Epilogue

He woke to the smell of disinfectants and disease and cracked opened an eye to squint at the blurry and blindingly white surroundings. Did he…die? He tuned in his hearing and listened to the quiet and steady beeping sound that seemed to belong to some sort of mechanical device. Did heaven (or was this hell?) use machines?

"So you're awake."

He turned his head slowly so as not to induce even more pain than he was feeling to see who was speaking. After a minute of blinking and trying to clear his eyesight, he finally could distinguish the slightly impatient character before him.

It was her.

The one whose face drifted constantly through his dreams, the one whose memory kept him from going insane, the one who he had left five years ago.

Hinata.

She had grown out her midnight blue hair so it cascaded in long straight locks down her back, her eyes were the same light lavender as before, though more severe and less submissive, and her body…let's just say Sasuke nearly had a heart attack after laying eyes on her…chest region.

"Hinata…" He was disgusted that his voice sounded even worse than a frog's croaking.

She ignored him and eyed him coolly, "As part of my job here at the hospital, I'm required to check up on you and tell you your current physical condition," She flipped the page of her clipboard and continued, "You have several tears in your lungs, numeral broken bones, far too many for me to all list, a large hole through you chest that barely skimmed your heart," She skimmed through the minor details and looked back up, "We've also depleted your chakra to less than one percent, so don't try and escape, please." With that she turned on her heel and walked back to the door.

"Hinata, wait…" Sasuke tried again in a hopefully louder voice.

She stopped but didn't turn around, giving him time to spit out what he wanted to say before his voice totally collapsed, "Please, Hinata…come back…"

She spun back around and stormed up to his bed and hissed, "'Come back'? You left me for that snake bastard, who might I say, almost destroyed all of Konoha, remember?" She took a deep breath, willing herself not to get any angrier, "Besides, what makes you think that I haven't moved on to find someone else, huh?"

That to Sasuke stung more than any wound that he had already received. Did she move on? She couldn't have, that wasn't fair, she was the only reason that he stayed alive when Orochimaru put him through those vile experiments. He slowly shook his head and croaked, "You're lying…"

She only gave him a bitter look, "Good day, Sasuke." She walked over to one of the many machines in the room and pressed a small button that sent fluid through a tube and into his arm through a small IV. The sight of her leaving the room was the last thing he saw before he fell into unconsciousness.


He woke again, eager to Hinata's face again and try to convince her back to him, but was deeply disappointed to see a bright emerald eyes staring back at him with a mixture of relief, curiosity and grievance.

"Hello, Sasuke." His former team mate gave a small smile and took out her clipboard, "Glad to see that you haven't died on us yet."

Sasuke took this time too quickly examine his ex-colleague; her vibrant pink hair was still cut short from the chunnin exam that he had last seen her at, though it seemed spikier and wilder than before, her eyes remained the same bright and cheerful green that he remembered, but her body seemed much more…modest compared to Hinata.

Usually he would have been surprised that Sakura wasn't dying to rip his guts out for trying to kill her and Naruto or for betraying the entire village, or even maybe slightly glad to see her again, but right now she was not the person he was hoping to see, "Where's Hinata?" He was glad to hear that his voice was no longer a croak, but a whisper.

Sakura pretended not to hear, "You've been healing quite nicely, the tears in your lungs are almost gone, at least half the bones have healed, and the large gaping whole in your chest is not so large and gaping anymore." She giggled at her at sad attempt at humour.

"Where. Is. She?" He gritted his teeth and drew out each word as loud as he could.

Sakura gave a deep and forlorn sigh, "Hinata had requested that I take her spot as the check up." She turned her gaze towards the window right behind Sasuke and murmured quietly, "You know, every single one of us were hurt in different ways after you had left, but I think Hinata suffered the worst out of everyone."

"So let me apologize to her."

Sakura smiled sadly and shook her head, "I'm sorry to say this, but it's going to take a lot more than just an apology for her to forgive you." With that she pressed the same button that Hinata had previously pressed and Sasuke once again fell into a deep, dreamless slumber.


Sasuke dreaded waking up again, each time he did, every fibre of his body screamed rejection to his wakefulness, especially when he had a pair of hands yanking him up off the bed by his collar.

"Naruto! Stop! He's in no condition for that!" Sakura's cries were heard somewhere in the background.

"Naruto?" Sasuke groaned and opened his eyes into slits, "What the hell do you want?"

"I want an explanation!" Naruto roared and gripped the collar tighter, lifting Sasuke even further off of the hospital bed.

"Explanation to what?" The tension between the two young men still hadn't disappeared even after five years apart, in fact, it had gotten even rockier than before.

Naruto roughly dropped him back onto the bed and seethed, "Everything!"

Sasuke rolled his eyes, "Everything is too much. You have to give me some place to start, idiot." He weakly attempted to right himself up so he was propped up onto his bandaged elbows.

"Fine." Naruto spat out and grabbed a chair to drop down onto, "Begin with why the hell you appeared out of no where at the Hokage tower carrying around the head of that snake bastard, Orochimaru, then conveniently decide to go into a three month coma just as we are about to arrest and interrogate you."

