A/N: Wow. This is quite possibly the oddest, most random thing I've written. Blame the impulses.
I kinda like it (for now…I'll wind up hating it later). In a messed up way.
I really wanna hear some feedback. Really.
Le gasp. It's here! Symbolism!
(Review or PM me with any questions, but what you think something means, to you, is what it means. There's more than one way to go about it, you know?)
Alternate Universe Oneshot. Woot. Totally warped SASUSAKU.
My Fair Lady
Her joints seem to creak in protest as she lifts her arms, and lifts her legs, and giggles (madly) like the child she once was and will never outwardly be again.
But internally, it is different. Internally, she can be whatever she wishes to be, because her internal self is her secretive self, and she can't help it if her internal, secretive self likes to come out to play sometimes.
Limbs land back on the bed, shoulders slumped as the legs cross.
A slight pause.
"Where is Thumbkin, where is Thumbkin…" she sings, giggling again.
She lifts up a slender, pale thumb to her wide eyes and bends it. In fascination, she watches the folds and wrinkles appear in the skin where the finger creases, and her mouth goes slack, for only one moment.
Then her crooked smile spreads across her crazed, beautiful face, and she is Her.
The thumb straightens as the other fingers curl loosely, and She bounces the hand like a child would when playing with a new doll.
"Here he is, here he is…"
The hospital gown rustles in a stiff fashion as She lifts the other hand and repeats the same motions. Both appendages move towards each other in their bobbing fashion, the thumb bending, then straightening, then bending, and then straightening again…
"How are you this morning…"
She changes the pitch of her voice to a lower, raspier octave.
"Very well, I thank you…"
Higher voiced, now.
"Run and hide, run and hide…"
Run and hide!
Today, She tells her that they're made of tin. That is why it hurts to move her arms, and her legs, and her elbows, and her knees. They need oil to function properly. That is why they creak, so loudly, in her ears.
"But who should we ask for oil?"
She tells her that, silly, why should we have to ask? The pretty blonde woman, the one we like in the white coat, is already giving us oil with that thing. See, there? In her hand.
"When Sai visits, he says that those are shots. So we don't go even crazier. Remember?"
But we don't like Sai. He makes fun of us. Why should we trust him?
"Sai draws us pictures. Like the ones in the storybooks."
The statement is ignored, like all rational things the original Sakura says. The rational things that contradict the secretive Sakura are always ignored.
She only smiles in a pretty, dainty way as the doctor slips the syringe into her porcelain flesh, and thanks her after she pulls it out.
The doctor seems surprised, but says anyway, "You're welcome."
Then she is alone again, in her room.
A clock ticks in time with her heartbeat. She counts.
Th-thump. Tick. One.
Th-thump. Tick. Two.
Th-thump. Tick. Three.
Th-thump. Tick. Four.
Th-thump. Tick. Fi-
"Sai, if you insult my manhood one more time I'm going to personally tear off your drawing hand."
"Naruto-kun, most people wouldn't be so defensive about it. Do you have something to hide?"
Her head cocks to one side and she looks towards the door, as the voices become clearer and closer. They are walking to her.
Her friends are walking to her! It must be Saturday!
Her smile –the real, pretty, (sane) one- stretches her face.
"Hm," Sai hums, smiling slightly as he reaches for the doorknob of his friend's room. "Don't be so loud, Naruto-kun. You might upset the wackjobs."
Naruto grumbles as though personally offended by the comment. "Insensitive bastard."
Sai's smile doesn't waver.
In the room, Sakura is very nearly bouncing (up, down, up, down, back and forth).
She loves Saturdays, even more than the pretty pictures that Sai draws her, or the yummy ramen that Naruto buys for her at lunchtime.
Saturdays are when her friends come to visit.
She smiles, her happy face nearly splitting, and her big, wide eyes a little less glazed.
Naruto, his smile even larger than her own, and Sai, his smile fake, take their places beside her bed. They sit in the un-cushioned chairs, because humans are creatures of habit and fall prey to routine.
