This is the one fandom that I swore I would never dabble in.
So here's a Christmas fic that really isn't a Christmas fic. Sorry that it's out of season.
A Christmas Tale from Konoha Corp.
Sakura stared at the number on her cell and tried not to panic. The phone's backlight was blue on her skin in the darkened office. The individual numbers almost seemed to blur together, making the steadily blinking number seem a jumbled mess. The light on the phone actually hurt and she had to blink several times to fight against the stinging pain at the corner of her eyes. She really wasn't all that sure what it was that caused her eyes to sting, even as tears rolled down her cheeks. She wasn't sure if they were tears of exhaustion or they were the result of some emotion that she was refusing to allow herself to acknowledge.
Pressing the 'end' button, Sakura leaned back in her chair and threw her cell phone. She didn't even flinch at the resound smash as the battery cover dislodged. She hoped it was broken. Beyond any and all repair.
She hated that bastard so much.
She closed her eyes and let her pink hair cascade forward to cover her eyes. If she turned her head just a little bit and opened her eyes she would see the flickering red and green lights that decorated the glass wall that exposed her office to the rest of the hospital. It wasn't the first time that she cursed her shishou's eccentric nature, but she was hidden far enough in the shadows so unless someone went out of their way to search they wouldn't find her.
If she was ninja born then she might have been able to erect a complicated sort of genjutsu to ensure her privacy.
The soft sound of the hospital's children choir singing Christmas carols would have been soothing if it wasn't for the fact that she hated this holiday almost as much as she hated that bastard. Her brow furrowed as she thought what repercussions ignoring him would bring. Maybe it was the solid, almost comforting knowledge that there were large amounts of trained, lethal fighters in the next building and that many of the medics were trained fighters in their own rights, but she couldn't shake off the feeling of security. The normal shiver of fear that usually gripped her whenever he tried to contact her—despite the many times that she said no, no, no!—was absent and she really wished that there was another place that she could go to where she would feel just as safe. A place where she would be able to find that elusive silence.
Even if it would suffocate her until—
His voice was so sudden, so unexpected that she couldn't help but jerk upright in her chair as her eyes shot open, scarcely able to prevent herself from overbalancing. Her fingers gripped the arm rest tightly, her body rigid as she half expected it to tip back. Only when she was completely certain that no movement on her part would upset the chair further did she look over at the man who stood in the door to her office.
She could make out his profile: his casual stance, the way his hair almost seemed to be going in two different directions at once, and the glass of bubbly in his hand. Sakura couldn't stop herself from frowning at this. It was highly unusual for him to consume something that contained even trace amounts of alcohol. Uchiha Sasuke was every bit as rigid as his brother, and she was thankful that she was one of the select few that he allowed to see past his frosty demeanor.
She wondered, if he had the sharingan activated whether his eyes would have glowed in the semi-darkness.
"Sakura." His voice was a little more impatient now and there was an edge to his voice that had her narrowing her eyes. Surely, Sasuke wasn't trying to give her an order was he?
She was not going to get up and walk over to him no matter how much he asked and begged. Even if it wasn't as silent as she needed it to be, and even though she was much too close to that toxic Christmas Spirit—really it fairly reeked of the stuff—she was perfectly happy where she was, thank you very much.
Decision made, Sakura settled back into her chair and watched him. Her green eyes were narrowed, but she knew that he could probably see her expression.
"What do you want Sasuke?" She was very pleased with the way her voice seemed to carry just the necessary amount of bite a girl needed to use in order to scare off annoying males, and she had been sorely tempted to call him "Uchiha-san". He hated Uchiha-san. She knew that there had been so many times when he felt as if people were mocking him, as if they were comparing him to his brother. Well, she was still mad at him and it would certainly serve him right.
She would have been lying if she had said that she wasn't a bit disappointed when he didn't flinch at her tone. Hell, he wasn't even responding! What the hell was wrong with him? He just continued to watch her with those dark eyes, and she half wished that he would turn her light on. Then a slight vibrating sound came from a corner of the room and she was reminded why she had engulfed the room in darkness in the first place. Sasuke turned his head in the direction that her half broken cell phone was vibrating from.
He let out a sigh as he walked over there. "What are you doing in here like this Sakura?" He didn't even look at her as he talked. "Ino and the dobe won't stop asking me what it was that I did so I would appreciate it if you would go out there and tell them that I haven't done anything."
No, of course, you wouldn't think of it as anything. After all, you're male.
