Title: Alcestis Again
A SasukexSakura oneshot, implies NarutoxHinata
Disclaimer: I will own Naruto when addicts put down their crack.
"Mommy," The girl padded toward her mother, who was busy cleaning out a gold-barred cage. "Mommy what happened to the other bird?"
The tall, slender woman finished her chore, setting the cage aside to face her rosy daughter.
"Because Sakura, they were love birds."
The child blinked her innocent green eyes, "So?"
The mother smiled and bent down to talk to her on a level. "You remember that the other bird died, right?"
Tuffs of pink hair flapped as she nodded vigorously as children do. A gentle smile appeared on the red-haired woman's lips.
"Love birds mate for life, Sakura. They live forever with their one partner. When one of them dies the other one... just fades away."
The girl pouted. "Why would they do that?"
The Haruno matron chuckled softly at her child's cheek. "So they can be together, Sakura... even in death."
The medic paused, shaking her head softly as a whimsical smile breezed onto her lips.
"What an odd thing to remember at a time like this." The kunoichi murmured to herself, closing the burlap bag and tying its ends together.
Even in death huh? Giving her head one final, firm toss; the Hokage's apprentice slung her medical bag over her shoulder and stepped out of the room. However, she had gotten no further than three steps when a heavy object hurdled into her, causing the woman to use her chakra to stabilize her feet to keep herself and the person that had just hit her from falling. A head of black hair greeted her as she released her hold the other figure.
"Shizune?" It was odd for the normally collected and organized medical ninja to be sprinting throughout the hallways of the hospital, no less.
Her pretty, oval face was flushed from the run and Shizune spoke after a scarce moment of regaining her breath.
"Sakura, It's ...It's," Her dark eyes were wide, and it seemed as though the older woman hardly believed the news herself.
Concern replacing curiosity, Haruno offered her support as her chartreuse eyes narrowed in worry. "What is it? Did something bad happen Shizune? Is Tsunade-sensei in trouble? Is it Oto?"
Shizune shook her head, regaining composure as best she could. "No, It's Naruto... He's returned."
For a moment, the distinct girl only stared in confusion. Sure Naruto hadn't been seen since he left with Jiriaya four years ago, but...
Why would his return cause this much chaos? They had to know he was coming back.
And then she remembered exactly why her former teammate's homecoming had been delayed two years. The implications slammed into her chest and knocked the air out, verdant eyes going wide.
"Did he... is?" Form coherent words, idiot! The younger ninja berated herself.
With anxious eyes, Shizune nodded. "Uchiha is with him, bu—hey, wait!"
The Hokage's top apprentice wasted her breath. The final member of Cell 7 was already racing through the hall, putting shame to her own pace.
"And then I used the same seal that the Fourth used on... well, anyways this really awesome jutsu and then Jiriaya reinforced it and Tsunade-sama too; so that snake bastard is stuck in there so tight his demented mind will just run out of air. Now all we have to deal with is this bastard."
"Idiot." Sasuke replied swiftly.
Sakura smiled softly, though her glorious mood had been somewhat dampened by a new revelation. It had been two weeks since the return of Team 7's shinobi. The first week both boys were under Tsunade's strict care and nearly dead after killing both Itachi and Orochimaru. However, the second week, while both nearly bed-ridden, they had woken up to find their favorite kunoichi looking after them. However, in seven days two words had yet to be spoken, and she had a ominous thought that they never would be.
Because in their own strange way, those words had been a sign of their friendship. And even though all three ninja were together again, their were holes. Large, gaping ones—try four years and a betrayal.
"Sakura, Oi Sakura-chan!" Naruto's frantic waving and shouting brought her back down from her thoughts.
The medic smiled, a little too cheerfully. She couldn't pull of the blonde's 'happy act'. "Sorry Naruto! My thoughts seem to run everywhere these days."
Sasuke stayed silent, listening to the exchange while his dark eyes analyzed her.
Oh crap... The green-eyed individual thought as she bit her tongue. It was coming again. She knew it in the way her mind suddenly pressed against her like a migraine, and how much more aware she was of the smell of blood and bile while neither of them were present.
The Kyuubi stopped his antics, blue eyes filling with worry.
"Hey, Sakura are you okay? Your face got really pale there for a second..."
I have to get out of here before they find out... The kunoichi kept up the rapidly dissolving charade, trying to find some excuse to leave without further questioning. Apparently, there was some god watching over her, for the hospital door clicked open and Tsunade stood there, in all her dominating beauty. Her intelligent amber eyes scanned the room, and a faint frown lined her forehead as they rested on her pupil.
