Argh, what the hell, Sara? Why has this turned into another series?! And it's a morbid series, at that… And I was so totally watching hours of House while I wrote this. And, um… I haven't… exactly… slept…
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Dedication: To my Eleni, because she is epictacular and fantabulistical. I don't care if these words are not words. They are NOW.
P.S. "I'm amazing, so I must keep a microphone on me at all times!" … "If? If is good."
Sakura has spent her entire life (reach-reach-reaching) stretching for things she can not attain. It is almost pitiful, she thinks.
Almost, almost, never all the way (just like you, reach-reach-reaching for Sasuke and Naruto and Kakashi and-) there (there? There, there, pitiful girl-child, say the voices that always whisper in the night).
Almost, just like how she almost surpasses Tsunade. Almost, just like how she almost forces Sasuke into submission. Almost. Never all the way.
Sakura hates the word 'almost' because it implies that she is never going to- to- to be good enough, to be strong enough, to be the sun shining in the sky, so bright (brilliant-brilliant-brilliant; you've always been brilliant, but no one cared enough to nurture that light-), a spark of intuition.
And Sakura is sort of like a spark, stretching thin over the world during, but weak, so weak, during the night.
Then she thinks, looking out a cold hospital window, that she and he and Naruto are night and day; Naruto, the bright sun, shining and sparkling and light; and he, the night, so dark and lonely and broken and empty-
And she, dawn, sitting in the middle, the bridge between them. A gap, a mistake, a not sure which way to go, a someone who isn't there. So who is she?
Where does she belong? Does she belong somewhere at all? Or is she just another lost life?
Sakura shakes the morbid thoughts away, and looks out the window again.
It is dawn, and she is reminded of herself. A glimmer, a sort-of hope, almost (there it is, the hated-hated-hated word-) a chance of redemption.
But of course, she thinks with a wry smile, the night and day are just so different (so different it almost hurts. Ah, but, there is that hated-hated-hated word again…-), that they will never be reconciled.
She sees it in the way Naruto's shoulders are slumped after yet another failed attempt. And she knows from the way Tsunade sits, so (tense-tense-tense) stiff, that this is one of the last times she will allow Naruto to leave to hunt for him.
Tsunade refuses to lose another child; Sakura knows she cares for Naruto the way she cared for Nawaki, the way she cares for Sakura herself.
And as much as Sakura wants … him back (are you really soafraid of saying his name? Sasuke-Sasuke-Sasuke, na-na-na-na-na-), she is not willing to lose Naruto for it. He is the center of her universe, and dawn can not exist without someone to bring it to light, can it?
But then, Sakura supposes, dawn can not just come from anywhere-
No, stop, Sakura, stop, she tells herself, and takes two, deep, calming breaths. She has lost so much already (a mother and a father and almost (laughter) a brother and definitely a someone to love-), and she cannot afford to lose anymore.
She thinks she may break if she loses much more (like when you were reach-reach-reaching for the cups as a child, and the chair slipped, and broken glass rained-rained-rained down around you-).
She has tried for so long, has become so strong; Sakura is no longer a third wheel, and this makes her proud. Perhaps she is still dawn, still growing, still changing, but there is almost (that word) always room to grow.
And because of this, she doesn't even look up from her desk when the first explosion rocks the hospital. The hospital is always being rocked by explosions - other nin training, usually.
So she doesn't even look up (you've kind of stopped reach-reach-reaching for the sky, haven't you?), not even to see the (brilliant-brilliant-brilliant) sun set.
She works until midnight, until she cannot see straight, until she can only stagger in the vaguely right direction, to the direction of the place she calls home. Going home is quiet (going home is always quiet. You're too strong to be stopped; you can split the earth in two, should you so choose), but Sakura is worried.
Ino and her team get back today. Sakura has never seen Ino so empty-eyed before, and it scares her. She almost wants to insist that her oldest friend go to the hospital, but Kiba steps in.
Sakura is (brilliant-brilliant-brilliant, so you study their situation like you would study a lab rat-) not stupid; she can see the way Kiba is staring at Ino, so concerned, so worried. And she can see that Ino might be able to love him, if given the chance. So, still so, so worried… She lets them go.
Ino is limping home, and Kiba is supporting her. Sakura is happy for them.
But Tenten looks worse then Ino does. Tenten is shaking, and covered in blood that belongs to someone else - Lee, in fact, and Sakura screams when she sees him.
Sakura is a medic; she knows he will not die. But she cannot help but hope to god he will be able to fight again. He deserves it more then anyone. He has worked as hard as she has. But- but- but he is in the intensive care ward. She supposes he will have a chance; after all, Tsunade hates losing nin.