He stopped at the corner of her office, just next to where she kept a small bookcase that stored all of her non-medical books for use when she was on break or when the glare from her computer made her eyes start to blur.
"What did you do to your cell phone?"
There was something about his voice that sounded almost accusing. Again, she was rather thankful that it was too dark for him to really see her. If the light had been on, Sasuke wouldn't have missed that brief look of fear that she knew had crossed her face at the reminder.
Masato Honda, heir to the Honda zaibatsu fortune, was most likely one of the most eligible men in all of Japan. As much as she hated him even Sakura could admit that, superficially, he had all of the qualities that a girl could want in a husband. His only fault was that all of those qualities were skin deep. He was rich and handsome. He only needed to quirk his lips up into the slightest twitch to make women melt. Whoever married him would be able to have nearly her every desire granted.
As long as she did exactly what he said and no more.
Sakura would be damned if she ever let herself become that woman. She had actually been doing a rather good job at forgetting about Masato-kun, but then—of course—Uchiha Sasuke had to go and rub his perfectly straight nose where it really wasn't wanted.
"Why do you care?"
Okay, maybe she was being a little unfair to him, but he was really the only person who knew anything about Masato-kun. He had been there when the Honda heir had followed her to her apartment after she had moved into the complex that was owned by Konoha Corp. He had been the only thing that had kept her steady that day, and he was the only one who really knew that she had her own personal stalker.
Regardless of how mad she was with him at the moment, she really didn't want him to know that she was depressed and scared again because finally, after a month of no contact, he had started following her again.
She was just thankful that he never had a chance to hear any of the voice messages that Masato-kun had left for her and that their confrontation had been very brief...
…and it only just occurred to her now that he would be able to see what the number was if he flipped open the cell phone he now held in his hand.
She couldn't breathe, she really couldn't. She didn't want him to worry about something that wasn't any of his business. It didn't matter that when she was in her apartment alone at night there were times when she woke up in a cold sweat and had a panic attack. He just couldn't, couldn't—
"It looks like you're going to have to buy a new phone, Sakura." Sasuke turned his head in her direction but she wasn't really certain if he could see her. "The LED screen is broken."
Sakura sent a small prayer of thanks to any and all deities in existence.
"Come on, Sakura. Everyone's waiting for you."
While she hardly doubted that everyone was waiting for her—after all she only knew a handful of the ninja that served under Konoha Corp., it was purely circumstantial that all of the ones that she did know were of the elite—Sakura was hardly appreciative when Sasuke reached out and flicked on one of the light switches that turned on the overhead light that she hardly ever used because it was so damn bright.
When she was finally able to stop blinking away the spots that danced in front of her eyes, Sasuke was standing in front of her, smirking.
"That's what you get," he said, "for sitting in the dark for so long."
She could only stare at him and wonder if there wasn't some hidden meaning to his words.
"How long are you just going to sit there?"
For a brief moment she thought that he was going to offer her a hand and help her stand up, and was a little surprised when none was forthcoming. She looked up at him with a scowl. This was probably the reason why things felt so tense between them, even though she could have been the only one who felt that way.
Maybe after the first incident with Masato-kun she had started to expect too much. Damn him for making her feel special.
Before she could respond and tell him rather pointedly where he could go shove it, the antique desk phone (it looked like it belonged in some '40s drama) gave a rather shrill ring. Sakura could only stare at it as all of the blood drained from her face. Her number at the hospital was unlisted! He couldn't have possibly have gotten her number could he?
Despite her rising trepidation, she rolled her chair over to her desk as the phone continued to ring, her eyes trained on the blinking light that indicated what line he was calling in on.
It was the internal hospital line.
That familiar trapped feeling was back with a vengeance, and it was only through will power alone that she was able to think past her rising panic and pick up the phone. She didn't bother saying hello and refused to look at Sasuke. Instead Sakura bent her head forward and let her long pink locks cover her face again. She couldn't let him know who was on the other line.
"Hello, Sakura-chan. Aren't you going to greet me? Don't you know that its bad manners not say hello. I thought Imonoyama-san taught you better manners than that."
Her father, Imonoyama, had never taught her anything. He had just abandoned her and her mother on the streets because it was convenient. It didn't matter that the head of the Imonoyama zaibatsu had disowned him. He had merely established a branch family line, and was still treated as if he was the same rank as her elder cousin, Nokoru. Nokoru who, even though he was the youngest grandson, would head the family when their grandmother passed away.
