The lights were awful and blinding as he was once again transferred from one bed to another. A light voice talked to him at his side, telling him that this was his last stop. That he was in the operating room. A few more people hovered above him, circling his table and prepping him for the surgery. An intravenous fluid started running as one of the nurses injected the anaesthetic solution into the bottle. A few minutes passed and he started to feel his eyelids getting heavier, the pain in his chest and abdomen started to subside.
"Asuma-san," he heard a female voice say, somewhere around him on the operating table. His eyes may be blurry but he could still make out the person hovering over him.
His eyes squinted to get a better vision but this of course did not help him any. He could see a few pink strands escaping her cap and bright green eyes staring down at him. "Who—Sakura-chan?" he would've corrected himself by calling her sensei instead, if he wasn't so sedated.
He could tell she's smiling beneath the mask by the way her eyes crinkled, "Hai. Asuma-san, how are you feeling?"
The odds of having Sakura operate on him were quite unexpected and nostalgic at the same time. He was there when this little girl fought Ino in the Chuunin exams. Never in his life had he imagined seeing a student like her evolve into someone so successful. He heard a lot of things about her asides from being Tsunade's apprentice. Haruno Sakura had come a long way to achieve her rank being the top medic intern of her batch. It seems the rumours about Tsunade's violent teaching skills were true after all or Sakura would have never reached her rank at the age of 18.
Ino's former teacher chuckled deeply, "Barely hanging…"
"I'll be assisting in this operation, Asuma-san. We'll have to fix your lungs and liver."
"That bad, huh?"
Sakura gave a lopsided smile, "That's an understatement." She quipped before turning all business-like again, "Listen, in a matter of a few minutes you'll—"
"Hai, hai," Asuma interrupted, "Unfortunately, this is not my first time here, Sakura."
She looked at him silently and then nodded, "So they say," with that, she disappeared from his sight and that's when the anaesthesia kicked in. The familiar beeping sound of the pulse oximeter lulled him to sleep until he finally lost his eye reflexes.
The door gave a smooth sliding sound as the attending surgeon came in. Nurses in scrubs gowned and gloved him quickly. Sakura waited patiently on the other side of the table.
"I think 'good morning' is not an appropriate greeting in this situation." Dr. Misato's deep brown eyes smiled at Sakura, who in returned gave a nod. "Alright, talk to me." He tipped his head to the circulating nurse next to him.
"Vital signs are stable, IV fluid infusing well." She endorsed while attentively monitoring the ECG machine and oxygen saturation. Clean cloths were then draped over Asuma's abdomen as the nurses prepared the instruments needed.
The anaesthesiologist stood dutifully at the head of the table, "First dose administered, patient is sedated."
Misato observed the deep wound on Asuma's abdomen and saw the punctured lung and liver. "You people just don't know when to quit, do you?" He muttered disappointedly. This was already his third surgery since yesterday. Shinobi kept coming in from long term missions with either life-threatening wounds or amputated extremities. Misato looked over in Sakura's direction and asked, "Haruno-san, are you ready?"
Sakura nodded, "Ready when you are."
"Okay, let's save another life." And the gamble was on.
Sakura thoroughly washed her hands and arms, not looking at the person who just got out of the operating room. Drying her hands, she tiredly dropped down on the nearest bench and rubbed her face with both of her palms. Four hours… if took them that long to fix and keep the organs from bleeding.
"You okay, Haruno?" she looked up and saw Dr. Misato staring down at her with worry. Shuichi Misato was one of the most intelligent and successful surgeons in the program. And he happened to be Sakura's resident.
Sakura pulled a tired smile, "All this work with no sleep is taking a toll on me."
"Hang in there, partner," the surgeon chuckled while brushing his fingernails. "I bet there's another one coming in a few minutes and I need you to stay sane for me." Misato openly admitted that he'd go crazy soon if another batch comes in that needs surgery.
