Full summary: He was brought in. A killer, a murderer, a villain. She was assigned to heal him. A medic, a giver, a healer. She was determined to come out on top. To become something she wasn't. But the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
The first day she felt nothing.
It was the day he was brought in.
He kept his head down respectfully or maybe spitefully. It took four men to drag him in and supervise. She suspected that four men wouldn't be enough and now that she looks back, she realizes it wasn't. He was cooperating for reasons unknown to her, maybe even unknown to himself.
The fact that Konoha now had custody of this man was wrong. She felt it in her very gut. It was wrong. The thought kept crashing down upon her. She was unable to explain this sudden feeling. Her head pounded, her mouth went dry, her throat burned. It was not the village's battle to fight. It was not their right to step in. It was Sasuke's conflict. She had learned this many years ago when she took it upon herself to promise to aid Sasuke and he turned the other way. He wanted no help. It was his battle and he would fight until he came out victorious or dead.
It felt wrong to take that from him. Because in the end, Sasuke's whole life was devoted to avenging his clan and killing Uchiha Itachi. In the act of taking that away from him, they took away his life- what kept him going. He was an avenger. And it was then that she realized he always would be.
She had never seen such surveillance and security before. But she supposed it was needed; he was a dangerous man after all. He looked at her as he was taken away. Emerald connected with crimson and a warm feeling invaded her senses. One by one until all five were clouded.
He was a dangerous man. But a lonely one too.
"Many casualties," she said, leaning lazily on her desk. Sakura sat in her seat uncomfortably, wishing she could snatch that bottle from the Hokage's desk. The clock ticked loudly, almost as loud at the pink haired girl's heart. She found herself suddenly interested in the hem of her dress. Stitch by stitch, she picked at her dress until a sizable hole appeared. "Many injuries."
She dared not look at the woman's eyes for fear that she would break down right then and there. That she would hold for later. Sakura nodded her head as if she understood. But she didn't and wouldn't until she stepped into the room for her assignment. All around- men and women, crying and screaming, begging for life- for mercy. She determined they made up three teams. But now as they appeared before her, they were reduced to children all crying for their mothers, for their gods. One even cried for him.
"Must have done a number on him," Shizune sighed. "Once he has you- in his screwed up little world- you're done for. Not many people can bounce back." Sakura watched the man cry as she slipped on her latex gloves and grasped heavily to the words coming from Shizune's mouth. "It becomes hard to establish reality from an illusion." Shizune grabbed a tub of ripped, tattered, and blood-stained clothing. "But in the end, what's the difference?"
"But why would he call for him?"
"Why do people call for their gods?" Shizune asked, smiling in an attempt to add some sparkle to a once glittery face. "Some believe their gods punish them. They give them hell and they are the only ones who can take it away."
"He believes he is still stuck in Uchiha's world?" Sakura asked. She didn't understand and probably wouldn't until later.
"Maybe he still is."
Nurses ran back and forth, trying to make due. Sakura walked across the room, white coat flapping lazily as she strode. It was difficult to determine where to start. It had seemed useless. Like crying over spilt milk. But this wasn't milk.
No, it was blood.
She sat in the waiting room, her coat tainted red. Her coffee tasted acidic. She refused to put any sugar in it. It was a bitter day; it deserved a bitter taste.
"It's the price we pay," Kakashi sighed beside her. She turned to acknowledge him but let her head drift back to its previous position. It hung heavily, a clear sign of stress and duty. "As ninja," he added. As ninja. She wasn't sure if she knew what that meant anymore.
"I suppose," she answered after a long pause, but her ex-sensei had long left. She hadn't even seen him leave. This time her good blonde-haired friend sat beside her. He tried not to look too concerned, knowing that it would only upset the fragile female. She smiled at him before glancing towards the clock. How long had she zoned out? He didn't know what she was talking about but he soaked in the words and nodded nevertheless. Her words came out slow and lazy. They were completely opposite to the norm- hyper, fiery, and loud. Her hair was long and seemed duller today. Even duller than the day Sasuke left.
"I have to get back to work," she whispered, putting the half empty styrofoam cup of coffee aside. Later the janitor would pour it out in the sink and watch it disappear from the stainless steel tub. He would crush the cup in his hand and toss it in the trash along with all the others. No one would spare another glance.
"I bet she would excuse you from this if you ask," he suggested. He knows this is all hitting her close to home. Ever since they had been little she'd fawned over the Uchiha, pouted when he insulted her, cried when he left, died when he refused to come back.
And even though it wasn't him in that cell, it might as well have been.
"It's my responsibility," she said standing up stiffly. She took a moment to stretch and a warm feeling crawled up her limbs, continuing to spread through her body until a long needed groan was admitted. She allowed herself this pleasure knowing that nothing but pain would follow for the next few days. "I cannot back down."
"If you could help me understand," he started but soon regretted it. Questioning her would lead him nowhere. She was a closet full of emotions, one where the key was hard to find. He understood this much: the man was an Uchiha. This alone made heads turn. Naruto cared for the younger just as much as her, but that was not him. The man in the cell was not him. If anything, this should be joyous. The man who had caused so much pain, so much hurt, was finally where he belonged.
"Sakura," he said before she had the chance to leave. She didn't turn around so he repeated her name until he saw her visibly stiffen. "I know you're really tense right now. This is a lot for you to take."
"For me to take," she said, half listening to the words coming from her friend's mouth. Slowly she turned to observe her friend.
"Not just for you," he corrected and stood. He reached out to her and gathered her hands in his. "For anyone." She smiled. "It's strange, almost surreal, that he's sitting in one of Konoha's cells. Him. It's frightening, but soon he'll be gone and-"
He'll be gone.