"Now, Sakura-chan, I thought we talked about this. You can't be disrespectful towards your father simply because of your mother's mistake. That's really not fair to Imonoyama-san. Remember if it wasn't for him we never would have met. I know that I am thankful each day of the time I get to spend with you Sakura-chan."
Sakura wasn't really aware of anything going on around her. She had practically forgotten about Sasuke's presence as Masato-kun continued to drip words of poisoned honey in her ear. She didn't even notice how her hand was almost starting to hurt with the way she gripped the phone receiver. She certainly didn't notice the way that her body was fairly shaking with fine tremors as the suffocating, horrible feeling that she tried to deal with each night clung to her.
Sasuke watched her, his eyes narrowed, as he took in the way she hid herself from him as she continued to listen to the voice on the other line not uttering a word.
"Do you know how hurt I am, Sakura-chan? We're engaged and yet here you are, all alone in your office after hours with a man I don't know. Who is he Sakura-chan? Do you fuck him? Do you let him touch you?"
Sakura swallowed thickly when Masato-kun's voice tsked.
"You shouldn't do that, Sakura-chan. Do you want to end up like your mother, like Ruriko-san? If you let him touch you don't you know that you will have the same problem? Don't you know that other men won't want to touch you? Don't worry though. I'll always love you. Just be a good girl for me. I don't want to have to hurt you."
There was a sound, footsteps across the floor, and Sakura was reminded of just what it was that she was trying to do. Biting the inside of her cheek, she fought against the tears that stung at the corners of her eyes and threatened to spill over. She hated this. She hated this feeling of utter helplessness that threatened her each time she spoke to or saw him.
She hated feeling so damn weak.
"Don't forget, Sakura-chan. When you go home there will be a nice present waiting for you. It is Christmas after all. I hope that you will give me something that is—"
Just as quickly, the words that she was trying so desperately to ignore were cut off as Sasuke gently extracted the phone from her vicelike grip.
"Let go Sakura." He murmured gently, and as if they were a direct order and she a trained soldier, the young civilian medic released the receiver. Her green eyes went wide as she looked up and watched Sasuke raise the phone to his ear. His eyes were no longer the intense obsidian that she was used to, but had bled into the bloody crimson with the sharingan tomoe. For a half moment she had an impulse to flick the light switch off and see if his eyes really did glow in the dark as they were rumored to.
The hardness in his eyes and tight lipped way that his mouth was pressed gave her a little bit of comfort, even though she recognized it as the fury that she rarely witnessed. It was odd. Sasuke was well known for his rather explosive temper, but for all of the times that she had witnessed she was never afraid of it. If anything it seemed childish. He didn't scare her the way that Masato-kun did. His fury was almost…comforting.
"Who the hell is this?" Sasuke's voice nearly shook with his nearly uncontrolled rage and pale, almost fair, skin darkened when the voice on the other end started speaking. His eyes narrowed down to pinpricks, awash in crimson, but he moved closer to Sakura, placing a hand on her shoulder. His fingers gently massaged her suddenly tense muscle and played with the unruly ends of her hair. She couldn't stop herself from letting her eyes drift close or from leaning into his touch.
She couldn't help the sigh that escaped her as his expert fingers kneaded at one particularly painful knot. It wasn't particularly difficult to concentrate on the press of his fingers rather than the dark fury in his voice. Actually… Sakura opened her eyes and tried to concentrate on his words.
She really couldn't understand a single word that he was saying.
A sound that shook the building, and caused many shrieks to come from the room where the celebrations were being held had her nearly bolting upright in her chair. Only Sasuke's firm, but gentle grip on her shoulder kept her from bolting up. She looked up at him in surprise, but he was already shifting away from her to place the phone in its cradle. He didn't look at her for a long time. Instead his eyes were searching outside the window that exposed her office to the night sky, as if he was searching for something that only he could see.
It wasn't until he seemed to be satisfied with what ever it was that he was looking for that he returned his attention to her, his expression smug.
"So you finally said my name…and this time with no kun."
Sakura's face promptly turned three different shades of crimson. She turned her head away from him, glaring stubbornly at the large, mahogany bookcase that held all of her medic texts and chakra scrolls. She just knew that if she tried to say anything that she would only be fighting the urge to hit him.
Of course, she'd lose because Sasuke was a trained shinobi, and too damn fast.
It was just another thing that she could add to her list as to just why exactly it was that she hated her father.
