Inner Tourniquet

Disclaimer: Don't own- never will.

Chapter One

Kakashi's POV:

'My assumption was correct after all.' I thought, narrowing my eye on Uchiha Itachi. He stood there calmly in his Akatsuki robes, only a few feet away from me. Though I did not look directly at him, I instinctively knew crimson sharingan eyes were gazing back at me.

There were rumors of black robed men who wore red clouds roaming around outer Grass Country. I only heard of this just after I completed a mission and needed to find out if it was true.

'To think I'd find him here. But it's quite rare to catch one of them alone… where is Kisame?' My black and red eyes covered the ground below where many dead corpses littered the grassy plains.

'Hm, probably collecting the ransom for the many missing ninja killed here today.' I thought, wondering just what the organization was planning to do with all the money they were collecting lately.

'Regardless, I cannot let him get away this time.' I pulled up my hitae-ate to reveal my own sharingan.

"I won't let you survive this time, Kakashi." Itachi spoke evenly.

"I was just about to say the same thing, Itachi." I raised my head to meet his red gaze with a mangekyou sharingan of my own.

'I won't lose again.' I glared at the elder Uchiha who wore a slightly impressed glint in his eyes.

He smirked faintly. "This will be interesting… I never thought you could master this level of sharingan with only one eye."

Three blood crimson mangekyou locked gazes.

Without another word, the fight began.


Sakura's POV:

I hovered over the unconscious form of Kakashi on the hospital bed, routinely checking his pulse and temperature. Frowning, it could feel his heartbeat growing steadily weaker with each passing day. I felt useless; all I could do was heal his physical injuries.

'He's been in this coma for two weeks…' Nerves ate away at my stomach. 'Not even Tsunade-shishou can wake him.' The atmosphere in the hospital was growing desperate. There was only a matter of time before Kakashi…

'No.' I did not let myself think of that possibility.

Evidence supported that Kakashi met with Uchiha Itachi during his mission and they fought. Tsunade-shishou said this was the only possible conclusion since there were reports of the Akatsuki member seen by the nearby village.

The effect of two mangekyou sharingan facing against each other at once had a terrible aftermath. Kakashi had entered a deep sleep in which he was slowly dying - his heart and body growing weaker and weaker. They must have each meant to use the mangekyou mind jutsu at the exact same moment for this to occur.

Naruto and I were sent for back up and found Kakashi this way. Now, we still couldn't wake him up. It this continues at this rate, he'll die within the next week. 'But he does still have one chance…' I thought hopefully.

"Are you certain of this, Sakura?" Tsunade-shishou asked beside me with a hard edge to her stern voice.

I glanced back down at the scroll on the nightstand and reviewed the seals for the hundredth time, making sure I had it all memorized. I looked back up at my ex-sensei and gave a reassuring smile.

There is a forbidden jutsu in which a person can enter another's mind. It is similar to Ino's, yet on a deeper level. I would enter Kakashi's inner thoughts and act as a guide to bring him back to reality. Yet, the reason why it is forbidden is that the person could lose their own mind in the process. Few have ever succeeded.

'No, I will!' I thought, determination spurring within me. 'I promised myself a long time ago that I would be strong enough to help my important people. I can do this!' Even Inner Sakura agreed with me.

"You know this is the only way. Besides, I am your apprentice after all! Don't underestimate me." I said confidently, more so than I felt.

"That may be so, but Kakashi's own mind might repel you. The only reason I'm letting you take this risk is because you are the only medic-nin close to him so you might actually have a chance. Also that you've mastered genjutsu and have surpassed me."

"I'll be fine."

Tsunade frowned but didn't comment as she seriously grabbed my forearm and started rapidly drawing various Kanji down my bare arm. I stiffened feeling the cool blood trickle slight down as she went on to my other arm, completing the jutsu. I compared the markings to the ones used in the scroll and nodded in affirmation.

"Sakura-chan… I don't like this but just make sure you come back okay?!" Naruto said worriedly, peering down at our sliver haired ex-sensei. "I don't want you to end up like Kakashi-sensei!"

