Recommended Listening - "What Sarah Said" - Death Cab for Cutie
She could hear the beeping monitors idly in the back of her senses; heard the tip tapping of shoe soles on the tiled floors, the murmurs down the long halls slipping through her half-closed door. Felt the blood pressure cuff on her arm filling with air only to deflate again and the warm hand covering her own. Smelled the hint of cleaners making their best effort to cover the stench of blood and death and piss.
Tongue skimming the backs of her teeth, the roof of her mouth she almost gagged at the metallic flavor she found residing there; it might not have been as awful had she been able to swallow, but with the lack of saliva and her swollen throat it was impossible. Now, her medical side thought, if only I could see something. Even though she didn't quite want to see anything; opening her eyes would only allow light to reach her pupils, which would in turn make her head hurt all the worse.
However, she really couldn't get over just how little she felt besides her head and that hand someone was holding. Her lower extremities were completely numb, if she didn't know better, she'd say they were completely missing.
She wanted to open her mouth and speak, ask why she was in the hospital, why she had gone from being on a mission in Rain to here, of all places.
Gripping the only thing she could feel, that hand, she tried to convey herself, tried to make them realize she was awake, that she needed to hear something other than the intermitted noises she always heard at her hospital.
At first, she got nothing. So she squeezed again, harder, or so she hoped. She heard the rustling of fabric beside her and a slight shift of the hand she was clinging to. She did it again and finally got something real.
"A-are you awake?" She knew that voice, knew how much it meant to her, how good it felt that he was the one there, waiting for her, always waiting. And then she felt stupid. He had always been there for her, always ready to catch her should she fall, always there to be her backbone when she felt weak. And she'd done the same for him, maybe not in their early years, but now, now she was everything to him and he was everything to her, even if he didn't know it, if she hadn't until this moment.
Nodding her head as best as she could, she interlaced slightly numb fingers with his, absorbing the warmth he emitted.
He was moving again. This time she felt his lips touch the back of her hand, staying there for several moments. She felt the wetness hitting her skin, sliding down to drip onto the bedding and wondered why he was crying. She knew his emotions were something he wore on his sleeve, but what reason did he have? She wasn't in pain. She was there with him, wasn't she?
But she still wanted to say something. Wanted to ask why exactly his tears were wetting her hand.
"N-" she started, voice constricting tightly, cutting her words off. And his warm lips were gone, and another hand was on her hair, smoothing strands of pale pink back from her forehead.
"Don't try to talk. Tsunade said it would only cause you pain. She didn't even want me here; said it was best if we left you alone. I couldn't though, you know I couldn't," he whispered close to her ear where she felt his warm breath on her cheek. She wanted to reach up, to hold his face close to her and tell him she was glad, happy he was there. She didn't want to wake up alone and why Tsunade had thought such a thing, she couldn't guess. Grateful, she gave his hand another squeeze.
"You probably don't feel much right now though, right?"
She gave him a feeble nod.
"It's the pain-killers. Tsunade tried, she really did. She in another hospital room right now; she almost killed herself trying to heal you, to get the poison out.
"Th-" she coughed out, trying to clear her throat.
"Here," he said softly, withdrawing his hands and moving away from her only to return a short second afterwards. "Just one right now though." He added before placing a small ice cube on her lips, letting it melt over them, soothe the rough dryness there before placing it completely in her mouth. It couldn't get rid of the taste, but the wetness made swallowing a little easier, though pain still hit home during the process.
"There's… so-something," she paused, sucking on the little piece of melting heaven she had stored in her cheek, "you aren't telling me."
His laugh was humorless, full of pain and pity and things she didn't want to hear coming from his mouth.
"You know me too well," he uttered, voice shaking. "Here," and another piece of ice was placed to her lips. Maybe he did it to quiet her, maybe he just needed a moment to gain his composure again, but she still wanted to know what it was.
"Tell me," she whispered around the quickly dissipating cube.
Hearing him sniffle, she gave him an encouraging smile. "Tell me."
"Guess it won't just come back to you, huh? The mission went wrong; I didn't protect you."