There was a thick cadence to his tone that caused something to stir in the pit of her belly, and her mouth was suddenly very dry. She really hated it when he did that.
Clenching her teeth so that her jaw was set into that stubborn way that very clearly told anyone who tried otherwise that she was not going to bend, Sakura turned her head towards him.
His sharingan gleamed hotly for a moment before fading back to his obsidian black. Sakura actually wasn't sure which she preferred, because even without the gleaming red his eyes still burned with an intensity that, regretfully, she could not say that she was comfortable with. Maybe it was because, despite the fact that she knew how different he was, she couldn't help but reminded of that one time. The first time that she had ever been introduced to Masato-kun.
Then Sasuke reached out and brushed aside a wispy, pink curl that had fallen down and across her nose. Her stomach fluttered at the way he pushed it back and she almost forgot to breath when he tucked it behind her ear.
Sakura bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from leaning into his touch—because, really, did he think she was that easy?—but something in her iced over and she got a little light headed when he curled a lock of hair around his finger.
He wasn't watching her any more, just fascinated by the softness and shade of her hair. If he had been watching her he might have stopped.
It was like Masato-kun was on the phone again and she was listening to him whisper those poisonous words.
Sasuke didn't know, he couldn't possibly know everything that the Honda heir had done to her. All he knew was that Honda Masato was a man that her estranged father had decided she would marry even though she was more than old enough to make her own decisions about such matters. Even Tsunade-shishou didn't know about the time when she was seventeen and a drug had been slipped into her wine. The absolute terror as Masato played with the curls her hair had been done up in, how he undid the laces of her corset…
Even now, seven years later, the memory still made it difficult to breathe. What she hated the most was that she couldn't remember what happened afterward. He had been unable to rape her, but she had never found out why.
So it was really not of her own volition when she choked out the words, begging him to stop.
He must have heard something in her voice that she was unaware of. The hand in her hair suddenly went limp and the concern that she saw in his face made her heart ache.
"Sakura?" Almost hesitantly, as if he was afraid to scare her, Sasuke carefully disentangled his hand from her hair. His hand cupped her cheek, and she was only aware that she was crying when he brushed a tear away with his thumb. Ever so gently, he gripped her upper arm with his free hand and pulled her up. It was only when her cheek was pressed comfortably against the solidness of his chest that she started to shake.
Sniffling, she tried to fight back the tears that almost seemed to be falling in a torrent. She felt dizzy, and Sakura knew that she would have a panic attack soon if she couldn't get a hold of her self. It was so strange. Although Masato-kun's voice scared her, this time it hadn't been enough to shock her into another episode. Maybe it had been the fact that Sasuke had been a firm presence next to her, but that did nothing to explain why she was now crying slightly into his shirt, her entire form shaking. She hated the way her tears fell even faster when his arms wrapped around her securely, and the way she pressed into his warmth. Sakura bit her lip in an attempt to reign some sort of control over her emotions. She certainly didn't want him to know, she didn't want him to ask and if she carried on this manner he certainly would. When he cared enough to be, Sasuke could be just as stubborn as she was.
She wondered if he knew why she was so angry with him, if he would still be holding her tight if he did.
Regardless of how gifted a ninja her ancestor may have been, no matter how gifted he had been in the precise art of chakra control, she wasn't him. What control she could use, her skills as a medic were all a result of a stranger seeing potential and taking in a woman with ties to the imperial line and showing her that there were more paths for her than marriage. Yet, for all of the kindness that Tsunade had shown her, none of that would ever make Sakura a ninja. She would never understand what it was like to stare Death in the face and slam against it with all one's might.
Because of that there would always be a wall between her and Sasuke.
He was similar to the rest of his family in that way. He just was unable to understand that she had her own stresses. Just as sometimes the deaths of comrades who died under his watch haunted his dreams, Sakura had her own demons. The patients that she lost and the man who would not let her be. Over the past month the youngest Uchiha seemed to understand it a little bit more and he was certainly more understanding but….
Uchiha Sasuke was still an insensitive ass!
Sakura blinked twice. With that single thought that was accompanied by more than a little bit of rage, her turbulent emotions seemed to dissipate. Staring at the black shirt that she was leaning against, she blinked once more to assure herself that she was indeed done crying. Her eyelashes had been dampened by her tears and it stung where her lashes stuck to her eye. Reaching up a hand she pulled slightly away from Sasuke and started to rub at the corner of her eye. Her vision blurred for a moment, but when she was finally able to blink the stray lash out of her eye, the only thing she could really see was his concerned face.