"And they're all coming from one station, aren't they?" she mused while staring at nothing in particular. She heard from Shizune about the top-secret mission Tsunade gave ANBU a few days ago concerning Sound Nins. All their OR patients came from that squad and they're coming into the hospital one at a time. There's one case when they failed to save that patient. It was too late when he arrived in the emergency room. He lost a lot of blood, thus causing hypovolemic shock.
Misato dried his hands and glanced at his top intern. Not a day went by did he regret having Sakura in this program. Tsunade did not disappoint him when she said she produced the best medic ever to grace Konoha.
Sakura acquiescently nodded, "You're right."
When they exited the OR, the familiar bell rang and another injured patient was admitted. Paramedics rushed through the hallway and entered the operating room at the other end of the floor. Sakura caught one of the medics and asked, "Who's that?" she could've sworn she saw a familiar speck of silver hair when the stretcher passed her way.
"Hatake, Kakashi." The medic answered, a little out of breath, "Found him a few miles away from the main gate."
Sakura showed the perfect portrait of disbelief with her eyes wide and her lips parted in a silent gasp. "Kakashi-sensei??" Although it's been awhile since the last time they actually exchanged words, Sakura still feared for the life-threatening situation her former sensei was going through.
Without having any second thoughts, Sakura rushed towards the room Kakashi was brought into.
"Sakura, what do you think you're doing??" Misato questioned in surprise.
She briefly glanced at him over her shoulder and said, "I'm scrubbing in! Ja!"
Misato just blinked, scratched the back of his head and sighed, "I shouldn't have asked."
The door slid open and Sakura went in, ready to get gowned and gloved.
"Haruno-san!" a fellow intern named Ruriko looked at her in mild surprise, "What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here." She babbled out, flustered.
"Can't. That's my—" she turned and checked if it was really Kakashi lying on the operating table. Yep, it's him. She couldn't help the shudder that ran down her spine as she stared openly at his bloody and battered body. It was like staring at a family member or something, prepping for OR. "—That's my friend over there. I have to be here." All set, Sakura stepped into the field with the timid Ruriko hot on her heels.
"But aren't you supposed to be helping Misato-sensei?"
"We're done with our surgery. It was successful, by the way." She was only a few steps away from Kakashi's still form when suddenly a body blocked her way. She looked up and saw Yoshino-sensei glaring down at her.
"What's Misato's intern doing here?" she spitefully questioned no in particular.
Gathering all her courage to stand up for herself, Sakura straightened and answered, "I want to scrub in. That's my friend over there."
"Ah, such a promising way to show your professionalism." Yoshino dryly quipped, "I don't care if you're BFF with my patient. This case is not yours, so get out of my OR." With that, she returned to her post and waited until Kakashi's body was stable.
Sakura fell silent for a while, a little enraged at how easily Yoshino threw her off. I can't leave... I can't just leave him here… There was something inside her that willed her to stay. Perhaps the fact that he's her former teacher fuelled that so-called 'will'.
"If I can't scrub in… can I at least watch?" Sakura hoped this wouldn't earn her a kick in the ass. Dr. Yoshino could be very violent when she wanted to be. Kind of reminds me of someone with blonde hair…
"Fine! Just leave my OR!" Yoshino turned her back on her and entered the sterile field.
Rolling her eyes, Sakura marched out with heavy strides. She was pissed alright.
"So you're telling me…" Tsunade sat back in her chair and propped her chin above her entwined hands, "… that I should question Yoshino's treatment towards you?"
"Well… I was hoping that you could—" Sakura tried to reason out.
"You're telling ME to question a top medic for your own benefit…"
"Not—exactly what I was going for but—"
"Sakura!" Tsunade snapped, "Are you giving me orders now??"
What's the point? Sakura sighed tiredly, "I'm sorry, shishou. I didn't mean to upset you."
Tsunade rubbed her temple, feeling another headache coming on, "If you're having problems with Yoshino, you should talk to her yourself. Don't drag me into this."
"But her treatment affects my work and—"
"You're letting this affect you?" a warning glare was sent her way and it made her blood run cold.
"… NO!—I mean, I—"
"Did it occur to you that you might have done something wrong to piss her off?"