"I won't." I responded forcibly.

I walked over to Kakashi's bedside, staring down at his sleeping masked face. In respect, we worked around the mask so no one saw what he truly looked like - it felt like cheating anyway. 'To think I'll actually be going into the mysterious Copy Ninja's mind.' That thought alone was distilling enough.

"Well… I see you soon, guys!" I gave one last grin, trying to fight back the voices of 'what ifs'.

Completing the seals, I felt a sudden darkness overrun my senses as the feeling of floating on clouds passed through me. Hurriedly, I reached over and squeezed Kakashi's limp hand, staring determinedly at him. Blackness fell like a blanket over my vision and then… there was nothing.


'Where… am I?'

I tensed, feeling a deep sense of dread mixed with an underlying fear wash over me. I looked around the dark area, 'this... is Kakashi's mind?!' It seemed like a nightmare.

I looked down at myself, noting I was still wearing the red skirt with my shorts underneath and a black tank from before. 'So, is this how I pictured a mental image of myself?' Well, I was just relieved it worked.

There was barely any light at all in this place. Shadows stretched like growing flames in every possible direction, as if trying to reach and consume you in darkness. Even the floor didn't feel solid, only a grayish mist that drifted uneasily above my ankles. If felt… so cold. And heavy, like the very air was trying to force you to your knees.

I gasped, staggering as I tried to take a step forward. I barely managed it. "Kakashi…" Shaking, I realized my own voice sounded like a distant echo.

'I can't breathe. I can't breathe…!' Panic swelled inside me as I wondered if I even had to breathe. I wasn't in my body; this was just a mental image of me in Kakashi's mind. I cradled my arms to my chest, squeezing my eyes shut to the frightening scene that surrounded me.

'Pull yourself together!' Inner Sakura yelled at me, but I was forced to agree. I couldn't help Kakashi like this! I opened my eyes, steeling my will and took another step forward. I needed to find Kakashi - I couldn't waste time.

'If I don't find him them we're both in trouble. I won't release this jutsu until I know Kakashi's alright.' I trudged on, ignoring the creeping chill that set deep inside me. I'm different now, I can handle this. I'm not the weakling who looks on worriedly from the background anymore.

'I'm not a jounin for nothing!' Right! There weren't many sixteen year old jounin medic nins. I am the only one capable of pulling this off.

I carefully viewed my environment, wary of Tsunade-shishou's warning that Kakashi's mind may attack me at any moment. It seemed… endless, and the walls blurred into black so you couldn't possibly know how far this place really was.

I shrugged my shoulders, trying to get used to the heaviness that pressured me. Every step I took seemed harder than the last, but I was slowly getting used to it. 'Is every mind like this… or just Kakashi's?'

I had a feeling it was just Kakashi.

'But where was he? What if I can't find him? How long will the jutsu hold until it forces me out of his mind? What if I actually do never find my way out and get stuck here forever?' The picture of me wandering this hellish darkness for eternity flashed in my mind.

A shudder ran right through me as I considered this. I needed to find Kakashi - fast.

'But where is he?!' God, the man was never where you wanted him, even in his own damn mind! Must Kakashi always be so difficult?

Shaking my head, I walked on. I made sure I didn't let my gaze stray to the shadows, I felt like something was staring at me whenever I looked there. Very much like seeing right through me - leaving me with a threatened, unsettled feeling.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a gust of ice air blew right into me, with so much force that it knocked me clean off my feet. The world spun for several moments as I wondered what the hell just happened to me.

Nervous and scared, I sat up slowly. I stiffened, not liking the sinking sensation I felt and quickly stood up. I glared at the floor, wondering if it was a form of invisible quicksand. Still shaking, I walked onwards, hoping that it wouldn't happen again.

'I can't even defend myself here - I'm utterly vulnerable.' All I can do is release the jutsu keeping me here. I can't use any chakra because I'm not in my body… This line of thought brought to surface another possibility.