She breathed a heavy sigh. How was she going to explain all of this without revealing too much? How she had reacted during the phone call would be simple enough to explain. After all, taking all that Sasuke currently knew about Masato-kun into consideration it would not be that unreasonable for her to appear terrified.
It was explaining how she had acted afterwards that was going to be difficult.
She had no intention of telling him that the feel of someone playing with her hair brought back such awful memories. He probably wouldn't have believed her, anyways. Biting the inside of her cheek again—she was probably going to end up chewing it raw one of these days—she looked squarely at him when his jaw got into that stubborn set that she was all too familiar with.
He had no intention of letting her out of her own office until he received an answer that he was satisfied with.
Well, then he was going to be waiting for quite a long time.
"What?" She snapped, taking care to put just the right amount of bite into her tone. The best thing to do in this situation was to try and throw Sasuke off his guard. A finely honed temper, or at least one that seemed that way, would be just the thing. If he was anything like the typical male (and experience had already given her proof that he was) then he would just brush her sudden change in demeanor as her being female and unreasonable.
Something dark glittered in the back of his eyes and for a moment Sakura's heart skipped a beat. Then whatever it was that she thought she saw was covered in a mask of concern. He stepped closer to her, almost too close, and once again his face was the only thing that filled her field of vision. If she was the religious type she would have gladly cursed him to the seven levels of hell for looking at her like that.
There was a rustle of clothing and her green eyes darted to the hand that seemed to brush her cheek. Holding her breath she could only hope that he would not, under no absolute circumstances, try to entangle his fingers in her hair again.
"I wish you had told me that he was back." He murmured softly, the tips of his finger a scant half an inch away from her skin. Her cheeks flamed red as she resisted the urge to lean into his touch. "You haven't been sleeping well for the past month, have you?"
There was a calculating look in his eyes, even as he continued to look at her in concern and Sakura could only wonder at the thoughts that were going through his head. At that moment more than any other, she was absolutely sure, she wanted to know just what it was that he was thinking.
"How did you know?"
"Kakashi-sensei was overseeing an interrogation that was taking place in the hospital when you collapsed from exhaustion—"
Not for the first time Sakura had an intense urge to strangle that porn reading ninja who refused to take his mask off, even when he needed to for yearly checkups.
"—and Hokage-sama had mentioned that you had been acting almost skittishly lately. Especially when you work the night shift."
Sakura would have liked to direct a death wish to her teacher and almost regretted how much she owed the woman.
Of course, then that small voice that never seemed to know when to shut up wondered if Sasuke did indeed know how much sleep she had been losing since Masato-kun's return why the hell didn't he help her?! So he would be added to her list too, if he wasn't already on it.
If she wasn't so determined to hide the exact extent of her history with the Honda heir then Sakura would have very much agreed with her inner voice.
It certainly didn't help that he had managed to make her feel extremely guilty about it all.
"I'm sorry." The apology tumbled out of her mouth before she even thought to censure herself.
"You're not the one who should be apologizing," he muttered, "I should have paid more attention to you instead of saying what I did."
His hand was now cupping her cheek once more, but despite all of this Sakura could only stare at him wide eyed. She could vividly recall the one thing that Ino had cautioned her about when she had started seeing Sasuke. It had been a warning not to expect too much, especially if they had started sleeping together. Men in the ninja profession, especially those who were born into the special clans gifted with a blood limit, did not apologize. It just simply wasn't done.
Vaguely, she wondered if this was all a dream and that she was actually back in her father's estate being drugged by his strange looking secretary. It would certainly prove to be a more certifiable explanation as to just why the hell Uchiha Sasuke was apologizing to her. Apologizing to a civilian.
Before she could properly form two words to demand just who the hell he really was and exactly what it was that he had done with the real Sasuke (if this was one of Naruto's kage bushins she was going to kill him) when he did the very thing that she had been dreading. His hand moved up the curve of her cheek, the pads of his fingers lightly tracing the ridge of her ear in a manner that caused her to shiver, before they tangled deep enough into her hair that he was touching her scalp.
Even though she told herself that it was just Sasuke and he was just trying to apologize and comfort her in his own way and that he was most definitely not going to hurt her Sakura suddenly found it very difficult to breathe.
No, no, no—don't do—stop, please—
She was only dimly aware of him the way his eyes widened in shock and that he was shouting her name. Suddenly something solid was wrapping around her waist once more, but unlike last time it did nothing to help center her. Spots danced before as the darkness edged at the corner of her vision.
