Author: desolate butterfly
Genre: gen, angst
Summary: Sakura's job as a medic-nin takes its toll, and Naruto and Sasuke try to help as best they can.
It's strange to find out that Sakura's job is the one that Team Seven has to maneuver around the most.
They had been expecting the disruptions of Naruto's new Gennin team on their domesticity; the demands on his time from the new crop of rookies looking to become full shinobi at the sometimes overly enthusiastic prompting of their sensei were anticipated and allowed for.
Even Sasuke had become used to answering the door to find a wide-eyed, snot-nosed child asking after Naruto-sensei or waking up to a crowded kitchen of midget ninjas at their table, pushing insistently on Naruto's sleeves while Sakura scooped rice into bowls and set them out on the table.
Sasuke's position in ANBU was a bit more difficult to get used to, since there was no set schedule to rely on; just a space of time when Sasuke would get his mask down from the bedroom closet and set it by the bed the day before he left on a mission.
There was a certain amount of routine in the response to that placement of the mask, because Sakura would find a way, in the next five hours or so, to prepare a nice quiet meal for Sasuke; and Naruto would wander away from his team long enough to punch Sasuke in the arm and tell him to be careful or else, which would lead to a satisfying wrestling match and a few marks on both boys that they could carry to remind them of the other; and later that night all three of them would find the time to lie together.
They didn't always have sex (sometimes Sasuke needed all the sleep he could muster) but they could at least twine around each other until the dawn took Sasuke away from them.
And then Sasuke would come home and bathe while Sakura tried to scrub the blood-stains out of his uniform and Naruto pestered to get inside the locked bathroom door. Except, of course, for when Sasuke would come home injured and then Naruto would rip Sasuke out of his shirt while Sakura counted cuts and bruises and taped and stitched and sterilized in silence while Naruto talked.
They expected Sasuke to be more difficult, because of the killing, but Sasuke had been killing for years and allowances were made in ANBU for the occasional moment in which an operative would privately and briefly break and shatter and put themselves back together again.
And at the end of the day, Sasuke could admit to himself that his job was killing people who needed killing, for whatever reason, and put it away.
It was different with Sakura.
The night calls were the worst, because they were like small nightmares.
An assistant medic would come like some anxious, fretting demon to pull Sakura from the warm cocoon of their bed and out into the darkened streets of Konoha towards the hospital.
There was usually no time for anything but a hurried goodbye before she was ushered away, her medical pack slung across her shoulder, eyes fuzzed with sleep but focused and determined.
And then Naruto would whine and curl into Sasuke's shoulder instead of her soft breast and they would wait.
If Sakura didn't come back in three hours, Sasuke would get up and sit in the living room until she appeared, tired but smiling, in the doorway.
Naruto would roll onto his back and stare at the ceiling and ignore his growling stomach.
They would wait.
If Sakura didn't come back by daybreak, that meant it was a bad one, and Sasuke would go to the hospital and retrieve her.
They had decided that Sasuke would go, because where Naruto would try to cajole and coax and wheedle Sakura out of the clinic (with varying degrees of success), all Sasuke had to do was give Sakura a stern look and say "that's enough" and she would bow her head and allow him to take her back home.
Sometimes the medic-nins would look relieved when Sasuke showed up to take Sakura home. Sometimes they would argue and Sasuke would have to give them a 'look'. Only Tsunade had the pull to keep Sakura at the hospital past her limits, and she rarely did so.
The bad ones were when Sakura lost a patient and once Sasuke got her home he'd leave her to Naruto, because he never quite knew what to say or how to comfort her properly.
Then again, Naruto never seemed to say much. He'd open him arms and Sakura would crawl into them and cry and he'd whisper bits of soothing nonsense while Sasuke watched awkwardly from the doorway and eventually left them alone to do the practical things, like rearrange Naruto's schedule with his Gennin and make lunch.
Eventually, Sakura would emerge from the bedroom with red eyes and shaky limbs and she would fall into a chair while Sasuke pushed a mug of tea into her hands and Naruto fussed with her hair and insulted Sasuke's cooking until she smiled again.
The times when Sakura didn't cry meant days of silence and awkwardness that would end with Sasuke retrieving Sakura from the hospital again and again until her guilt was assuaged by success.
The worst ones were the cases in which Sakura was made to heal criminal nins for interrogation purposes.
They would come in with broken bones, concussions, sleep deprivation, cuts and bruises and near-strangulation, poisoning (often from botched suicide attempts), and she would heal them completely and then wait a few days for them to be brought back and healed again.
One time, Sakura confessed to Naruto that she had thought about killing these patients and relieving their suffering. It would have been easy. A little misplaced chakra, a small drug miscalculation, and nothing that could be traced.
"She said she didn't want to betray Konoha," Naruto said to Sasuke later on, obviously troubled by the weight of this confession, "It's just that she feels like she's betraying herself every time she heals them. It's not fair, Sasuke. They shouldn't make her do that."
And Sasuke didn't have anything to say to that, because of course it wasn't fair, but someone had to do it anyway. And they had learned long ago that asking Sakura to resign her medic-nin position wouldn't get them anywhere.
So they go on, pretending things are normal until Sakura is pulled from sleep again, and both boys would fall apart a bit in trying to put her back together.
The rings around Sakura's eyes grow darker as the days progress and Naruto goes to see Tsunade who is concerned, but resolute.
Sakura is the best medic-nin of her time and Konoha cannot spare her services.
Naruto begins to take each injury his Gennin team sustains in their travels as a personal offense.
Sasuke begins to push his blade in a bit too deep to save his targets for interrogation.
They hope it's enough.