Hey! This is my first story posted here, and I'd like to give a thanks to my friend, Ian, for helping me edit!
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. They belong to Kishimoto Masashi.
Warning: A wee bit of angst and a few curse words.
Now on with the show...
Hands brought arms to encircle Sakura's waist as she felt the familiar feeling of a chin nestled in the nook of her neck. Sakura smiled, closed her eyes, and sighed, taking in the serenity of familiarity. Half opening her eyes, she returned to watching the rain until the quiet was broken.
"Dead-last will be fine." was whispered into her ear.
She slightly smiled at the affable nickname, and somberly replied, "I just don't like it when team seven is split up."
"We're all jounin now. It was bound to happen."
"I know. Doesn't change the way I feel though." A light chaste kiss was placed upon her neck. Sakura breathed in calmly and deeply. "I'd rather be on the mission." To protect them, she continued to herself.
"Kakashi is there."
"I'm worried about him as well."
"You worry too much." There was a slight pause where all either of them could hear was rain. Then Sasuke gave a gentle squeeze with his arms, and Sakura felt the warmth leave her as he went back to bed.
It would be a while until she followed him. The feeling she had just couldn't be facilitated. Maybe she was being superstitious, but she couldn't help but be on guard for the next bad happening. Things were too peaceful, too good.
As if always expecting the next bad occurrence would make me more prepared. Sakura grunted to herself, breathed deeply, and continued her watch. Naruto and Kakashi were returning later this morning. All she could do was wait.
Sakura made her way to Kohana's Northern gates at about six in the morning. Even without sleep, restlessness kept her wide-eyed. She tried to sneak out as quietly as she could, but she was sure Sasuke was aware the second she left their apartment. He was a habitual light sleeper with an uncanny ability to pinpoint her presence. Well, anybody's presence really, but it made her feel a bit more special if she thought it was just her presence he was sensitive to.
He never followed her when she left to meet the other members of their team after their missions despite the fact that she knew he was always a little worried. She snorted at the memory of how irritable, more so than usual, he was yesterday. His nerves were always more inflamed when the rest of the team was away. He had his own way of showing his worry just as she had her, albeit slightly more obsessive, way.
Sakura thought her way was endearing, and believed they loved her for it. Every time she would confidently state that fact, Sasuke just shook his head and called her annoying. Although, Sakura knew that if he didn't find it endearing himself then he wouldn't be in their relationship right now so she never took his words to heart.
It was the same with the rest of her precious people. If they did find it annoying, they wouldn't be around her. They enjoyed it when she was at the gate to greet their return even if she played the role of mother hen a little too perfectly. She was sure of it.
Shinobi tended to hate hospitals for varying reasons. Her teammates were no exception. So she called them big babies, and brought the hospital to them. Being one of hell of a medical ninja, in her humbled opinion, allowed her the flexibility to do so.
They are damn lucky to have me, Sakura thought as she landed in front of the gate. Taking her usual position of leaning against the village walls, she took up her normal waiting routine. Eyes gently slid closed as she sharpened her hearing with chakra to listen to the morning bird songs. She'd taken up this little hobby out of boredom as much as out of necessity for missions. During meditation she could pick up every bird within a 5 miles radius and identify them. This not only helped calm her down, but she could hear the particular bird call used by an incoming team signaling the gate sentries to let them into Kohona. And she would be there for that exact moment.
When Sasuke finished his morning workout, it was about eleven in the AM, he judged by the position of the sun. Normally by now Sakura would be hopping about in escalation begging him to come eat an early lunch with the rest of the team. Sure at that moment he'd be glad her incessant worrying was over, (her restlessness caused no one in the household to sleep), but then it would also bring the unwanted noise with blonde hair. There's always something, he thought, exasperated.
However, to his surprise, Sakura hadn't come by yet. Sometimes no annoying noise meant more trouble than constant interruptions. Since Sasuke was done with training he figured he might as well check on a few things. He had some errands to run anyway. He leisurely strolled from the training grounds. No need to hurry because there is nothing to worry about anyway.