"Its not your-"
"Yes! Yes it is!" he cried out suddenly, pulling back, hand missing once again from hers. It felt so cold without him touching her. "If I had just stayed in control, if I'd been watching you closer… I- it's just, if I hadn't been so worried about finding him, I would have seen you right there, right in front of me. And now? Now-"
And then she knew. For all her intellect, for all her training and studying, she hadn't seen it, hadn't figured all the facts into her mind when she'd woken up. But now she saw those faulty images crossing her mind.
Kakashi, dead on the muddy ground of Rain; Naruto, the Kyuubi's chakra overpowering him for the second time while she was there; her own feet slamming into the ground as she ran after her teammate, chasing the one who was responsible for their sensei's death. He'd been running too fast, she couldn't keep up with him, especially not when an unrecognizable person in an Akatsuki robe had shown up out of nowhere.
"Miss me?" they'd said, and she'd remembered the voice, even without the body. It shouldn't have been possible, couldn't have been. She'd worked so hard to defeat him.
"Have a taste of these new poisons," he'd uttered before his puppets had her surrounded, various sharpened poisoned weapons stabbing through her, several cracking under her punches and kicks. But they'd still landed the blows, still laced her veins with their venom.
"If you can create antidotes for all of those, I'll give you a special present," he'd laughed, before withdrawing, chakra strings trailing after him. She'd found it ironic that he didn't even want to watch her die. No one would be there to watch her die at all now; it had been the last thought on her mind as she'd collapsed on the ground.
Yet, here she was now. Back in Konoha, in the very hospital she'd spent numerous hours healing the sick, mending the injured. Something was missing.
"W-what happened," she coughed then, pain lancing through her chest, something she was partly glad for, because it meant she could feel something, but partly not cause it hurt like hell.
"Hey, hey," he said, warm hands on her icy skin again, touching her face, her hair, "calm down and have some more ice. It'll help." This time, his fingers lingered on her lips, neither pressing to them nor moving away.
Able to breath again, she went on. "What happened after- after I was attacked?"
"Yamato's team showed up. Sai was ordered to bring you back here."
"A-and you?" she queried, voice strained.
"Yamato helped me out." By his tone, she could tell he didn't want to discuss it.
"And this?" She gestured with the hand he'd earlier been holding.
"Tsunade… she tried to get all the poison out. In fact, she managed to remove several. But there were just so many. And they worked so damned fast." She didn't like the hesitance in his voice and raised one hand to touch his cheek and slide through the longer blond hair at his neck.
"Go on," she encouraged.
Choking on his words he said, "You- you don't have a lot of time."
She had felt it coming and somehow, she could accept it. Maybe it was because she was in Konoha; maybe it was because she knew as a shinobi death would come sooner for her than others; maybe it was simply due to the fact that she'd felt it with her medic side. These were all maybe's though, she knew the truth of the matter was him.
He was there, and that's all she needed. She needed someone to watch over her as she died.
"It's alright, Naruto," she said quietly.
"No, it's not. It never will be. This shouldn't be happening to you. Not you. I can't do it. I can't just let you go."
She smiled at that, "Better me than you, Rokudaime."
She felt his head against her arm, his tears once again dampening her skin, the sheets, her heart.
"Look at it this way, Naruto," she clutched at his shirt with her single functioning hand, "love… is watching someone die."
He sobbed her name.
"I love you, too, Naruto," she whispered, each descending beep on the monitor echoing her words.
"Sakura-chan," he cried, "who's going to watch me die?"
Her words were barely audible, but they would stay in his mind forever.
Okay, I know, I know, I know... I said updates were coming on other fics last time I posted on here... but, you know what... you guys need to take that up with Shanny, lolol, she only inspires me to write SasuSaku... the only reason this oneshot got started was because I had/have a serious infatuation with the song "What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie, thus, that is the major influence of this fic. So, if you notice a couple phrases, that'd be why. Now... I'm totally going away, for a little bit, since Shanny is, at this very moment, proofing another SasuSaku smut fic (oh lord) to write on A Sakura's Scent, possibly Chakra Block (since I'm missing my KakaSaku action), or "Again I Ask" because I still think their story could have been ADORABLE and hot, of course. But, I'll have another up within, I don't know, an hour or so. And hopefully, I'll get at least one chapter finished on one of those others I mentioned. Again... I know I suck, lololol. But, all in good time, my darlings, all in good time you'll get your updates.