"Sakura, I need to speak to the two of these boys alone for a moment." The Fifth spoke carefully, seeming to be choosing to add something else.
However, some secret message was conveyed without words, and the coral-haired female smartly stood and nodded, her eyes flashing in understanding.
"Of course, Tsunade-sensei."
Three pairs of eyes watched her walk toward the door and listened as it clicked shut. Then, fast as lightening, two pairs diverted from the golden-hued one.
The blonde woman took her seat. "I trust you both are healthy."
Uneasy, the nine tails gave a shake while the traitor gave a short nod. Tsunade flashed them a would-be casual smile.
"Good, because it's time for us to have a little chat about all the trouble you two boys put us in..."
Tsunade didn't turn as she heard her loyal companion enter the office. The young woman fidgeted for a moment, sifting papers and stacking them mindlessly while her mentor waited for her to gather up courage. They knew each other—and sometimes drove each other crazy—but it was always them.
"Tsunade-sama," Shizune finally began softly, clutching Ton-Ton to her breast.
The Hokage chose not to look into those dark eyes, and instead mindlessly scanned a report.
The poison specialist shifted once more, but refused to drop her gaze. "Did you tell them?"
There was no point in playing dumb anymore. Besides, Shizune is worried too. The slug sanin thought slightly bitterly.
"No," Caramel orbs locked onto a stiffened medic.
"I know Haruno-chan didn't want us to tell... but Tsunade-sama, they should know what they d—"
"I want them to know just as bad as you did, and under any under circumstances I would have told them." The powerful kunoichi cut her off, eyes wandering again.
The manicured hands folded themselves and the Fifth let her head rest on them for a moment. Her eyes shut in thoughts and reflection and a silent pause swept before she spoke again.
"But Sakura is my apprentice, Shizune, just as you are. And I am supposed to be the top medical ninja in the Fire Country."
"Tsunade-sama..." The black-haired kunoichi murmured, suddenly understanding.
"But I cannot save her..." Just like Dan and Nawaki. Call it idiocy, but I feel that I owe her that wish."
The other medic was silent for now, her thoughts elsewhere.
All this power I have... it seems to mean nothing when it comes to the people I care about. The female sanin admitted silently.
Damn you Orochimaru.
"Something is wrong." Sasuke stated coldly as he sat with his former best friend in the unnaturally quiet hospital room.
"Yeah I know." The blonde shinobi replied, hands behind his head as the blue eyes were unusually filled with suspicious confusion.
"Old granny let us off too easily..."
"Uchiha Sasuke, you are formally charged as a missing nin and traitor for joining our enemy Orochimaru.
"Also you attacked Konoha ninja and willingly took part in forbidden jutsu and other unlawful acts."
The woman clenched her fist, presumably against his nonchalance. Checking her temper, she fixated on the other figure.
"Uzumaki Naruto you abandoned your sensei too look for a known missing nin."
"Hey! Was I supposed to bring the old geezer with me?"
"Also, you allied yourself with the traitor Uchiha Sasuke."
"Well, duh! I wasn't going to leave him with the snake bastard."
The Hokage slammed her fist down on the table, causing it to burst into near-dust state. Her eyes were blazing.
"Don't you two feel any remorse for what you did!"
The Kyuubi vessel blinked. "You knew I was going to look for—"
"I damn well knew! But why didn't you contact Konoha first, or even better: PLAN IT! What would you have done if you weren't able to seal Orochimaru's soul? What if Uchiha hadn't killed his brother beforehand and didn't want to come back? You never think!"
Both patients were silent, surprised by the outburst that left her a moment to regain her composure.
"We killed them, didn't we?" To her surprise, it was the raven-haired boy that spoke. "I killed Itachi. He killed Orochimaru. It did work."
Tsunade opened her mouth to say something, but then bit down on her tongue, swallowing the argument. Naruto noticed her uncharacteristic hesitation.
"Hey, old lady, what's wrong?" He asked, squinting his bright eyes at her.
The Fifth chuckled darkly under her breath. "You have no idea, do you?"
Black eyes narrowed at her, demanding an answer. However, before further interrogation, the sanin stood up and walked toward the door, calling one last thing behind.
"Your sentencing will be decided when both of you are well enough to present trial. For now, just refrain from causing too much trouble."
The door slammed, cracking in her wake.
"She held something back." The now only Uchiha noted, thoughts composing themselves under unfathomable eyes.
"Yeah but why?" The fox asked, letting the question hang.
It fell on them both at the same time, dark meeting light.
"Oi! I can't believe we have to do all these lame missions as part of out punishment!" Naruto moaned.