So Sakura takes another deep breath, and unlocks the lock to her house. She waits, almost tiredly, for the lock to click, and when it does, she pushes the door open. It has been a long day, and she is exhausted.
She nearly falls into bed, her brain, her body, her soul is so exhausted that she can barely move. She lays face down in her pillow, and breathes (breathe, sweetie, if you don't breathe you'll die-).
Sakura listens to the silence of her own apartment, and wonders if there will ever be sound.
(What are you reach-reach-reaching for now?)
But she doesn't sleep. She is so (brilliant-brilliant-brilliant) tried, but she can not sleep. She has not slept really well in… in a very long time. Not since she -
But she dreams, sometimes (of reach-reach-reaching for Sasuke and almost touching him, your fingers outstretched and soclose-).
And when she does, it's almost like flying, and it hurts, because he was the person she loved the most.
And then she wakes up.
It is the next morning, and she doesn't remember the fact that she dreamt anything at all. She has always repressed bad memories (but they're not memories, they're dreams; not the things you remember, the things you forget - remember?), and Sakura really hates being wrong.
So she gets up (just like everyothermorning) after three hours of restless non-sleep, she grabs her lab coat (because there are people to save), and gets to the hospital four hours early.
No one else is there, and Sakura is (brilliant-brilliant-brilliant, and the quiet is almost painful… what are you looking for?) alone
Just like always.
Apparently, dawn can exist alone, without sun or moon to make it better.
And she sits and the (scritch-scritch-scritch) sound of pen on paper keeps her company, until Shizune comes in, yawning, and Sakura smiles. She is holds Lee's folder, and whispers "You should probably call Tenten and Neji; they'll want to see him."
Sakura nods, and goes to call her best friend, to tell her the news. Lee will be fine. But Sakura will not be, because -
And then another explosion rocks the hospital, and Sakura simply sighs. There it goes again.
Then there is screaming and blood, and Sakura is (reach-reach-reaching) on duty again. She is not worried, because she has saved lives for so long that it is second nature, now.
Sakura is a healer (a brilliant-brilliant-brilliant one, in fact).
But no healer expects to see the love of their life on a mattress, pale and bloodless. She stares for a minute, before the grim unconcern washes over her, and she doesn't think anymore. Naruto is here, too, pale and bloody, but awake and grinning, and Sakura can already hear Tsunade fussing.
But she is not concentrating on that.
She is concentrating on the dying boy in front of her, shoving chakra (your chakra, not any one else's, because nooneelse should be that close to him) into him as fast as she physically can.
If he dies, she will never forgive herself.
And so she works on him, and snarls at those who come near. Naruto is still too weak to be allowed out of his bed, and Sakura knows that she better make him better before Naruto is allowed out. If he's not at least whole before that happens, Naruto will pout and get sick and worry everyone around.
And when that happens it annoys Sakura.
So she works. She hasn't slept in almost twenty-four hours, but that does little to stop her. She is almost (a hated-hated-hated word) passing out from the exhaustion, but she is too strong for that.
Her eyelids are drooping when his finally, faintly open. She just half-smiles at him for a half-second (no energy left, no chakra left, no soul left-), and then she hits the floor. She barely sees him almost (god, how you hate that word) reach for her. Almost.
She doesn't remember much after that.
She wakes up in her own bed, barely an hour later. She is still wearing her work clothes, and not even close to recharged, but she has never been one for sleep (not since the nightmares started, anyways-), and so she forces herself up.
Her muscles tremble, and she quickly takes a morbid stock. So, she is over-exhausting herself, Ino is most likely is a case of rape, and Tenten has been cutting since as long as Sakura has known her.
She laughs weakly, and feels her arms tremble again. This is… so wrong. So wrong. They are not weak, so why is this just killing them all (what is killing them, anyway-)?
And then she collapses, because she's just so tired…
But Sakura has never been one to give up, and so she struggles up (and it feels like reach-reach-reaching for the sky), and she glares at her ceiling. She will be strong. She will.
She makes it to the hospital within the next ten minutes.
Tsunade snarls at her (just the way you snarled at everyone who came near Sasuke yesterday - or was it today? You can't remember anymore-) and tells her to "Get home now, Sakura. I sent you there for a reason. You passed out."
Sakura simply smiles, nods, and grabs the clipboard that her forever-teacher is holding. And then she dashes off to the second patient on the list, blatantly ignoring the blazing Uchiha Sasuke that is first, first, first name there.
She can not see him right now. Sakura is strong, but she is not strong enough for that.
She makes it through five patients before Shizune points out that he has been waiting for more then an hour, and that she had better get in there now. Sakura grimaces, and almost wants to plead. But she doesn't.
She gathers the courage she has left in her body, and enters Ward 134.
And he is just sitting there, like this is all a game, and for a moment, Sakura wants to (scream-scream-scream like you're falling off a balcony-) punch him. But she doesn't.
