
"Someone attacked me and left," her head repeated sarcastically. Brilliant. Should've just said I tripped and fell.
As pretty as it didn't sound, she had no choice but to stick with it.
Well, that was a lie too. Of course she had a choice. She could've just as easily pointed her bent, broken finger at Orochimaru and spared the stress on her and her teammates. It was her own selfless extremities that declared she had no choice.
She couldn't tell Sasuke. He was an avenger… that was the kind of person he was. And she couldn't have him exploding from the hospital in a screaming tirade right into Orochimaru's waiting presence.
The trouble was, if she named Orochimaru, she would have to explain the details; namely the fact that her life was in danger if Sasuke didn't return to the snake man at once.
And if what Orochimaru said was true…
"…Sasuke's new objective in life…"
Then he would surely protect her.
Sakura's small fists immediately clenched in frustration. THAT was what she couldn't understand the most. In a desperate attempt, and with her bravery somewhat fueled by heavy medication, she had tried to coax the truth out of him the night before.
This, of course, failed miserably. Yet, the smallest hint had fallen through the cracks of his stubborn, leave-me-alone antics.
Though Sasuke had misunderstood her plea to tell her everything, he had still let something leak. While absently mentioning her name during his snarky retort, he had frozen like a deer in a barrage of headlights. She knew he had wanted to say something… something that involved her, no doubt, but the dark-haired prodigy had recovered quickly and manipulated the situation without breaking a sweat. Clever, clever boy.
The whole idea was still completely foreign: Sasuke had… feelings…for…? Why was it so hard to even say in her thoughts?
Would he? Maybe.
Does he? Don't know.
If he did, Sakura wanted to hear it more than anything in the world. It was so confusing, yet so… There was no adjective she could pinpoint for something that was pending an emotion. She wanted the truth, but she had no idea what her reaction would be. For some reason though, if she were wrong, the reaction would fall under old habits and she'd move on with her life in a second.
"Hey Sasuke! Do you have feelings for me?"
"Oh, okay then… See ya tomorrow!"
But if her assumption was right…
"Hey Sasuke! Do you have feelings for me?"
She had no response. Not yet anyway…
Sasuke ended the conversation that night by stating they would 'talk in the morning', so calmly and quietly the next day, she ran for her life. It was a lucky break for her that Sasuke was no where to be seen.
Truthfully, Sakura wasn't running from Sasuke, so to speak… but from the inevitable conversation at hand. She needed time to think and to prepare her answers as best as she could. The truth was uglier than the lie, and she was determined to keep Sasuke in the aesthetics of her imagination. He would be grumpy and frustrated with her for a while, but he'd eventually leave it alone.
Silence was the only thing to be heard from behind Sakura's door. If she was there, she was really trying his patience. After knocking his fist against the door one last time, Sasuke effortlessly kicked it open.
A quick glance around told him the tiny apartment was empty.
"Fuck…" You'd think a nurse would know better than this…
He left hastily, making sure to prop the door back up before leaving. The next place to search of course was the home she grew up in. Sakura's parents had been gone for a while on an A-Rank mission, so he knew the house was empty… or at least he hoped it wasn't… if Sakura was resting there than this ridiculous game of hide-and-seek would be over.
Sasuke leaped with amazing speed over the rooftops until he landed outside Sakura's old bedroom on the balcony. Moving the white, billowing curtain out of his way, he scanned the room quickly.
Smirking, he jumped from the balcony and continued on his way. She wasn't making this easy, but he was always the type to welcome a challenge.
After ruling out the possibilities and asking several residents if they'd spotted the pink-haired girl, Sasuke soon found himself walking through the woods by the training grounds. Surely enough, he soon found her petite figure curled up at the base of a tree.
Wearing a plain red kimono and using the sleeves to cushion her head, Sakura slept peacefully in the cool, summer shade. It seems that while in the midst of sorting through her chaotic thoughts, she had wearily drifted to sleep.
Being too lost in her serene paradise; however, she had barely noticed when Sasuke placed a hand on her shoulder and gently shook her awake.
"Sakura," he said plainly.
A childish whine escaped her as she lazily batted his hand away. He grunted his disdain and promptly took hold of both her shoulders, forcing her into a sitting position.
"What are you doing?" Sakura yawned.
"Get up. I'm taking you back to the hospital."
That did it. Immediately her eyes sprung open. "What? Why? I'm fine!"
"Compared to what?" Sasuke snapped.
"Are you blind?" she hissed angrily. "Look! I'm up and about! I'm healing fine on my own!"
He paused to look her up and down. "Are you lying to me?"
"Good. Then since you're so healthy, you can answer a couple questions for me."
Aw, crap. Biting her lip, she tried her best to look unfazed. "Okay…" Getting up steadily to her feet, her hands smoothed the fabric of her kimono before clasping together.
Sasuke didn't waste much time. Grabbing her elbow, he backed her up against the tree behind her. A startled yelp escaped the kunoichi as he practically pushed her against it before planting a hand on either side of her head.
"Tell me who hurt you," he repeated darkly. It certainly wasn't a question… a direct order was more like it.
"I told you…" Sakura began hesitantly.
"Just because I left it alone for a couple days, doesn't mean I'm letting it go, so just tell me already."
"I told you everything, Sasuke…!" she winced as a wash of annoyance gripped his features. It was a look he gave her all too often when they were kids. "What do you want?"
"I want you to stop lying to me, Sakura."
She glared at him then; the fiery emeralds warning him against going any further with his actions. "I don't… expect you to understand…" she muttered quietly.
His own black eyes narrowed in response. "Don't talk to me like that."
With what little strength she had, Sakura attempted to push the stronger boy off, but she could only struggle against his sudden firm restraints. Nevertheless, it didn't stop her from letting her inner frustrations find relief through her vocal chords.
"This isn't your problem, it's mine! And I don't need you interrogating me like this!"
"Of course it's my damn problem! Some bastard almost killed you and they're getting away with it!"
"WHY?" she snarled angrily "Why do you have to be the one who punishes them?!"
He scoffed. "You're my responsibility."
Surprise illuminated her eyes before returning to their cold, calculating fury. "I never asked to be taken care of like a child…" she hissed. "I never asked you! Who the hell made me your responsibility?"
Blinking at the question, Sasuke remained stoic as he leaned in closer, forcing the kunoichi to lean deeper against the tree to avoid the loss of her breathing rights. He appeared to frown at her initial reaction, but proceeded to close the space.
Author's note: Sasuke's perspective is slowly being introduced… I still avoid going too indepth though. The next chapter's gonna continue with the SasuSaku goodness! Anyway, I was asked a couple times if my story's already finished. The answer is no. In fact, I will begin writing the next chapter as soon as I submit this one. In the very beginning I had chapters done in advance, but now it's all done on the fly.
Naruto news: (ch. 307) He's… really, REALLY tall… In comparison to Naruto, anyway... Meow.
Next chapter: one week.