Haruno gave a secret smile and chided her friend. "No groaning, Naruto. You're just lucky Tsunade-sensei didn't send you both back to the academy for all the trouble you two caused."
It was raining, even as the squad set up their single tent. The sky was a dull slate, tiny spatters soaking their hair and clothes to their skin like plaster. The trees swayed in some lethargic dance as the wind bayed its sorrows. The all-too bright boy widened his eyes in dramatic shock.
"You're on her side Sakura-chan! But I thought you wanted me to bring Sasuke back!"
Even while the said person fixed a pike to the sloppy earth, his eyes discreetly turned to watch his third teammate for the answer. It was something he had been curious about, ever since waking in her presence almost a month ago.
"Naruto, Sasuke," The rosette medic smiled at both of them as she finished making the salve.
"Sakura-chan!" Her sunny teammate greeted predictably, straining against his wounds to sit up.
She was by his side in an instant, pushing him back down. "Hey, take it easy Naruto. I'm your healer. It won't do me any good if you hurt yourself whenever I come in."
The blue-eyed boy nodded, but seemed befuddled at something. "Om... Sakura-chan I brought the bastard back! See I told you I would!"
He gave a foxy grin. "Promise of a lifetime!"
The kunoichi smiled again, glancing over at the now-awake traitor. "Yes, I did see. You did great Naruto... and welcome back Sasuke. I'll be with you as soon as I finish changing his bandages."
Both shinobi stared at her in wonder. While the darker one was more subtle, Uzumaki openly gaped. Neither could comprehend her lack of...
"SASUKE-KUN YOUR BACK!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!! NARUTO, WHY DID YOU LET SASUKE-KUN GET HURT?"... affection.
However, it was only the female's mindless chatter about what had happened the last four years that filled the room as she changed her friend's bandages. She ignored the demon host's childish blush when she stripped his old bandages and used her delicate fingers to rub the healing paste on them. And then he was wrapped up and she moved to her former crush. Two pairs of eyes studied her intently. Skilled hands went to work untying the white cloth, revealing the pale, lean muscle of the Uchiha.
"OMG!!! I'LL BE REALLY CAREFUL SASUKE-KUN! YOU ARE SO GREAT—LOOK AT ALL YOUR MUSCLES!" Metaphoric pink hearts bounced about.
Nope, that didn't happen either. Instead she frowned at the long scar where the seal had been preformed, stretching across his abdomen and was quiet for a while as she tingled his skin with the healing balm, rubbing his body without the slightest twitch. After a gaping moment of silence..
"Tsunade-sensei must be really mad at you." The doe-eyed girl spoke again, answering the questioning tone.
The deep, night eyes of the heartthrob scanned her porcelain face for meaning.
"She could have healed that scar, but I guess..."
"For everything that bastard has done, he's lucky all he has is a scar." The golden child glared, for once letting his own hurt slip.
"Hn, like you would understand." The avenger stated, however there seemed to be an inkling of regret in his features.
"Why you!" Jiriaya's student struggled again in antagonize.
"Both of you stop it." The healer stated with a firm voice.
It was more surprise then anything, that shut them both up.
"You can't fight in a hospital. As a medical professional I cannot let you." Professional? Where had the affection gone? Had four years really changed her that much. And when she smiled again it was that soft, but embracing smile... no longer the wide, innocent charm.
"I have to go tend to other patients, but I promise to be in here tomorrow." She left and never knew of the unsettlingly that filled the room in her absence.
That was it: No begging for dates, no beating, no annoying clingines... Had she died and someone thought of some sick joke to replace her?
And now that question that had been on both male's minds was finally released.
The pretty healer blinked in surprise at the sudden interrogation. "Of course I am."
An upturn spread slowly on her lips as veridian eyes wandered to her teammates. "I missed you both."
"Yeah but..." The foxy shinobi was trying to fill words out without angering her. "You're not um... not..."
"Hanging off Sasuke? Beating you for something?" The young woman added helpfully, seemingly amused.
"Is that what has been bothering both of you all this time? I was wondering..." The teenage kunoichi winked in the rain, not minding the damp cherry-colored locks.
"It's been four years. I grew up." The answer was so simple, but before they could continue; thunder called in the distance.
"Come on, we had better get this tent up before the storm really gets out of hand." Smart, smart girl.
They all set to work. However, as her slender form vanished into the trees to grab some rocks for extra weight on their tent, the rivals met each other.
"She's lying." Sasuke stated bluntly.
Naruto nodded, but his cerulean eyes were filled with wonder. "Hey, remember what Tsunade-baachan said that time... about what we did..."