Naruto babbles on for quite a bit, Sai adding his own viewpoint every few minutes ("Sai, I swear I will get a pair of blunt scissors and chop it right off! You'll never paint again!") ("Don't give the basket case any ideas, Naruto-kun.") and then Sakura knows it is her turn.
She chews on the end of a chopstick that Naruto gave her for the ramen she would have later ("It always tastes better when you use your own chopsticks. The ones at the restaurant have too many splinters in them.") and thinks.
Finally, she tells her friends about her creaking joints and the nice doctor giving her oil when she needed it. She is made of tin.
Naruto's smile disappears, and she misses it. Sai is impassive.
The blond abruptly stands up, pushing his chair back almost roughly, and walks out of the room with a muffled, "I need to talk to Tsunade-baachan."
Sakura bites her bottom lip, and turns to Sai, who is sketching in his favorite green notebook.
"Did I do something wrong?" she asks, afraid of the answer.
"Yes. But you didn't mean to," he answers, not looking up from the page. "You're crazy, after all. You can't understand."
Her small pot of anger boils. "I'm not crazy!"
"Yes, you are. And so was Naruto-kun's mother. That's why it bothers him to see you like this."
He looks up at her through his short bangs for a fraction of a second.
"You used to be the brightest person we knew," he says when he looks back down. "And now you're just crazy."
No! You're wrong!
"You're the crazy one!"
"I'm not the one who's been institutionalized." He rips the sheet out of the book, leans on the scratched up cover to scrawl his tiny signature, and hands the paper over to Sakura.
She forgets the harshly spoken words from moments before, and accepts it with awe.
"It's pretty," she breathes, but is breathless at the same time. "Who is it? She looks like a princess."
Sakura stares at him for a few seconds, then back down at the illustration. "You knew her? Before she died?"
Sai purses his lips and looks at the ceiling before opening his notebook again.
The thin pencil in his hand remains poised above the blank canvas, unsure.
So he decides to answer.
"Before she killed herself trying to fly, you mean." He pauses, and his face is still indifferent to his harsh (but true) words. "I only met her once or twice, before she went insane. She was …nice." Hesitance, for him, because he isn't so good with naming emotions.
Sakura licks her parched, cracked lips, but stops when she realizes her tongue is dry, too. "Why'd you draw her?"
"She had a nice smile."
Sakura hugs the picture, the paper crinkling in protest, and all is forgiven for now.
"London Bridge is falling down…"
She is sitting up again, the next wonderful early Saturday morning, sitting cross-legged and clutching her thin ankles in her bony hands.
"Falling down, falling down…"
And she is Her, the sly, cold, terribly beautiful Her, with the crooked smile and the hateful words.
"London Bridge is falling down…"
There are footsteps coming down the hallway; they echo in a hollow way that gives Her a resentful feeling in the very deepest pit of her stomach.
The footsteps die in front of the door. There are voices, two of them, one of which she doesn't recognize.
But the new voice is impassive and deep and smooth and, in an odd way, slightly comforting to the ears (regardless of the fact that she can't understand what it is that they are talking about).
She cranes her neck a little.
She laughs (insanely).
"My fair lady…"
The doorknob twists so that the door squeaks open.
Today, She is not tin. Today, She is just Her, and Her alone; and that is worse.
A boy, one that looks kind of like Sai, steps into the room. He pauses, and their eyes meet.
His face is blank.
She smiles an awful, wolfish smile.
And Tsunade gives the two a cheerful wave, a whispered word to the stranger, and a dazzling grin to the patient, before she walks away.
"Behave," she calls back airily.
Neither knows whom the statement is directed to.
So they stare after her a bit, decide a bit is more than enough, and look at each other instead.
She doesn't like the silence, not at all, because the air could be filled with condescending words instead.
"You're pretty." She giggles.
The new boy doesn't respond.
So She tries again.
"You look girly, for a boy."
No response. Stare.