A terrifying sensation of falling was the last thing that she was aware of.
Even though past experience had taught Sasuke that shouting Sakura's name as she fainted was probably not the most intelligent thing that he could have done, he really didn't have time to worry about that. He hadn't meant to scare her. Even given everything he knew about her relationship with that Honda bastard there had been something about her reaction when he had been unable to resist the urge to play with that stray lock of hair that was unnatural. He had dismissed it, for a moment, as maybe a result of that disturbing phone call he had put an abrupt end to, but even his own explanation for her reaction hadn't felt quite right. That's why after he had apologized (it had surprised him with how easily she had accepted it, it had taken many practices with Naruto and in front of the mirror to get it right and it had still sounded false) he had repeated his earlier action.
He gathered Sakura's limp body in his arms and cursed her for not having a couch of some sort for him to lay her out on. This meant he was going to have to (ugh) get help.
Of course, as his dismal luck would have it, he didn't need to go far before he nearly crashed into Naruto.
The blue-eyed jounin took one look at the limp figure in Sasuke's arms before turning his accusing eyes to the supposed culprit.
"Teme, what the hell did you do to Sakura-chan!?"
"So this is all your fault then."
Sakura couldn't quite place the voice, even though the clipped tone was extremely familiar. She could almost picture the person that it belonged to, and she knew the name. It was just at the tip of her tongue…
The only response that came was a very familiar snort, and she knew what this was. Even though the owner of that snort irritated her and warmed her heart at the same time, she couldn't, like with the first speaker, place his looks or his voice.
She honestly didn't know which she would have preferred to do. Did she want to kill someone or curse and torture the person who was responsible for her being susceptible to seizures? A rather sharp pain pounded at her temples and Sakura couldn't stop the moan of pain.
"She's waking up. Give her some space."
A rather sharp retort in response to the obviousness of those words was just waiting on the tip of her tongue, and even though she knew the speaker (whose name she still couldn't remember) would not tolerate it, Sakura was annoyed enough that this had happened again to simply not care.
She wanted to scream when she opened her mouth and a sound that was no more than a squeak was forth coming. Gods, it had been so long since she had last had a seizure.
She could remember quite vividly the first time that she had suffered a seizure. She had been twelve, and a creepy man with an affinity for snakes had constantly injected her with a drug that made her nerves burn. His former teammates had been the ones to save her, and it shortly after that she had underwent her training to become a medic.
It was really frustrating, being able to remember all of this and yet not being able to put names to the faces.
It had been the first time she had learned to use chakra. It had been on the eve of her fourteenth birthday, and her first attempt had her nerves burning with fire and her world to sway and dip. Then she had woken up with her head fuzzy and pounding, a bruise just above her left eye, and for a brief moment she had been unable to even remember her name.
It was very similar to how things felt now.
Her eyes felt slightly crusted, and she reached up to wipe it away.
A young woman with long blonde hair sat at her left and it was only then that Sakura realized that she was in one of the exam rooms. Her sensei was on the other side and next to her was the man who made her heart warm. She was starting to get highly irritated in a way that had very little to do with her headache. Why couldn't she remember their names?
She tried to sit up and a blonde male with slightly spiked hair, was pressing a hand to her shoulder and preventing her from getting up.
Annoying. Her brain automatically supplied when she fought against the hand holding her down. It was only when the one with the dark eyes that made her melt (lover) put a hand out to stop her that she stopped fighting. She didn't bother to hide how annoyed she was.
The four pairs of eyes watched her, as if each was searching for some indication of further injury, even though only the women in the room would be the ones with the ability to do so.
The blonde woman to her left, the one whose name she could still not quite place (she knew it! She knew she did!) looked at Sakura a bit worriedly.
"How are you feeling, Forehead? Do you know who I am?"
A flash of irritation crept up on her and even though she couldn't quite grasp the woman's name she knew…
"Pig." She muttered with a groan, and the pounding in her head violently protested against the little movement that was required to speak. Whimpering, Sakura curled up into a ball as best as she could on the exam bed, and buried her head into her pillow. "Ino." Well, at least she remembered her name.
Naruto, Tsunade-shishou, and Sasuke…
Strong fingers were suddenly in her hair, but he was only lightly touching it. Not playing with it.