The survivor only stared intently for his friend to continue.
"What do you think... do you think she would have done something when I didn't come back?"
The human icicle sat silently in the ran for a breath. "Like what?"
The prankster looked steadily back at the former missing nin. "I dunno, something dangerous... tried to get us back or something."
The sharingan user only scoffed. "Why would she do that? She's smarter than you, stupid."
For once, the other male let the comment slide, his concern overriding irritation.
"You really hurt her, you know that?"
Uchiha turned back to his friend, solemn. "You're the one I drove a fist through."
Maybe even he had his remorse, though he'd rather have his eyes poked out with spoons that admit it.
The future Hokage shrugged. "I heal, remember."
Knowing he was referring to the demon, Sasuke smirked.
"But Sakura-chan..." Naruto struggled to put it in words.
But the shinobi understood. Even after all this time, they had that invisible bond. Strained and crimson as it now may be, it was still there.
"She heals others."
Her knees gave way, clashing whitely with the dark soil of the earth. She panted, gripping her left side tightly, right along side the ribcage. Despite the damp, chilling temperature of the outside she felt hot, too hot. Her head gave another painful thump and she doubled over, trying to crunch away the pain that immobilized her. Logical thoughts struggled to break free as the ends of her pinks hair dipped into dirt.
It will be alright... I just have to get back to camp and take the bottle Tsunade gave me.
Another lurch and her throat constricted, coughing out flecks of scarlet. Bright eyes were squeezed tight against the onslaught of agony.
Damn it, I'm a kunoichi! I can do this! I just have to stand... stand first... good.
Shakily, the sixteen year old rose to her feet once more, not noticing the dirt that smeared onto her cream-colored legs. The rain was working on it, anyways.
Now just walk... one foot, good. The other... shit!
Another jab from the side, and the medic toppled over, biting her lip to contain a scream. Her legs interlaced with one another, feebly struggling. Rain pelted relentlessly onto her sensitive, burning skin. However, in the corner of her mind, two auras registered.
Haha, great enemy ninja now. Did I drown puppies in some before life?
The next lurch, however, took those thoughts away as she curled deeper into herself, coughing up more blood in the rain. Her eyes couldn't open to see the two figures approaching, but she could hear their quick footsteps.
"Sakura-chan!" A familiar voice called through the reddish haze.
Against her own desire, the Haruno daughter opened her bright eyes, sheened with the pain.
Her mind barely registered the two faces hovering over her. On instinct, she winced to sit up. Two hands touched her arms, and then pulled away.
"She's burning..." Her thoughts were clearing in leeway, and she was sure this was the Kyuubi's voice.
Without a reply, she felt a pair of arms encircle her back, helping her sit up. Arms that were used to fire.
"Sakura, what happened?" Oh, how much of an avenger he still was.
The Hokage's apprentice mentally laughed.
You can't get revenge for me Sasuke...
"Bastard! Don't worry about that! We have to get her inside!"
Their faces were blurring again, and the female member of Team 7 gripped a familiar blue shirt, clinging to it for conscience. At her own movement, she felt her former love's grip tighten around her back.
"Sakura?" His voice was powerful, elevated... maybe even a little worried. He was trying to hook her away from this torture in the same way he captured her when they were kids.
"Sasuke..." The young woman mumbled, and then it came, slamming harder then it had before.
She screamed. Once. In all suffering and agony, she ripped her throat dry. It was stifled however, by the blood that rose and was choked out, leaving her unconscious.
When Sakura awoke, the first thing she heard was a wind chime. The first thing she saw was black. The medical kunoichi attempted to sit up, but the two figures moved quickly, and a pair of strong hands held her back as the second voice called out.
The girl stopped fighting against the pale boy's hold, allowing herself to slump back into the pillows and try to recollect what had happened. She couldn't remember how the forest became a hospital bed.
"What happened?" The blossom-haired individual asked softly.
The avenger had not moved from her side, unreadable eyes intense.
"We abandoned the mission and brought you back." The demon-vessel answered, stepping up to her bedside as well.
She wasn't too worried about that. It had been a pretty pointless endeavor anyways, something about collecting plants or the like.
"Sakura," Sasuke's voice was toneless and curt, never something good. From her laying-down view, she watched his knuckles whiten against the bedpost.
"Tsunade told us what you did."
Ah, Haruno thought, smiling bitterly before she looked up at both boys... her boys.
"And she also told you it's incurable right?"
"Sakura-chan you shouldn't have done that!" Naruto looked so miserable. His normally jovial face was ashen, azure eyes darkened.