She frowns at that. She wants to get a rise out of him.
He's worse than Sai.
She pastes the smile back on with the thought, and attempts again.
"I bet you get made fun of a lot."
"I bet your mommy and daddy don't love you."
"I bet you're crazy."
"I bet that this isn't your original personality."
The boy has interrupted her, and it is that soothing voice from the hallway that still manages to cut her to the bone at the same time.
She frowns again, not liking the interruption.
"I bet you don't get along with others very well."
Her frown deepens.
"I bet that you can't accept the fact that you're the crazy one."
A dry lick of the lips. A tightening of hands around ankles.
His facial expression has not changed.
There is silence that remains unbroken, and an almost invisible bridge is built.
She will not be weakened by such meaningless words, and he knows this.
"Why are you here?" She asks, in a tone of venom.
He sits in the chair farthest from Her bed, crosses his arms, and closes his eyes.
"It isn't voluntary," he spits back, but his voice is blank, so it hurts more.
"Why are you here?" Repetition.
"I don't want to be," he all but grumbles. His dark eyes are open again- accusing.
"Why are you here?" Repeat, repeat, repeat.
"Why are you so interested?"
The tone She uses is almost desperate, so She is graced with a clipped, curt answer.
Her dull jade eyes narrow as she smirks wickedly.
"What'd you do?" Morbid curiosity.
"None of your business."
"You aren't any fun," She wines in a mocking tone. "You're so boring."
She blinks for a moment, mouth a pondering line and eyebrows slightly raised.
"What're you going to do here, anyway?"
His eyes flash back to Her, and She comes close to growling. Opposition is not something She is used to.
"Obviously not going to have a stimulating intellectual conversation."
"I didn't ask what you're not doing. I asked what you are doing. There's a difference." A slight pause. "And don't use such big, stupid words. It makes you sound old."
The clipped response makes Her face twist.
"I don't like you one bit," She declares defiantly, sneering in a vicious manner.
"The feeling is mutual."
Her eyes widen, before slimming into thin viridian windows. Her parched tongue runs over cracked lips. "What do you have to do here?"
She blinks. "That's it? You have to talk? That's not much of a punishment."
"Believe me, it's worse than it sounds." He retorts, resisting the looming urge to roll his eyes.
She rolls Her's, instead, because self-control is not a necessity for a basket case.
Or so Sai would say.
But Sai says a lot of things.
"You're acting strangely." The stranger's voice carries Her out of Her sulking reverie. She frowns.
"How would you know? I've never met you before- we don't even know each other's names."
"I talked to Tsunade before. She said that as long as you take your medicine, you're perfectly civil to talk to."
"I doubt it," he says, eyeing her carefully. "She had no reason to."
"Maybe she just doesn't like you."
He snorts lightly. "I know for a fact that she doesn't. But she does respect me enough to not lie to my face."
Her face crinkles like a thin sheet of paper. "What else did she tell you?"
"Your name. That's about it. And stop trying to change the subject."
She feigns innocence. "I'm not. And what's my name? Maybe she lied about that, too."
"She didn't lie. And your name is Sakura. Haruno Sakura."
She scowls. Again.
"And I have a feeling you haven't been taking your medication."
More death glares.
"As a matter of fact, I have been," She clarifies snidely, "The nurses supervise me."
He doesn't resist the urge this time. He rolls his dark eyes.
"You take pills, right?"
She nods Her head, slowly, suspicious.
He clucks his tongue, and stands. He walks over to the side of Her bed, and She looks up at him, a little malicious and a little surprised.
They stare at each other, and She feels something odd stirring in her chest. She rubs viciously at Her collarbone, and wills it to go away.
Suddenly, his arm shoots out and grips Her pillow. He yanks it out from under Her head, and She lets out a yelp as the back of it hits the mattress.
Without any show of expression, he turns the pillow over so that the opening to the case is facing downward, and shakes it.
On cue, an uncountable amount of brightly colored pills clatter to the floor and scatter away from one another, rolling in all directions.