The dizziness didn't return, and as long as he didn't try and play with her hair again and she didn't receive any creepy phone calls she might actually be able to sleep easy tonight. As soon as the thought entered her mind, Sakura remembered one reason why she would have to worry tonight. Why even now she could hear the singing—those horrible, horrible songs—and she cursed Sasuke in so many different ways. Thrice cursed him.
She really hated Christmas.
Her office (despite the fact that Masato-kun had known what was going on—she still couldn't stop the shiver of fear that raced down her spine) had been the best place to hide from the festivities. Her office, although large and with a lovely view, was tucked into a corner that was far enough out of the way that most of the time it was ignored. It had been a perfect plan, but then someone had just had to get nosey and come intrude upon her privacy.
Although it had been worth it to hear him apologize (and she really wanted to know just what exactly it was that he had done to Masato-kun, because by the satisfied look on his face he had to have done something) he had completely ruined it by playing with her hair.
Sakura didn't completely understand why some men seemed to have such an obsession with it anyway.
His fingers trailed down to her forehead and it was only when he spoke that she realized that the others had left the room without saying a word.
Which was actually quite thoughtful.
"How are you feeling?"
Turning her head Sakura regarded the man that she wished she could call her lover. As it was now she wasn't quite sure just what it was they were. It was complicated, most likely, he had his own issues what with the death and gore that were a part of his daily life and she had her secret scars. She knew, with an absolute certainty, that she would most likely never get into a normal relationship. That she was nearing her mid twenties and had never been kissed by someone that she wanted to kiss her was proof of that. Maybe that was part of the reason why she could never quite leave Sasuke alone.
"I've felt better." She grimaced. It actually wasn't quite true. She was only feeling a little muggy now. In fact she was pretty sure that she could get off of the bed without swaying on her feet. Even if her head was pounding quite a bit, she certainly felt better than she had the last time that she suffered through one of these attacks, but if she played the woozy card then it was very likely that she would be able to escape without having to deal with too much 'Christmas Cheer'.
"You look pale." He agreed, and she had to bite her lip from commenting. The way his thumb brushed across her forehead sent butterflies dancing in her stomach, and the look in his eyes certainly wasn't helping. He seemed to be debating something.
The tone of the music changed and it made Sakura wince. The soft harmony of the children's choir was gone. No doubt they had been herded back to the children's ward to go to bed. Even though she found any Christmas music annoying, there was something about the soft cadence of a choir with good singers that she enjoyed. Maybe it was because it was so simple for them to lose themselves in the softness of the music.
Well, that softness was gone now to be replaced by drunk, hyperactive ninja and medics singly loudly off key. It certainly wasn't helping the pounding in her head any.
"You need to at least say hi," He muttered as if it was nothing more than an afterthought. "Naruto won't settle for anything less."
She winced at that. Even when compared to Rock Lee, Naruto was the most hyperactive person that she had ever met. With him being the way it was it was probably going to be difficult enough to survive the night by keeping the Christmas interaction down to a minimum.
Sasuke raked a hand through his unruly locks, his eyes never leaving hers. He muttered something, and she was sure that even Tsunade would have bet his remark would have had something to do about women. She kept her lips pressed tight though, she had said more than a few things about the insensitivity and obliviousness of the three legged gender , and she owed him silence for that at least.
"Come on." He muttered, sounding more than just a bit disgruntled. He held out his arm in a manner that she was quite familiar with, but her skin didn't crawl when she placed her hand on the crook of his arm. He helped her off of the examination table with a tenderness that she couldn't make sense of, his other hand firmly on the curve of her hip in a manner that made butterflies dance in her chest. She refused to blush and it was when her feet touched the floor that she was extremely grateful for his nearness.
For a moment, just a moment, her world spun and it was only his reassuring grip that kept her from falling flat on her butt. Closing her eyes tightly, she took deep breaths until her world righted itself again. Only when she was quite certain that she would be able to walk without falling did she open her eyes and look at him. His obsidian eyes were dark with concern and something she really wasn't in the right frame of mind to identify, even though—a little voice hissed in the back of her head—you know exactly what that is.
No, she really didn't.
"I'm fine. It just takes a little getting use to." Actually considering with how long it had been since her last seizure had been it took more than just a little getting used to.
Gods, she hoped she didn't have to see that thrice damned, four eyed bastard any time in the near future.
"We'll make it short." He said firmly, and the next thing Sakura knew the hand on her hip had moved downwards and she was suddenly in his arms.
Which was actually quite nice.