Sakura, eyes closed and foot slowly tapping, heard footsteps from the opposite direction of where she wanted to hear them. She turned her head to see a familiar figure.
"I stopped at the hospital already." Sasuke's eyes met a worn out green gaze.
"They aren't back yet." Sakura could tell Sasuke was studying her completely even though he hid his meticulous scrutiny well from others. She read him like a book. Well, a book in code, but she could read him nonetheless. He was worried too, especially if he checked the hospital first. He was worried about Naruto and Kakashi, and, from the slight furrow of his brow, about her as well.
"You didn't sleep. Come on, you need your rest." He turned without fully waiting for her. He knew she'd follow him.
Sakura gave one last worried look to the gate, sighed, and trailed Sasuke home.
Later that day, before her shift at the hospital, she had checked with her shishou on the status of her boys. Tsunade explained the last bird note she'd received had said their mission was successful and their four man cell would return home on time.
When Tsunade told her it was a simple escort mission and the only reason four jounin were needed was because of the societal status of the escort, Sakura figured she must have been really transparent because Tsunade obviously was trying to make her feel better. Although, even with her Shishou telling her that a simple genin team complete the mission, it didn't quell the feeling inside. Especially since that night during her hospital shift, she had more ninja to treat than usual.
The next day had proven even more trying. Sasuke became more irritable at home, and that didn't make matters for her better. Sakura told him so, which started a fight and led to Sasuke spending most of his time at the training grounds.
Sakura then decided to pull a double shift at the hospital to give them both some time to calm down.
During her second shift, when Sakura stepped off the elevator, her day went from bad to worse.
"Sakura! Sakura! Room 217! Hurry!" Shizune yelled while running down the hall. She was followed by 6 other medics. Sakura took off running in time to see Shizune split off into another room. Shizune stopped and ordered, "Sakura take room 217, and I'll take the patient in here. Three of you follow Sakura. I don't care who, but do it fast!"
Sakura burst into the room to find another medic who was already starting an I.V., an unknown jounin, and a sight she never wanted to see again. She abruptly stopped and gasped, "What happened? Report!"
"There was an ambush at the end of their mission. I was among the retrieval team. We intercepted the team, and brought them back as quickly as possible," respectfully recounted the jounin.
Sakura gave the jounin a quick once over with her eyes, walked over to her assigned patient and said, "Karin," the medic with the dark hair turned to Sakura, "take him to another room and give him a check up."
"C'mon Sir." Karin led the reluctant jounin out of the room and Sakura turned to her patient.
"Kakashi," she breathed and immediately placed her hands just above his chest assessing his injuries. After a brief moment of a green glow, Sakura ordered, "Hitoshi, go get me two units of Type O neg. He'll need blood."
"Are you sure that's his blood type? Shouldn't I screen it?"
"He's part of my team! Of course I'm sure. Go!" Sakura's ire called for urgency as everyone in the hospital knew. Knowing this, the brown haired man ran from the room.
Sakura then turned to a blonde haired woman,"Aki, stop the internal bleeding in the spleen and kidneys. I got the right lung and stomach."
"Yes, ma'am." Aki quickly moved to Kakashi's left side.
"Nao, go get a team ready to perform the repairing jutsu. You'll need time to set up, and we still need to stabilize him before we can close the wounds themselves."
"Alright!" Nao ran out of the room.
Two differing shades of green light bathed the pale Kakashi as Sakura and Aki worked to stabilize his fragile state. Just as Sakura finished the lung she felt a small jerk from within Kakashi. Her eyes widened as she realized it was his heart.
"Shit! He's tachycardic." Sakura moved her hands until she was right over Kakashi's heart. "You have to stop the bleed in the stomach as well. I have to try to slow his heart!" A response wasn't heard from Aki, but she knew Aki would obey her.