He turns back to Her, and She is livid, and he lifts an eyebrow.
"You hide them under your tongue."
There is silence as he tosses the pillow back at Her. She catches it without moving Her eyes away from him, and puts it back where it belongs, Her skeletal fingers twitching.
He doesn't move from his spot. "You'd be better off taking them. You would've been out of here ages ago."
The morbid curiosity comes back in full throttle.
"What's your name?"
Ever so slightly, he cocks his head to one side. "Why so interested all of a sudden?"
"You're trying to change the topic again." He pauses to look at the windowless wall, before staring back down at Her. "Keeping the spotlight off of yourself won't make it go away."
"Just answer. It's not fair that you know my name and I don't know yours."
He almost sighs, She can tell, but doesn't, and answers, finally, "Sasuke."
She realizes that She has been rather bored lately, Herself, until he came in. Until Sasuke came in.
There was something about being able to put a name to a face that made her bolder, her father had told her once. Back Then, Before This.
Sasuke doesn't react in the slightest when She suddenly jumps up onto her knees, so that they are eye level and only centimeters apart (She realizes, in the back of Her mind, that the bed is higher than She remembers).
He notices how off and odd Her smile looks, how out of place and sickening it must feel on her (the real her) face.
Sasuke however, is surprised when Her thin hands find their place on both sides of his head, and stay there. She cherishes the look- his wide eyes, and slightly parted mouth.
The hold is vice-like, and the term 'looks can be deceiving' floats somewhere in the back of Sasuke's mind. He lifts his own hands, and puts them on Her tiny wrists; almost afraid they will snap- that he will break Her.
(She is fragile)
"What," he asks, shock replaced with wariness, "are you doing?"
"Having fun," is all She says, before the awful smile grows wider.
Sasuke's eyes dart from one hand, to the other, and then back to Her face.
"Yes," She giggles; there is a dangerous edge to her voice, "Fun."
And She kisses him with the smile still stretching Her face.
He is even more surprised than before, She can tell, because it takes a few long moments for him to react. His warm hands leave Her wrists, which are tense with Her clenching hands, and instead find their place on Her sharp shoulders.
He tries to push Her off, tries to protest as She presses Her lips into his, but it is hard. She is thin, and slippery, and every time he gets Her off, he only has enough time to take a short breath before She lunges back down for another.
She laughs cruelly through the encounter, and suddenly She is choking on something. She swallows it, and coughs, and Sasuke takes this opportunity to back away, far, far away, to the other side of the room.
And he smirks.
She feels her eyes widen. She lifts a shaking finger and points it at him, as though it is a knife, and it might as well be.
"Y-you," She gasps, touching her pale throat in disbelief, "You bastard!"
He cocks his head to one side, still smirking, still saying nothing.
"You had one of my stupid pills in your mouth?! How?"
"I hid it. Under my tongue."
She gapes. She had been tricked, had been tricked into taking the medication that would push Her away.
She didn't want to be pushed away.
Before anything She is thinking slips out, a glass is thrust under Her nose. It is filled with water, and the light going through it makes little, dancing rainbows appear on her bed sheets. She looks up, and sees Sasuke beside the bed again.
Numbly, Her narrow hand goes up and grips the cup. Sasuke releases it.
"You looked thirsty," he answers before the question can be asked.
She nods, and greedily gulps the liquid down, without pausing for breath. When it is empty, She places the glass onto her bedside table.
When She licks her lips this time, they are coated in saliva.
She is hydrated. She is satisfied.
"You're going to start feeling drowsy," the dark haired boy warns. "The medicine does that to you."
She licks her lips again, elated that they are no longer dry, and doesn't really mind. "Okay. Bye bye, then, Sasuke."
"Goodbye," Sasuke says simply, as She becomes sleepy.
Her eyelids droop.
She is lost to the world.
"Sakura-chan, come on, wake up."
The picture is blurry between her fluttering eyelashes. Her head, it feels strangely clear and level.
