(reposted this because of grammar errors...hope I got them all)
Well, this is it, the last chapter. Can't say I worked hard on it (did it all in one day), but I'm pretty happy with it. Oh, and by the way, for those of you in the previous chapter reviews who all told me I forgot about the binding jutsu, I did not appreciate that. Some of you kinda bugged me, the way you said it sounded as if you knew more about the story than I did…
Anyway, I'm happy that some of you figured out what happened! Not a lot of you did, though, which made me a little worried that I should have emphasized 'it' a bit more—how Sakura and Gaara got separated.
The first thing Gaara registered was the warmth. It confused him, because the last thing he could remember was...falling, then being cold and in pain. He had to strain to remember, and even while concentrating he could barely remember anything.
His eyelids felt heavy, and he fought to open them. He stared up at a white ceiling, then turned his head to the side, his body feeling stiff. A window was set into the wall that showed off what might be a courtyard, he could see a single tree that was just beginning to bloom. He looked at it for a moment, then look to the other side.
Sakura was sleeping in a chair right beside the bed, slumped forward onto the mattress, pillowing her head with her arms. Gaara stared at her for a moment. She looked exhausted, so he didn't attempt to wake her up. His thoughtfulness was unneeded, though. As if sensing his eyes on him, Sakura began to stir. Her face scrunched up a bit and she shifted, then slowly opened her eyes and sat up. She turned her eyes to Gaara, then her mouth popped open she jumped to her feet.
"Gaara! You're awake!"
Gaara was going to respond, but suddenly Sakura's hands were flitting over him, feeling his pulse at his neck, putting her hand on his cheek to feel his temperature, making sure the bandage on his head was set correctly. Once she was positive he was alright, she wrapped her arms around him and buried her face into his neck, relieved beyond imagination.
Confused and unsure of what to do, Gaara just slid one arm around her, rubbing her back and soothing her quietly, pressing his face into her hair. He went to put his right, arm around her, but couldn't. Looking down at himself, he saw that it was in a sling. "My arm…" he said, baffled.
Sakura pulled herself away and exclaimed, "I'm sorry! Did I hurt it?"
He shook his head. Oddly, he didn't feel any pain. Wryly, he realized he must have been drugged so he didn't feel anything. "How long have I…?"
"You've been out for five days….You're ankle is also broken, along with three of your ribs," she said quietly. Gaara frowned. He didn't remember any of this. Shouldn't he remember this? Seeing his expression, Sakura took a deep breath and said, "You fell off the cliff. The drop was at least seven hundred feet. Your sand saved your life, but even at that height it couldn't completely protect you." Her bit her lip, trying not to remember how horrible it was to see him go over. "Kakashi's the one who found you and brought you back," she added.
Sakura nodded. She had been just as confused when she had managed to calm down. "The woman I was carrying…the one who got struck in the neck. She was the one that set it on us, and when she died, it got broken." Her lip trembled, fighting her emotions.
Seeing her fighting back tears made Gaara feel extremely uncomfortable. He hesitated, and pulled her against him, half to comfort her, half so he wouldn't have to see her expression.
Sakura melted into his embrace, refusing to cry, trying to forget everything that had been going on for the last five days. Being the only medic nin on the scene, Sakura had practically worked herself to the bone trying to keep everyone in stable condition. Some of the captives needed immediate attention or they might not have survived, she had to stabilize as many as she could that were in the battle, and having to keep Gaara alive had pushed her to the brink. She hadn't slept in who knew how long, and she must have just plain passed out while watching over Gaara. She was physically, mentally, and emotionally wiped out. But letting Gaara see her cry wouldn't help with any of that, she didn't want him to think of her as being weak. Reluctantly, she pulled away, rubbing her arm. "I'm sorry…"
"You have nothing to apologize for," Anko said, walking into the room. Sakura turned, embarrassed that Anko had seen her. The older woman just grinned, then ducked out into the hallway and called, "Hey, he's awake."
Kakashi and the once-captive Toru walked in. There was something under Kakashi's mask that made it stand out by his nose. To answer Gaara's quizzical look, Anko laughed and said, "When Kakashi wouldn't let Sakura go after you, she punched him in the nose. Broke it. It looks funny because it's all bandaged up under the material."
Gaara frowned and glanced at Sakura, who blushed and looked away. To avoid looking at him, Sakura told Kakashi, "I don't see why you won't let me heal it."
Kakashi shrugged. "Sakura, you've worked hard, you don't need to fix it."
"Lair," Anko accused. "You just want her to feel guilty for hitting you."
Toru stepped close to Gaara's bed and addressed him. "Once you're well, I'm to bring you back to Suna. Do you know when you'll be able to travel?"
Gaara shook his head and looked at Sakura. She frowned, wanting to say months so she could take care of him. "In about five weeks he should be well enough," she said quietly, not meeting Gaara's eyes. It was probably a week more than he would need, but it was just seven extra days. She only had a few weeks to spend with him now, and most of her time would be spent taking care of other people…she closed her eyes momentarily, sighing.
To change the subject, she asked, "How is Hatsumi?"
Gaara faintly recognized the name, figuring it was probably Toru's female partner, the one who had trouble standing in the prison. "She's back to normal," Toru said cheerfully. "Though I have to admit that she isn't the least bit happy about staying and waiting for Gaara to heal, no offence," he added quickly. Gaara just shrugged. "She misses her home."