A full minute of trying to calm the heart and control the hormones from the brain signaling the heart to speed, Sakura felt frustration take hold of her rational medic mind. She knew if she couldn't stabilize the heart, it would fail, and Kakashi would die.
Sakura expressed her exasperation and grunted, "Where the hell is Hitoshi with the blood? He needs it for his heart to regulate, and we could use an extra pair of hands, damn it!"
"Neither of us can make blood cells for him if we're already working on other problems!" Aki, also fed up with her frustration, while keeping up with her own ministrations, turned her head toward the door. "If there's anyone out there, we need another medic nin in here immediately!"
The lack of answer only made the air in the room heavier and more desperate.
All Sakura felt was indignation. This situation was harrowing and dire and just plain shitty. The fact that Kakashi's heart wouldn't obey her will set Sakura's blood to boil. "I swear you obstinate man, if you don't stabilize right now… if you die, I'll find a way to resurrect you, and kill you myself!"
"Don't even think of doing something as foolish as that."
Sakura looked up to the voice, "Tsunade-sama!"
"No one's dying today." Tsunade smiled in reassurance, and explained her presence with "An aid in the hall heard someone say they needed an extra set of hands."
Sakura relieved, smiled and Aki responded under her breath with something that sounded like a "Thank God."
Tsunade walked over beside Sakura as Sakura filled her in on Kakashi's status. "He needs blood. Because there isn't enough of it, the heart's tachycardic." Her eyes narrowed in frustration, "He's not responding to my chakra."
"Don't worry. I'm on it!" Tsunade set to work restoring Kakashi's blood volume by creating new blood cells.
A few seconds later Hitoshi ran in exclaiming, "Here's the blood!" Without being told, he went about hooking up another I.V.
"Set the I.V. wide open, he- " Tsunade begun to instruct Hitoshi, but was interrupted by a frustrated scream.
"No!" Sakura felt Kakashi's heart stop.
"Damn it Kakashi, you're not dying today!" Tsunade exclaimed as Sakura continued to shock his heart with her chakra.
Even fifty feet from his team, Kakashi could still hear Naruto's voice in an argument, obviously, with his other male teammate. A few years apart coupled with a few more years of healing when Sasuke returned brought the team to a near comfortable place. Sure, small things were changed, but the overall dynamic stayed the same. Knowing this, Kakashi thought it was best to show himself before the boys attempted "teammate-acide."
A well placed puff of smoke and along with a well placed body later, Kakashi appeared right in the middle of the fray. A frazzled and clearly pissed kunoichi with a fist full of chakra was holding back an irate blond from a smirking Uchiha. Kakashi sighed. Unfortunately, the overall dynamic sure remained the same alright.
"I want you three to sit over there." Kakashi commanded, and pointed to a thick-trunk maple tree.
"I don't want to sit near the bastard!" Naruto exclaimed while he dramatically pointed at the dark haired man. Sasuke scoffed, Naruto flipped him off, Sakura's fists clenched, and Kakashi rolled his one visible eye.
Sarcastically thanking the third who deigned them his responsibility, Kakashi gave another sigh, and stated in a tone that left no room for dissent, "Fine. Sakura, you sit between these two. Don't hesitate to use that strength of yours as you see fit."
A devilish grin crept over Sakura's face, Naruto visibly cringed at the promise of wrath, and Sasuke lifted an eyebrow.
Kakashi smiled, sometimes Sakura's anger could be used to his advantage. "Sit." He commanded and they complied.
"With the jounin exam in just a week, and the possibility of team seven being spilt for some missions after you three pass- "
"Hell yeah we're going to pass!" interrupted an enthused Naruto.
"Naruto," Sakura's warning didn't go unnoticed by the normally oblivious blonde. A noise that sounded like a mouse squeaked from his mouth as he scurried a few feet away. Sasuke smirked.