Three months? Was that really how long it had taken for him to awake? Sasuke gave up trying to ignore the pain shooting up into his elbows and fell lightly back against the bed, "Two years ago, I ran away from Orochimaru to escape being used as a human puppet and went to find Itachi and train on my own.

"A year ago I found him and we fought…" He said, not caring to elaborate on the gruesome details of the battle, "In the end I won, just barely. It took me half a year to be able to heal fully, and after that I went to fight Orochimaru. By chance, I won again." He was itching to just pull out all of the IVs right then and there, "I brought back proof that he was dead so that hopefully, you guys would let me come back to my…my home."

Naruto's blue eyes softened and he stood up, "Okay. I guess that I'll question you some more later."

"Wait." Sasuke said, stopping Naruto in his tracks, "I have some questions for you too."

Naruto turned around to sit back on the chair, "Depending on the question, I suppose I can answer."

"Does…" Sasuke began, taking a deep breath and exhaling, "…does Hinata actually have another…someone?"

Naruto's eyes flashed in red, "How dare you even ask about her? Do you know how hurt she's been?" He moved to lunge at Sasuke, but was stopped by Sakura's slim hand on his shoulder, "Naruto, wait."

She turned to Sasuke with a stony look, "I've tried being nice to you to you, and although I think I agree with Naruto, I also think that this might work in Hinata's favour too." She sighed and continued, "Hinata has not even gone as so much as a date since you've left."

Sasuke raised an eyebrow, remembering how he felt when he laid eyes on her when he first woke up, "I find that hard to believe, with that…that body, she looks like the object of any straight man's wet dream." He said bluntly, trying not to give into the grief that was tearing at his heart.

"I didn't say that she wasn't asked out on plenty of dates, I just said that she hadn't gone out on any."

The joy that was shooting through his veins was barely containable, "Really? Why not?" He asked in his normal monotony.

Naruto growled, "Well, though I really have no clue as to why, but every time we asked her, she would always mumble the same reply, 'Because it's not him.'" He grumbled quietly and snuggled closer to Sakura's comforting hand on his shoulder.

Had Sasuke not been feeling so ecstatic, he might have cared that it seemed that Sakura actually liked having Naruto close to her now. He looked out the window behind his bed and remembered the countless whores and prostitutes that Orochimaru sent him; each one he had turned away snarling at Kabuto or Orochimaru, "It's not her."

"Naruto," Sakura's concerned voice woke Sasuke from his train of thoughts, "why don't you go and take a walk around, I'll take care of Sasuke." She gave a shy smile, to which Naruto grinned roguishly and pressed a quick kiss to her lips, "Try not to be too soft on him, Sakura-chan." He quickly scampered out the door and shut it behind him with a loud slam. Sasuke was one hundred percent sure he had done that just to rattle his nerves.

That last little act of affection actually did catch Sasuke's attention. After Sakura had finally finished scanning the room of anything that was not Uchiha Sasuke, Sasuke gave her 'what-took-you-so-long' look and said, "You guys took long enough."

"Shut up." Sakura muttered and pretended to skim through her clipboard and look as nothing had transpired between her and Naruto.

Sasuke only rolled his eyes, "Fine. Whatever, I won't ask any more about you two, but I will not stop asking about Hinata."

Sakura gave a quick glance in the direction of the door and then sat down in the seat that was previously occupied by Naruto, "Look, Sasuke, things are and were slightly more…complicated with Hinata than I bet they were with you."

She bit her lip, debating on what to say, "After you had left, she had gone into one of the worst states of depression that I had ever seen; she wouldn't eat, she would barely sleep, and she never told anyone. It was one mission that we found out that she was hurting herself when she just collapsed from starvation and exhaustion. I think that the only reason she began eating again is because we almost died trying to save her during that mission.

"Did you know," She began again, "that no had ever seen her cry after that one mission? She's barely shown any signs depression and all, the only way that we know she's suffering is because Neji told us that every night he can hear her sobbing through the walls.

"Hinata deserves a lot better than what she's gotten." Sakura whispered, "And I know plenty more people here who've had to have been physically restrained from storming in here and killing you right away just for breaking Hinata's heart."

This information pained Sasuke even more than when he had been told that she had been seeing someone. It hurt him to know that the one who he had devoted his whole heart to was hurting so badly because of him. He asked Sakura in a tortured voice, "Please, Sakura, I want to see her so badly." He hoped his begging would break through to her finally.

Sakura turned her head away from him, "The first day that she found out that you were here, she ran screaming into the room and began to hysterically shout orders, sobbing the whole time. After you were in a stable enough condition, she began to come in here and talk to your comatose body, fix your pillows and crying to you, never once getting furious or angry at you." Sakura bit her lip and kept turning her gaze towards the door, perhaps expecting someone to come in, "She just…missed you."

"How do you know this?"

Sakura blushed, it was obvious that she had been eavesdropping, "Never mind that, the point is, she still comes to see you even when you're capable of being awake. Well not capable, just in a steadier condition."