'Could I be killed here?' Being a medic ninja, I have seen cases when a patient merely thinks they are sick and do attain symptoms. The mind is a dangerous thing. If I believe I died, the message would be sent to my brain and I really could…

'Then that won't happen.' I thought sternly. I'll find Kakashi and get us both out of here! '…The only problem is finding him…'

Gulping, I continued on, puzzled as to where exactly I was going. My plan so far has been to keep moving until I met Kakashi. But really, when lost isn't it best to wait until help arrives?

Oh right - I'm the help.

When I lifted my foot to move I suddenly realized I couldn't. It felt like icy ghost fingers were holding my ankle in a vice grip. 'What..!' I yanked hard but that had an opposite effect as I once again fell over, this time front-wards.

Screaming and kicking furiously, I started as I felt myself start to actually sink into the mist. 'No!' it felt like I was being dipped into cold, thick liquid. Panicking, I tried to crawl away but my wrist and other leg were grasped as well by the invisible force.

I sank further and further until both of my legs were underneath. 'My god, I'll sink forever and never be able to get out.' Shaking, I didn't even realize I was crying till I noticed my vision blur.

Struggling with all the strength I could muster, it proved useless as I was fully emerged into the grey mist. The compressing feeling increased as I vaguely wondered if I should open my eyes - part of me was too frightened to. It felt like I had two hundred pounds attached to my shoulders.

Stiffening, I felt a sudden thud as I hit a hard floor. 'I stopped sinking!' I thought, sighing in a heap of relief. In reaction, I opened my eyes and quickly surveyed the new area. 'My God, I think I liked the other place better.' I decided instantly.

Complete blackness was all there was expect for slivery-grey lining on the floor. I could creepily hear dark whispers yet couldn't understand them, though I don't think I want to. The tone sent shivers cascading through me… it was deafening yet silent at the same time.

'I just want to go home.' But not until I find Kakashi first.

I stood up, noting that there was something in the distance. I could feel every molecule in me tense as I stared at the shadowy figure, wondering if it was a threat. No doubt it was - I haven't exactly had the brightest welcome since I arrived here.

The figure moved as I could see its profile. I squinted my eyes - was that silver hair?

"Kakashi?!"

I ran over, regardless of the trouble I had as joy and sweet relief flooded me. 'I found him, I found him…!' now I could set everything right again. He can finally wake up.

I reached out and barely brushed his arm when my upper arms were grasped harshly and I was bodily thrown up against a wall that I couldn't even see. I gasped in shock, staring up into mismatched, crazed eyes.

"Kakashi! It's me, Sakura!" I said pleadingly, frightened that there was no recognition in his eyes.

"Lies. All of them are." His gaze narrowed dangerously. "Sakura could never be here." He whispered aloud in a rushed, heated tone.

I've never seen Kakashi this angry in my life. He was scaring me. 'Where does he think he is?' I thought, shaking my head at his statement.

"It's true! Kakashi-sensei, I'm here to help you get out of here." I responded, desperately trying to sound calm though I knew I was failing miserably.

"You're not real." It was said with such morbid conviction.

It was then I noticed that his eyes were deadly hollow - as if he wasn't even alive. I've seen many corpses have the same look in their eyes, the same nothingness. Frantically, I bit my lip and hurriedly tore out of his grip and jumped up to wrap my arms securely around his neck.

I didn't know what else to do.

Something pulsed between us as I held on for dear life. The pressure on me rose to new levels as I felt I would sink into the floor and never stand again. A rush of emotions coursed through me like burning acid, making every one of my nerves on edge. Maybe it was because our very minds were touching- the solidification of our most inner thoughts actually connecting for a brief moment.

"It's me. I promise." I wondered if that was good enough.

I was ripped off and pushed back against the wall again, with less force this time. I blinked, noticing only now that Kakashi still had his mask on, 'he hides his face even in his mind?' that wasn't fair.

"Sakura, what are you doing here?" he asked seriously, in the same commanding tone he used in the old Gennin days.