"As I was saying. There's something I want to teach you three as a last lesson, but instead of you learning it through experience, I want to teach you earlier with words. And there is no better time than right before you become full fledged grown shinobi."
Kakashi waited until he had his soon-to-be-equals' attention before he continued, "There was a time in my life where I believed if I followed the rules, I could prevent anything. What I didn't realize is that life has no real rules. Because I was obsessed with rules, I lost someone very important to me. Yet, I still didn't understand the lesson I was meant to learn, and even disobeying said rules, I couldn't prevent the bad situations.
"Still I had tried, and soon, I had lost everyone precious.
"Then I attempted to prevent the bad by not having precious things. If I didn't have good, then bad couldn't take it away.
"However, after a while, I found important people again. I learned, albeit a bit late, that living in the good, even with the bad still around, is something we shinobi must always do. Afterall, who knows when the unfortunate situations would come around again?"
Kakashi looked over his three pupils for signs of understanding.
Naruto sat in a rare contemplative state. He understood always wanting to be with the good. After all, it's what kept him happy.
Sasuke's gaze wondered over in his other two teammates' direction. He decided he could relate, even just a little, after witnessing all the bad in his life.
And Sakura had her head down, face, for once, unreadable.
"Understand?" Kakashi asked after a long pause.
Sakura focused on a blade of grass she twirled between her thumb and forefinger. She had heard every word of Kakashi's lesson, but she didn't feel as eased as she usually did after one of Kakashi's talks. Her mind was racing.
We already lost Sasuke once, and Akatsuki's still after Naruto. Plus missions… something bad… someday, I might end up loosing …. She morosely looked between the three of her boys.
The cool breeze felt like it ran straight through Sakura's being, drying her tears inside and out. What tears the wind missed, the arms that just encircled her waist caught.
"Sasuke-kun," whispered Sakura.
"We saved him." She felt Sasuke's slight smile against her cheek. "And Naruto's fine, too. Just exhausted."
Sasuke snorted, "That idiot carried Kakashi despite his own injuries more than halfway from the Grass Country." Sakura's smile was real, but still feeble as Sasuke saw by her expression that she still had something on her mind. Knowing she'd tell him when her thoughts and words were sorted, he waited a few minutes until she spoke again.
"Do you remember the time just before the jounin exam when Kakashi sat us down for that talk." Sakura felt Sasuke nod and continued, "I've been so foolish."
Sasuke's hug tightened as he asked, "Foolish?"
"I didn't pay attention to the real lesson Kakashi was trying to teach us." Sakura's voice was full of emotion and laced with regret. "I kept looking for the bad instead of looking for the good."
Trying to convey comfort, Sasuke nuzzled Sakura's neck, "The good things." Sakura hummed a yes, and as Sasuke continued, the multiple implications of his words were not lost on Sakura, "Sometimes we have to walk in the bad to see the good."
Sakura couldn't agree more. Standing within the comfort of her love, knowing two of her precious people, who were in danger, now would maintain their presence in her life, Sakura finally understood Kakahi's lesson.
In life, where good and bad resided, where the good departed just as quickly as it entered, it's the simple things that must be treasured within the moment they come. It's imperative to not look for the bad, to not wait only on the next disaster, but to cherish what was given even if it lasted only a second in time.
A/N: I picked the names from an online Japanese name dictionary. One name in particular... Karin... well, I've also been a bit Bleach obsessed lately. I love how this name is pronounced, and in honor of the dub (which premiered a week ago) saying the name right, I'm using it in this story. I didn't use her personality obviously or the character herself. But Karin's father is a doctor in Bleach so she might be a doc, too. Heh, that's my attempt at being crafty. Didn't say it was a good one xD
listened to while writing:
"Home" by Ellis Paul,
"You" from Samurai Champloo OST,
and "Elvis" by Alpha from the Nip/Tuck soundtrack.
Anyway, I had fun writing this, and I hope everyone enjoys! ttfn)