He stopped when he saw her look away. She pulled her hands from him but offered a saddened smile in their place. She couldn't help but think of the younger Uchiha; his face haunted her dreams, his voice spoke to her in the dark. They always left. They were all the same.
"I need to go."
Naruto looked at the cup of coffee. He liked to think of it as half full.
"Where is he?" a deranged patient yelled. His screams rang in her ear. She calmly told him to lay back. He would have ripped her stitches with all that movement. His eyes darted back and forth. His fingers shook dangerously. She contemplated sedating him but couldn't bring herself to punish him for his pain.
"He is locked away," she whispered, bandaging a wound on his arm. She knew she wasn't allowed leak any sort information, but she would do anything to comfort her patients. Especially the dying ones. Some were stuck in their own minds, clenching from the pain and crying from the sting. They didn't even know how it had all ended. That was saying something. No, that was yelling something. The blood seeped into the cloth quickly. He seemed to relax the slightest although he looked around the room, delirious. She wanted to help him. Wanted to make him feel better. So she lied. "There is nothing to worry about."
"Red eyes," he whispered from his barely moving mouth. He coughed and Sakura wiped the red liquid from his mouth. She missed it the first time, but he said it again and she thought she understood. She felt they were in the same boat and she imagined them, sitting in the middle of the dark sea, waiting for someone to throw them rope.
A few hours passed and that man died. Sakura prayed. She hadn't believed in God, but now was just as good a time as any to start. She didn't know if it was right. In fact, it felt quite wrong. But as she folded her hands and closed her eyes, she prayed for him.
"Forgive him for all his sins."
She didn't pray for the woman who lost her leg. She didn't pray for the little children who would never see their parents again. She didn't pray for that dying man. She didn't pray for herself. Those would be a waste. Those things could not be changed. Instead she prayed for him.
She cleared her throat. She was not sure how to end this. So she unfolded her hands and played numbly with the ends of her pink hair. She guessed she was waiting for some kind of spirit to fill the room, her mind, her every fiber of being. Shizune ran in and immediately Sakura rose from her knees. There was no revelation, no spirit. There was nothing.
"Sakura," is the only thing the woman said. And there was a large pause. The two stared at each other. They were at a loss. "Sakura, I think it's time for you to go home."
Sakura didn't argue. She was exhausted, she was weak, and she was tired. She was haunted.
She brushed past Shizune and paused at the door for only a moment.
And she left.
The sun was almost rising. She had spent her whole night in the hospital, trying to save lives she knew were already damned. But such was the fortitude that the pink-haired medic so proudly owned. It was one trait she wished never to lose. She supposed she should feel grateful that she had been giving the ability to do such a thing and she guessed that maybe she was. With certain powers come certain responsibilities. It couldn't help the empty feeling in her gut, however.
She turned to see her friend run over, hand in the air so that the pink-haired medic would not miss her. Sakura smiled and lifted her hand- her pathetic excuse for a wave. Her friend neared with large huffs, a clear indication that she had been running.
"What are you doing up so early?" Ino asked, taking out her long hair out of the ponytail. It flowed over her shoulders and swayed in the light breeze. Sakura chose to stare at it. Fatigue was most definitely taking over.
"You mean, what am I doing up so late," Sakura snorted, taking the time to lean her exhausted figure on the closest wall. Ino followed her with swinging arms that provided a small stretched to smooth her tense muscles.
"Oh really? Well, I didn't go home last night either," the blond blurted, never missing the chance to step into the spotlight. Sakura watched as a sly grin formed on her friend's face. Under any other circumstances, Sakura would have smiled along. Instead, her eyelids closed shut and she swayed slightly. "But I'm bolting over to the flower shop before they open up. Forgot to water some plants. But you can't really blame me. Any girl would get swept up in the pure intimacy."
Sakura rolled her eyes. Ino was truly a romantic.
"Who's the lucky guy?" Sakura asked after finally finding the strength to smirk. She looked past Ino at a couple walking down the road, ditracting her enough from her friend's story. They were not staggering nor were they tripping, meaning they weren't night owls just coming back from the bar. No, instead they walked. Hand in hand. And it was peaceful and innocent. It was something that reminded her of the sky. Beautiful and big, soft and safe. She wished everything was.
"Not just a guy," Ino corrected, one finger in the air. She moved in front of Sakura to block the view of the couple who had just turned the corner. She huffed when she noticed her friend wasn't paying attention. "Hey. Look alive. He's not just a guy. He's a teammate."
Ino smiled because she knew Sakura understood. "Shikamaru."
"And I hope Temari cries when she finds out," Ino laughed, waving goodbye.
Secretly, Sakura did too. She didn't have a reason to cry, but now that Temari did, she hoped she could cry for her.
That night Sakura took a cold shower. She let it run through her hair, tickling down her neck in a way that gave her the chills. She welcomed it freely and her body raked. A soft whimper and she shut off the water. The mirrors weren't foggy but she wished they were. This way she had to look at her reflection, one that she had once took pride in. For reasons unknown to her, she saw someone she didn't know. The pads on the tips of her fingers gently touched the mirror's surface. From then on, she would shower in the dark.
Lives in exchange for one. She wondered if that made any sense. The toll was great for the arrest of Uchiha Itachi. And for what? So that he would die? Dieing for the sake of someone else dieing made no sense to her and she figured it probably never would. She wrapped herself in her blanket, almost forming a cocoon. She was shielding herself. But from what, she did not know.
That night she dreamt of nothing because in the end, she felt nothing.
A/N: Angst, cheesiness, bad spelling, inconsistent tenses. Lots of mistakes. I know and I will fix it. One day.