She couldn't remember the last time she had been so happy to step off that elevator. (Although actually, since Sasuke was still carrying her, he was the one who did the stepping off.) She could still hear the badly sung Christmas carols (she never would have guessed that ninjas—Naruto excluded, of course—had such strong vocal cords) and she wanted nothing more then to get into Sasuke's damn apartment so that she wouldn't have to listen to it anymore. In fact, she could have quite cheerfully slugged the bastard for the agonizing slowness in his steps.
Most likely he was probably doing it just to piss her off.
If she hadn't already had her arms wrapped around his neck to keep herself upright then she would have gladly done so when he had finally managed to convince a rather drunk and surprisingly volatile Rock Lee (although she had been the only person who had seemed to be surprised, everyone else had seemed…resigned) to let them take the elevator to the apartment complex. Maybe it had been a little cruel of her to pretend that the after effects of the seizure were more serious then they actually were, but she simply didn't have too many fond memories of Christmas parties and had not been in the mood to create any new ones.
Well, she would have been quite happy to spend the remainder of the night in her office, but Sasuke had effectively ruined that, and suffering through the knowing leers of certain individuals in silence while murmuring out softly spoken 'season's greetings' and 'merry Christmas's' it had been all that she could do to not react violently to those leers.
Biting her lip, Sakura waited as patiently as was possible for her on this night, resting her head against Sasuke's chest as he struggled to get his key into the apartment lock. Personally, she didn't understand why he even bothered. He was adept enough so that the only person who could actually get through all of the traps that he had set around his apartment was his brother, and that was simply because Itachi was annoying in that respect. It certainly didn't make sense for him to lock his door when it would do nothing to stop the people who really wanted to get in and make his life absolutely miserable.
Still, it wasn't really any of her business so despite the curiosity she kept her mouth shut as Sasuke ushered them over the threshold.
He didn't bother to lock the door, instead choosing to kick it closed, and the green eyed medic couldn't help but wonder if this was what it was like after one got married and was being carried into a honeymoon suite. Keeping her cheek pressed against his chest Sakura decided not to worry about stumbling into wherever the hell she was going to sleep tonight and would just let him decide.
Not that there were that many option, the cheap bastard didn't even own a proper couch. Just a couple of folding chairs. Which she really didn't get. After all, because he was second in line to the Uchiha clan he could certainly afford a little more than that.
Not that he would let her sleep on the floor.
She frowned at that. Sasuke certainly wasn't the type of person to give up the comfort of his wonderful tempurpedic bed, feather pillows, and silken sheets (really his bed was probably one of the few luxurious things about his apartment) for a cold floor even if it was the chivalrous thing to do. Sakura wouldn't have wanted him to do that anyway. It made her uneasy. She had too many bad Christmas memories, and she could only pray that the taint of those memories wouldn't interfere with what was, in all actuality, a very sweet gesture.
So she was hardly surprised when she was deposited on his cold bed—that was probably one of the few down sides about tempurpedic mattresses—the silk sheets (she couldn't help but raise her eye at him at the burgundy-crimson shade of the sheets) were cool against her skin. That girlish side of her that she had never been able to quite subdue was reduced to a pile of goo, especially when he took the time to prop her head comfortably on a couple of pillows before pulling the sheet and coverlet over her. Instead of giving voice to what would have been some embarrassingly high pitched giggles, Sakura could only watch him, her eyes serious as she tried to figure out just what it was that he was thinking.
She always liked to think that she was fairly gifted in reading those silent messages. It helped her deal with her mother's delicate sensibilities, and helped her to find her place in the strange business of Konoha Corp, but Sasuke was probably one of the few that she actually couldn't. It certainly didn't help that he was looking down at her with all of the emotion of a stone. It made her nervous.
Then the terse silence was broken with a sigh and he racked a hand in those wild, black locks that she itched to comb with her fingers. The next thing she knew he was in bed next to her, pulling the sheets and coverlet over them as he pulled her close. To her relief, she felt none of the quickening breath that signified a panic attack, instead butterflies fluttered in her stomach as he wrapped an arm around her and held her close.
"When are you going to tell me, Sakura?" His words were muffled as he spoke into her hair and she knew he wasn't expecting an answer.
It was just as well for she had none to give him.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this fic. This one shot is actually a side story to a multi chapter story that I'm working on, called Konoha Corp. I also have a series of one shots related to Konoha Corp. as well that I'll be posting soon.
Feedback is much appreciated!