She gave the door one quick glance before quickly saying, "Listen, everyday at five o'clock, she comes in and visits you. Because I think this might help the both of you, I'm going to let you stay awake until she does; but I'm going to warn you, your body might be in a lot of pain now that you're awake."

She stood up and began to leave before giving Sasuke a small genuine smile, "What you do when she gets in here is entirely up to you, whether you totally screw this up, is also entirely up to you." She walked to the door and opened it, "I would suggest pretending to be asleep and disguising your chakra level until she arrives." He could hear her quiet "Good luck." through the door just after she left.


Hinata quietly opened the door and set a vibrant display of flowers in a glass vase beside the metal hospital bed and sat down beside the unconscious body, absentmindedly stroking the palm of the hand. Looking around the room she smiled slightly, "Well, it looks like most of the machinery is gone now; you heal pretty quickly, huh Sasuke?"

She gently rested her head on his chest and looked up at his calm face, whispering, "I know I've said this a million times, but why'd you have to leave?" She snuggled her face into his chest as if ashamed someone would see the tears that were falling down her face.

"I wish you didn't go, I wish you didn't go…" She kept chanting over and over again like a mantra of sorts. She looked back up at his face and gently began stroking his relatively unscathed cheek, "I hate that you left, why did you have to?"

His head slowly turned to press his dry lips against hers, startling her beyond belief. She jumped away from him and half snarled, "Wh-why are you awake?" her chest rising rapidly and distracting Sasuke momentarily.

Sasuke tried to give a smile and pushed away the rejection he was feeling, "It's good to see you again too, Hinata."

"Don't talk to me." This seemed to be too much for her, her eyes that were beginning to well up again with water kept darting towards the door, searching for an escape route.

"Don't leave. Please." He begged and held out an expectant hand, "Just talk to me at least, yell at me if you must, I don't care. Just stay." He noticed her unwilling look and pleaded once more, "Humour me."

"This sounds like something I might have said before you…before that time." She muttered to herself, not wanting to speak of his disappearance at all. She crossed her arms, ignoring his outstretched hands and stiffly sat down, "What do you want me to say?"

"I guess it's not really about what I want you to say, it's more of what you are willing to say." He said, chuckling softly and no longer caring about keeping his cool façade; hell, she had been the first one to see through it already.

"So…how do you feel?" She asked awkwardly and bent slightly closer to fluff up his pillow, just as any nurse would do, "Do your wounds hurt at all?"

Sasuke gave a grim smile, "Of course, every fibre of my body is telling, or more like shrieking painfully, that I should give up talking to you to go to sleep." He admitted and fluttered his eyelids just to make sure they still worked.

"Then I'll go and—"

"Stop." He tightly gripped her wrist and gently pulled her back onto his chest, paying no heed to her struggling and beet red face, "I didn't say I wanted you to go, did I?" He took her palm and carefully put it on his cheek where it had been before, "I…I don't want you to leave. It'll hurt more." He had found before that it was damn near impossible to beat around the bush and avoid saying his feelings to Hinata, she always managed to find a way to weasel the answer out of him anyways.

"Stop, please, Sasuke." She pleaded and slowly slipped her fingers out of his, but made no move to remove her head from his chest.

Sasuke made a noise that somewhat resembled a growl, "Why do you do this? I've been told that you come in here all the time to visit me; and just now, you said that you missed me." He tore his gaze away from her, "I missed you a lot too."

She pressed her face into his chest and took deep breaths, "I do it because I…I don't want to be hurt again." One hand she used to entangle her fingers with his, and the other she used to wipe away the tears, "But I don't want to be away from you for another second." She cried quietly into his chest, relieved to be comforted by his gentle and reassuring squeezes he kept giving her hand.

Sasuke tenderly brought her closer to his face and swiped away the tears that were falling down her face, "Good. At least I know that you weren't cheating on me." He gave her a grin that was almost equivalent to Naruto's roguish grins. Well, equivalent in Sasuke's terms.

"Don't." She buried her head in the crook of his neck and mumbled, "Don't joke like that. You don't know how much it had hurt me after you left."

Sasuke clenched her wrists and brought her tear streaked face up to his, "You think that it was easy for me?" He hissed, "Do you know what hell I endured while I was with Orochimaru?" He placed his forehead against hers and whispered, "It was even worse than hell."

More tears began to spill from her eyes and she broke into a new fit of sobs, "But you chose to go! You chose to leave me!" She closed her eyes, "Promise me, that you'll never leave me ever again. I don't know if—if I could live through it."

He gave her a half grin, "So…you do want me back?"

She nodded against his forehead and he fully grinned, "Well, if I have to promise you something, You half to promise me something," He brought his lips to hers and held that position for a few moments and broke away, smiling at her shy smile and pink face, "Promise that you'll smile for me."


-Authoress begins to cry tears of joy- YES! I've completed a story that's longer than a one shot! –Blows kisses to lovely readers and audience- Thank you every one who's been patient with me and giving me those warm fuzzy reviews!

Ciao,

MissLe