"… I'm not sure."
"Perhaps because she's a resident and you're an intern that you're supposed to abide by her rules, which you probably failed to do?"
"I know that…"
"Then what's with Kakashi's surgery this morning??"
"I was concerned! I wanted to be there…"
"You have other patients to attend to and Kakashi is not one of them! He was Yoshino's and you had the gall to interfere!"
"I just wanted to scrub in!"
"That's no excuse, Sakura!" Tsunade yelled to put a stop to this pointless argument. "You..." taking in a deep calming breath, she continued, "I don't want you to get kicked out of this program just because you were lacking professionalism."
Sakura knew she had it coming and was smart enough to keep mouth shut.
"You don't treat family members, friends or anyone you're attached to unless it's absolutely necessary. Yoshino is one of the top medics in Konoha and I can assure you, Kakashi is in good hands."
"I'm not saying that she's not good. What I'm trying to say is—" Sakura looked up and saw Tsunade glaring menacingly at her again. Sighing, she went on with a calmer tone, "All I'm saying is... I just wanted to see how the operation went. You always tell me to go and watch in the theatre so I can learn new things. Dr. Yoshino doesn't understand that! This is not the first time she's brushed me off…"
"I don't care! Stop complaining and apologize to her." Tsunade said with finality and started rummaging through her paperwork.
Sakura looked at her incredulously, "Excuse me?"
"I said apologize to her. What part of that do you not understand?" the fifth said without looking up.
Sakura shook her head and stood up quickly. Unbelievable. I'll be the laughing-stock of the hospital for the next few weeks… before she could even reach the door, Tsunade's voice stopped her.
"By the way," Sakura's shoulders stiffened before looking over to her, "I assigned you to be Kakashi's personal medic after his discharge."
Her jaw fell at that, "What! I'm a nurse now?" when she met Tsunade's laser-like stare, she quickly went silent.
"I'll talk to you both as soon as Kakashi's ok. For now, go shower Yoshino's feet with kisses." When her student made no move, Tsunade looked at her and made a waving motion with her hand, "GO!"
Having no choice in the matter, Sakura exited the room in a flash before a hurling book hits her in the face.
The fourth floor was a mess the moment she stepped out of the elevator. "Haruno-sensei!" Turning, she saw Chisa, one of the staff nurses run towards her, "We need your help!"
"What's going on?" Sakura immediately followed her into the east wing of the hospital.
"It's Hatake-san," Chisa breathlessly replied, "We've been trying to restrain him but he still keeps on removing his IV. He insists on going home!"
Sakura heard about this yesterday from some of the nurses on her floor. Ever since Kakashi recovered from his surgery, he kept on removing his contraptions so he could escape. "Did you try to sedate him?"
"We can't always administer drugs, Haruno-sensei." Chisa gave the intern a reprimanding look. Sakura felt a little annoyed for receiving that kind of look but quickly brushed it off.
Instead, she asked, "Is this the reason why you paged me?"
Chisa shrugged her shoulders, "We figured you would be able to convince him to stop pestering us and do something to improve his health… like obeying doctor's orders." They arrived at Kakashi's room and Sakura was surprised to see her former sensei on the bed, both his legs and arms strapped to the bed.
"Good morning, Hatake-san. Preparing to cut your bindings?" Chisa greeted with fake cheerfulness, completely masking her annoyance as she moved around the bed and checking… well, his un-regulated dextrose. "I can see that you played with this, again," she told him like an adult talking to a child. "How are you feeling today?"
Kakashi was not a happy camper in the morning and just stared at the ceiling. "Other than the fact that I'm tied to my bed… everything's fine." He grumbled in dry sarcasm. His visible eye turned towards Chisa and said, "You really should discharge me, you know."
"Again, just following doctor's orders." Chisa replied with her sunny-smile still intact, "Dr. Yoshino is very adamant on keeping you here."
"She's nuts." Sakura tried not to laugh out loud at that. But a small snort escaped and that gave her presence away to the bound copy-nin. "Ah, Sakura-chan."