"Wake up, crazy hag."
She scowls. A hand, smaller and slightly thicker than the ones that had clutched her before, is shaking her shoulder. Her eyelids peel open fully.
"Shut up, Sai!"
"Naruto-kun, I think your big voice is just compensation for your lack of pe-"
"Sai, I swear to god, I'll cut it off. With your own paintbrush. I don't care how long it takes."
Sakura sits up, slowly, looking blearily at her two friends.
And suddenly Naruto is all concern and sympathy, and Sai is all fake smiles and apathetic expressions.
"Do you feel alright, Sakura-chan?" Naruto asks, innocent eyes wide with worry.
She smiles up at him (sanely) and asks, "Why wouldn't I be?"
Sai calls over, from his seat, "Because you're mentally unstable and generally insane."
Naruto snaps him a ferocious glare before turning back to the jade-eyed girl.
"Ignore him," he says, laughing openly, "He's just bitter because you're gonna be all better now, and he'll have no one to tease."
When Sakura merely looks at him with confusion, he elaborates. "Tsunade figured out that you weren't taking your medicine. It took forever, but she finally managed to force it down your throat."
He grimaces at the memory.
Sai doesn't comment.
Sakura shakes her head. "No," she says, "You're wrong."
The blond's brow furrows. "What do you mean?"
Sakura says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world, "Sasuke's the one who got me to take my pill. Tsunade was in her office."
Sai sighs, rolls his eyes, and takes out his green notebook to sketch.
Naruto's cerulean eyes are big, and sad. Now Sakura's brow furrows.
"Sakura-chan, did you say Sasuke gave you the pill?"
A slow nod of the head, as confused confirmation.
"Sakura-chan, do you mean Uchiha Sasuke?"
"I…don't know. Maybe."
"Your old boyfriend?"
Her eyes grow ridiculously wide. "What? What do you mean? I only just met him this morning. We were really rude to each other. We argued. I called him names. I'd never seen him before."
Naruto's voice is small- fearful, even. "You probably blocked it out."
"Blocked what out?"
A stubborn shake of the head. "No, no, no." Denial, denial.
"He died a year ago, Sakura-chan. Don't you remember? You were in the car with him. Hinata-chan and me were in the back. It's how I got these scars, on my cheeks. Hinata died too, remember. They were both on the same side of the car when the truck hit us. You and me were on the passenger side, so we made it out alive."
"After that is when you went crazy," Sai murmurs helpfully.
"I'm not crazy."
"Right. Which is why you hallucinate that your dead boyfriend came to make you take your medicine."
"Enough, Sai," Naruto snaps angrily. He places his hand on Sakura's shaking shoulder. His eyes soften. "Enough."
A roll of the eyes is the only response.
There is silence, and Sakura's entire body quivers. Naruto thinks she is crying.
"Please don't get upset, Sakura-chan. We don't want you to be upset. Right, Sai?"
The dark haired boy doesn't look up. "Mm."
"See? Don't cry, Sakura-chan. Please."
But she is not crying, the other two finally realize. She is laughing, hard and irrevocably insane.
And then, she is singing. They realize she is no longer herself; she is Her.
"Ring around the rosie…"
Even Sai has come over, abandoning his drawing, and the two boys stare as She rocks back and forth. Curled, smiling wickedly, and giggling.
"The medicine isn't working," Naruto says simply, his voice blank. His eyes are dark.
Sai nods, wiping a smudge of dark pencil lead off of his too pale skin. "It never has."
"Pocket full of posies…"
"We should get Tsunade-baachan. Before she falls in too deep." Naruto turns to leave.
Sai's dark eyes lock onto an empty glass on the bedside table. It is not the same as the plastic cups they normally give patients, and the way it catches the dim light makes it glow an eerie glow.
He tears his gaze away, looks at Her shadowed, shaking form one last time, and follows the bewildered Naruto out of the door.
Her laughter rips through the silence.
(She has regressed)
(She is fragile)
"We all fall down!"