"I… I came to"-

"Who killed you, Sakura?" Kakashi demanded, impatient.

'Killed me?' I thought curiously. 'What is he talking about?' This wasn't making any sense… Surely he didn't think he was… dead, right? The very thought sent a chill down my spine.

"No one. Where do you think we are, anyway?" I asked, at a loss.

"Hell."

The answer was instant and lifeless, it made my insides clench painfully. 'He… he thought that this was…' My eyes widened at the statement as I could feeling water gathering at the corners of my vision.

"No, Kakashi- sensei. You're alive - we both are. You are in a coma, I used a mind transfer jutsu to enter your mind and guide you out. When you were fighting Itachi with the sharingan you must have locked yourself in here."

His eyes hardened as I could see comprehension dawn in his dulled eyes. "Itachi… was he found as well?"

I looked down. "No, Naruto and I only found you there."

A silent pause came between us as he moved back to give me space. I smiled up at him, thinking where exactly to go from here. 'Everything's fine as long as I have Kakashi with me.' Now once we find the exit we can leave as planned.

"This is my mind?" His gaze strayed dispassionately around the darkened surroundings.

I nodded meekly 'It must be strange to realize that this scary place is actually your mind and where you inner-most thoughts dwell'. I certainly would freak out but Kakashi seemed to be completely unfazed by this knowledge.

I started explaining the full effects of what Tsunade told me of his fight with Itachi and about the mind-transfer jutsu. After finishing he stared at me with slight incredulity as I found sudden interest in the looming shadow above us.

"Release the jutsu this instant, Sakura." He replied emotionlessly.

"What?! No way! I need to make sure you find the exit, first! If I don't you'll die, Kakashi. You at most have only a week left!" I retorted angrily.

"Do what I say, Sakura. It was foolish of Hokage-sama to even let you try this technique. It's forbidden, you might never be able to leave here. How could you take this risk and not even consider the consequences?" Kakashi said, glaring fiercely.

'I did consider the consequences!' I thought, inwardly steaming at his words. Did he expect me to just leave him here to die after coming this far?!

"I'm not leaving without you! Kakashi, you"-

"I don't care, Sakura," he shoved his hands into his pockets, slouching where he stood. "It would be pointless if you died here."

I glared back with equal force. "Fine! You stay, I stay!" I knew my stubbornness as well as my temper was growing with momentum. "I'm not leaving until I know you'll wake up when I do!"

I crossed my arms and looked defiantly away. I still, even after these years, felt a twinge of gut instinct to obey what Kakashi said. 'Humph! He isn't my sensei anymore!'

"Sakura…" he grabbed my upper arm and frowned lightly, "the longer you stay here the more the risk increases. I've been here for a long time and I didn't see any sort of exit."

I looked back up at him, "All the more reason to get a move on then, right?" I asked imploringly.

He sighed, running a hand through his silver hair. "Fine, but if we can't find the way out in two days you leave immediately."

"But"-

"You don't want your mind lost forever do you? If I die while you're here, there's no way you'll find your way back into your body."

His dry response sent a shudder of terror down my spine but I knew better than to argue now. Kakashi's voice held a cutting warning to not cross him. I laughed nervously, smiling although it was a fake one.

"I guess we should hurry then." I supplied, looking around the dreary surroundings and hoping we wouldn't have to stay too long.

'Jeez, this place already scares me to death. Kakashi spent two weeks in this place - it must have been horrible!' He even thought that this was Hell.

'This place is not how I would like to envision the afterlife.'

"Sakura… just remember to ignore whatever you see or hear here." Kakashi said as his eyes locked with mine.

"W- Why?"

"…Nothing is real." There was a certain haunted look in those dark eyes of his but his face was a mask of apathy.

"Your not real."

There was a chilling foreboding in his words I couldn't help but notice.


A/N:

What do you think will be in the mind of the aloof Kakashi? The next chapters will reveal all - and it'll be much longer - this was just a sort of preview.

I'll see if I should continue by the reviews! So please tell me your opinion - I will really appreciate it.

-Twitch