Their eyes met. They had a history together but Sakura felt like she was facing a stranger. "Hello, Kakashi-sensei." It had been years since they actually faced each other. Ever since Team 7 split, everyone focused on each other's business. Naruto continued his training with Jiraiya, Sasuke tried to regain Konoha's trust and currently became Jounin while Kakashi concentrated on S-class missions that mostly assigned him to far-off places. As for Sakura, she decided to continue her pre-med and stayed away from any mission to focus on her studies. Naruto was the only person whom she could still confide in. Sasuke was too busy to even spare a minute to talk to her. There are times when she crossed paths with Kakashi only to exchange polite greetings and such. No long chitchats, not even a simple 'How are you?'.
Kakashi stared at her with his brows knotted in deep concentration. "What happened to your hair?"
That made her automatically grope her now longer hair, "Um, it gotten longer I guess. I have no time to visit the salon…" she didn't know why she suddenly felt utterly self-conscious.
"Hn," he went back staring at the wall again, "Looks good on you."
Sakura had to blink twice and will the blush on her cheeks to go away, "… thanks."
Chisa tossed a look at the two and then started to leave, "Ookay… I'll come back by noon for your vitals. I'll leave you two alone." She quickly exited the room and closed the door.
Sakura recovered from Kakashi's unexpected compliment and went to check his chart. "So, Kakashi-sensei… how are you feeling?" When he was about to open his mouth, Sakura cut him off, "And sarcasm is not appreciated, so you'd better behave."
"Then why are you still in the hospital?"
"That's what I'd like to know."
Sakura scanned his chart further, "You're still recovering from your surgery."
"I heal fast."
Closing the chart, she glared at the infuriating man, "This won't be the last time you try to jump out one of these windows, will it?" When Kakashi made no move to acknowledge her and was still staring at the ceiling, she finally asked, "You can easily break those binds. Why are you still stuck in that bed?"
The older jounin's visible eye crinkled, "This makes it a lot more fun."
Her eyes narrowed, "I knew it. You're doing it on purpose."
Kakashi gave an innocent tilt of his head, "I don't understand."
"You like it when nurses come here to bind you."
"Damn, am I that easy to read?" Kakashi chuckled, "You're good, Sakura-chan."
The pink-haired medic smirked, "Whatever, sensei." She shook her head and started scribbling.
"You and Naruto…"
"Huh?" Sakura looked up with an arched eyebrow.
"You never stopped calling me sensei." He shook his head with a sigh.
"Well…" Sakura started slowly, "It's just that we're used to calling you sensei… I never realized—" she stopped and then asked out of curiosity, "Does it bother you?"
"It makes me feel old."
Sakura wanted to quip 'well, you don't look old' but kept her mouth shut. Instead, she bit back a smile and scanned his chart again.
"How have you been?"
That caught her off guard. She looked up and saw him looking back, observing her closely. She felt a lump catch in her throat, "I'm—great. I've been studying pre-med and then I got into a program… I'm an intern here… I'm still looking for a specialization. You know… what kind of surgeon I'd like to be and stuff like that." She waved a dismissive hand with a short laugh. Returning his gaze calmly, she threw back the question, "You?"
Kakashi smiled and raised one arm up, "I'm currently tied to a bed rail."
Sakura laughed, "And the world weeps in your defence." She heard the man return an amused chuckle while absently fiddling with his bindings. Recovering from her high, Sakura cleared her throat and delivered the big news, "Tsunade wants to see you once you're out of the hospital—legally." She emphasized the last word with an adamant glare.
"I'm not done with my report yet."
"It's not about that."
"…" He calmly watched the emotions play on his ex-student's face, "What does she want then?"
She shrugged her shoulders after deciding that she would tell lie to him. She can't really deal with how he would react if she told him she was assigned as his personal medic. "You know what, I have no idea either." The look Kakashi sent her made the fake smile on her face fall.
I guess I made the wrong decision…
AN: TY tootalltygerlily for the beta-ed!