The cherry blossom softened her gaze, giving a small laugh. "Don't go beating yourselves up for this. It is my fault."
"But if I had come back—" Uzumaki began.
"Why did you go to Orochimaru?" The remaining Uchiha asked softly, his dark eyes confused.
"For you, why else?" She answered honestly.
The bitter shinobi punched the wall next to her, dark locks hiding his eyes. "I didn't need you to save me."
"No, you didn't." Sakura agreed softly. "You had Naruto."
Her response made him wish to swallow the words back up.
"Shut up bastard! Why don't you go rot in hell instead of making her feel worse!" The blonde boy seethed.
The traitor pivoted, looking ready to fight back. "I would have if you didn't come with your little hero antics."
This time, then distinguishable woman managed to sit up, wincing at the pain it caused.
"Stop it, both of you."
They listened, though the hostility in the air was still strong. The green-eyed teen let out a sigh.
"What are you two going to do when I'm not there to stop your fighting?"
"Don't say that Sakura-chan." The Kyuubi said seriously. "We'll find a way and—"
"Naruto," The intelligent woman cut him off. "You've done enough."
Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto were assigned a new mission as a punishment. It was B rank, rated for emotional stress it would case.
Stay with Haruno Sakura until time is up.
Neither of them complained or neglected the duty.
Sakura was in the process of pouring tea when Orochimaru's venom jabbed at her again. She scrunched in pain, not noticing the scolding water that was pouring onto her arm.
Suddenly, a pale hand was around her waist, supporting her weight and removing the teapot from her hand. He didn't move for a moment, waiting for the fit to pass.
Even in death, you spread your poison, fucking snake.
However he kept his temper as the fragile form straightened once again in his grip.
"Thanks Sasuke." The pink-haired being coughed once, wiping the blood away before attempting to resume her tea-making.
"Stupid." The male sat the pot down and scooped up his former teammate.
Sakura beeped in surprise, instinctively wrapping her arms around his neck as the human ice cube placed her gently down onto the bed.
"I'll make the tea." The avenger stated coolly, heating more water and eying the burns from the corner of his eye.
"But first, you have to treat those burns."
The medic grimaced at the scolding feel, giving a dry chuckle. "Sorry, I just slipped."
Her runaway teammate opened a drawer with a familiar healing balm.
"Hn, stop apologizing all the time. It's annoying."
The pretty teen just smiled at the underlying understanding. The raven-haired prodigy sat on her bed, coarse fingers digging in for the white cream and carefully rubbing it on the red skin. He swallowed, mastering his face against the feel of her skin.
"Sasuke," She started.
He didn't reply, but she knew he was listening.
"Is Naruto at Hinata's?"
"Yes." He didn't look up from his work, fearing the loss of control if he gazed into those eyes.
He felt her smile rather than saw it. "Good, he'll be happy with her."
Lines ran along his smooth brow as the fire-user finally looked up at her face. "What is it you want?"
"Me?" Sakura repeated, then giggling a little, taunting him with a poke in the chest. "I want you and Naruto to stop fighting."
The brooding shinobi scowled, gripping her finger with a look of determination. "Do you always think about other people? Moran, I asked what you wanted."
The fair healer just smiled gently. "That is what I want. That is what I have always wanted... Naruto's dream is to become Hokage; Yours was to kill your brother. Mine has always been just... to help you both, to be there. That is my dream."
"Why?" His voice cracked with some emotion.
The identifiable kunoichi looked back, seeming to decide what to say. "Because I love you both... so much. Naruto is my brother, he is happiness and fun and strength against all the evils of the world. And you... your the lost boy I found who inspired me to heal. You were the broken heart I always wanted to mend. I grew up Sasuke, but I never stopped..."
She didn't say it and she didn't need to. He was gripping her finger so tight she had to bite her tongue against the hurt, but she wouldn't cry out.
"Sakura... I'm sorry." He finally managed to say, refusing to look at her as the unfamiliar words tumbled out of his mouth.
Her fingers ran gently through his ebony spikes, causing him to tense as slender fingers titled his expressionless face toward her own.
The boy snapped, his hands found their way around her.(Not snaking, of course) His breath tickled her senses as he kissed. On her lips, down her jaw, on her neck.
And as the tea whistled in the background, neither moved to get it.
It was at her funeral when it happened. Black eyes took in the form of his best friend.
"You're crying... dobe."
Indeed, the slick blue eyes turned to him, understanding with a crack of a smile.
"You are too... teme."
10 pages... I think that is the number where moral conscious demands you to review.