Anko eyed Sakura, wondering what she was thinking. She obviously wasn't happy about talking of when Gaara had to leave. "Alright, we'll leave you two alone." She grabbed Kakashi's arm and jerked her head at Toru, beginning to walk out. The two men looked confused about why they were leaving so suddenly, but didn't protest.
Sakura watched them leave, both relieved and unhappy. For some strange reason, she felt a little upset. Turning back to Gaara, her chest twisted a bit. Seeing him lie there, with his head bandaged, arm in a sling, and knowing that his chest was wrapped and his leg in cast…it didn't feel right. She didn't like knowing that Gaara could be hurt—before, she hand never even seen him with a scratch on him…and seeing him like this made him so…human.
She sighed and pushed the hair away from her face. She knew it was ridiculous, but she felt that Gaara needed her at her side to keep him safe. How did that make sense, when Gaara got into all this because of protecting her?
"Sakura, what's wrong?"
She opened her eyes, not realizing that she had closed them. "Nothing, I'm just tired, is all." Worried that she was thinking too much, Sakura figured that she should probably leave Gaara before she did something stupid. "Now that I know you're okay, I should check up on my other patients."
Sensing her sudden change, Gaara furrowed his brow. "Aren't there other nurses in this hospital?"
"Yes, but believe it or not, I'm one of the most skilled ones, and some of my patients won't want another doctor."
"You just said that you were tired. Why don't you take a rest?"
"I just did, Gaara, remember? I was sleeping when you woke up."
"Sakura, that was just a nap." He didn't understand why she was fighting him.
She shrugged, inwardly hoping that she could postpone what she thought was coming. She didn't want to have the 'talk' about what was going to happen.
She hesitated, getting a little defensive about his commanding tone.
Gaara quickly checked himself. "I want you to stay here with me," he said softly.
Slowly, she sat back in her chair. Gaara watched her. "Putting this off won't make it go away, you know."
She winced and put her elbows on the bed, letting her exhaustion show for a bit. "Yeah, I know."
"Sakura, look at me." She turned her eyes up to meet his gaze. "We can make this work."
"Gaara…I don't think we can," Sakura whispered, shaking her head and turning away.
Gaara scowled. He wanted to grab her and force her to meet his eyes, and say that everything was going to be fine, force her to believe him…but due to his injuries, he couldn't quite move enough to do just that. Taking a deep breath, he calmed himself down. He figured that even if he could, being forceful wasn't the best thing to do in this situation.
He reached out with his good hand and took hers, the contact making Sakura blink and look up at him. He leaned forward, ignoring the dull pain his chest emanated in protest, and kissed her on the mouth, well aware that he probably won't get many chances to do that in the next five weeks.
He pulled away, staring her hard in the eyes. "We will make this work."
Sakura closed her eyes, wanting to believe him, but she was just so tired that she had trouble thinking at the moment. She sighed. In a quiet voice she ordered, "Sit back, Gaara, before you reopen your wounds."
He frowned, unhappy at her coolness, moving his hand up to her face with the intent of kissing her again. Sakura stood and pushed him back, the doctor in her taking over. "Gaara, if you keep moving around you'll get your bandages bloody, and I just changed them an hour ago."
An amusing image popped in his head. Suddenly in the mood for humor, he chuckled, "You had to change my clothes while I was unconscious, didn't you?" Sakura blushed darkly, and Gaara continued, "Now, doctor, I hope you didn't take advantage of me."
Not happy about where he was going, even though it was lighthearted, she told him, "A male nurse was in charge of that, for your information." She smirked when he made a face. But his little joke brightened her mood…either that, or she really needed a nap. In hopes of getting him to listen to her, she told him, "But I'll tell you what. You be a good patient for me and I'll even help you with a shower."
Gaara raised one suggestive eyebrow, and quickly Sakura blushed red again. "I was kidding!" she told him loudly.
Gaara rolled his eyes, and grabbing the back of her neck and kissing her, he whispered against her lips, "I'm holding you to that either way."
Sakura wondered helplessly just what kind of mess she had gotten herself into, though let herself enjoy the moment. Gaara's mouth was hard but gentle against hers, and his touch on her neck made her skin tingle. She let herself relax, if only for a moment, and forgot all her problems.
They parted and Sakura pressed her face against his neck, wrapping her arms around him, careful of his injuries. As Gaara slid his arms around her, Sakura thought timidly, Maybe we can make this work.
prepare for a long ending note, you were warned
My last chapter…makes me kinda sad to see it end. Sigh Though it isn't really over, because I'm planning a sequel (which I will take my time posting, maybe it'll be out by mid-summer?).
Anyway, about this chapter—I'm a little worried that it was a little too soft for Gaara, but I couldn't help it. I've had this scene stuck in my head forever, and if I didn't write it, it wouldn't feel right. And I mentioned our little Toru, and even Hatsumi, just so they'll be in your head for the sequel…just in case I decided to use them. For any things that don't line up with Gaara's sand shield, sorry about that—in the series, I haven't even reached the time skip-thingy that everyone talks about, so I don't know much about his—or anyone's, for that matter—abilities. (But don't give me any spoilers in case you want to help! I'll find out for myself…you wouldn't believe how many things have been ruined for me…)
I want to thank all my readers who hung along until the end…you endured through long times between updates, the occasional butchering of a character's, well, character, and my longest fanfiction ever (so far). Really, I mean it, thanks. Please, review and tell me about your favorite parts of the story, some things you didn't like, I want to hear it all. Tell me anything about it that you want to say, I do not fear the long review! And, like I already said, thanks for sticking around for the end. hugs my (sometimes crazy) readers