She screams (thrashes, cries, sobs, weeps, begs) and reaches out to him as they lead him into the room.

He's going to die. Don't you care? Don't you care at all?

But it's all in her head, as if her body has been turned to stone or someone is intercepting the messages from her brain.

Because she is silent.

(And oh, why can't they hear the screaming in her head?)

Not even a whimper escapes her lips, but inside her head Inner Sakura is pounding on all the surfaces she can get her fists on.

And it hurts, so tiny tears form at the corners of her eyes.

They lead him in.

Why is he following meekly?! Get out get out getoutgetoutgetout –

Maybe he wants to die.

And indeed his face shows no emotion.

(But he's been good at hiding his emotions since –

since then.)

She wants to scream and drag him away and hide him

don't let them find you hide away run away go away

I won't let you die.

But she can't do anything to help him, because some invisible force is keeping her from crying out

(but Shikamaru is on the other side of the room, and so is Ino, so it can't be either of them).

She wants to scream his name and clasp him to her and never let him go until it's safe

but all she can do is watch, unable to tear her eyes away –

and then she meets shishou's eyes

and shishou can see right through her icy (unintentional) façade to the trembling

(screaming, thrashing, swearing, sobbing)\

girl who lives inside.

And shishou raises her hand and everyone halts

(and the elders open their mouths to protest)

and shishou gives him a nudge toward the door.

Everyone else is in shock, but she's finally been released


and she grabs his arm and whisks him away before the shouting can begin.

Once they're outside

(safe, away)

she places a relieved kiss on his cold, pale, smooth cheek and attempts to slip away before she can be hurt by him again.

But his hand flashes out and suddenly she is in his arms and he is spiriting her away, away, so far away.

Her face glows and she lets out a laugh.




And watching from a window in the middle of chaos, shishou smiles.