She knows she never will again. Another deep breath, a smile, and "Good morning, Uchiha-san."
"…Hn," he says, and she is twelve again, and trying to peel an apple for him to (you're reach-reach-reaching for that bloody acceptance again, idiot-) eat. She shakes her head, to herself, to him, to everything because she is not that girl anymore.
She still smiles, "How are you feeling?"
"Any side effects? Pain, anywhere?"
"'Hn' does not help me. I need answers, Uchiha-san."
"Because, if you don't give me the answers that I want, I may have to stuff you chock full of chakra again, and believe me, I can make it really, really hurt. So, please?"
She rolls her eyes, so exasperated (you're starting to get tired-tired-tired. Are we done with him yet? You don't really want to hurt anymore…). "Uchiha, you are annoying me. I am giving you literally three seconds to answer me. No more, no less. Is there pain?"
"No," he says again, and Sakura swears that if she punches him, she will blame the head trauma on his stupidity, not her fist.
But she will not say please again. She has asked twice, politely, and if he keeps this up, she will beat him over the head.
"Okay," she says. "That's it. I've had two hours sleep, I am chakra-depleted because I was saving your life, I have been here since three o'clock in the morning, as of yesterday; if you do not answer my questions, now, there will be hell to pay. Do you understand, Uchiha?"
He just stares at her, deadpan, and she hates him for a moment. She really, truly hates him, because, that's it, he's taken all she can give (you're reach-reach-reaching again for things you can't touch. It's pointless. Give up-).
There is a strange smirk on his lips, sort of broken, Sakura thinks. She doesn't want to deal with it right now, but-
"It was expecting too much, wasn't it?"
She purses her lips, and stares him down, her eyes narrowed. "What was expecting too much?"
"Never mind, Sakura," he says.
She takes a few more tests, a few more minutes, and, with a cold "It's 'Doctor Haruno', to you," she is out the door. She can feel the sobs in her throat (constricting and choking and stopping the air flow to your lungs - lungs keep you alive, you know-), and she has to get away now.
She leaves, with an impractical wave at Tsunade. She pretends she does not see the almost-satisfied smile on her teacher's lips.
She does not run; she has not run from something in a long time. That is like retreat, and retreat is weak. No, she is (brilliant-brilliant-brilliant, and even the best tacticians know that retreat is sometimes necessary- well, she is making a tactical retreat, weak or not. It does not matter.
She collapses on her bed for the second time in three days, and for the first time in a long time, she is too exhausted to dream.
The next time she sees him is the next day.
Somehow, he has escaped the hospital, and she has half a mind to crack his jaw open and throw him back where he belongs.
How he gets out of punishment is a mystery to her; it is also not something she wants to deal with. Can't she just hate him? Isn't that enough (of course it's not enough, if it was, you wouldn't be here-)?
He is almost beautiful. Almost. Not all the way there (it's still a hated-hated-hated word… But does that really change anything?).
She sighs, and unlocks the door for him. She is still in her pajamas, with messy hair and no make-up, and she wonders, almost amusedly, what he thinks of her. Then, she realizes that she doesn't care. He's not worth it, anyways.
She pulls him in the door, while putting her hair up with one hand. She doesn't remember where she learned how to do this, actually, and Uchiha seems transfixed.
"What are you looking at?" she asks. She is too tired of everything to play games.
"You," he says, as if this is the most obvious thing in the world.
"Well," she says, "Stop. I don't like it. Why are you even here?"
When he doesn't answer, her eyes narrow to slits (you've glared more in the past thirty-six hours then you have in a month… did you know that?).
"I gave you three seconds in the hospital. That's all I'm giving you now. The difference is, out here, I can inflict bodily harm on you, whether you like it or not."
He chuckles bitterly, dryly, and her heart stops.
"I came to… apologize." He forces the last word out through almost-clenched teeth.
She folds her arms (why aren't you reach-reach-reaching?! It's all you've ever done! Don't stop now!) over her chest, and says "I'm waiting."
His teeth are clenched, and Sakura knows, knows he will say nothing. Three seconds goes out the window, and together, they stand in awkward silence for almost a minute. Sakura's fists are as clenched as his teethe, and after another three seconds, she whirls, and heads for the door.
Just as the door is closing, she hears "I'm - I'm sorry. God, I'm so sorry Saku-"
But the door is already closed, and Sakura tells herself he will have to do better then that to gain her forgiveness (but, you do realize, that he's already go it, right? Of course you do, now you're just hurting yourself-).
The day passes quickly, after that, and by the end of the day, Sakura is tired. Tsunade sighs, hands her the last clipboard she has to work with, and then tells her to take a week off (but that's not reach-reach-reaching for the stars, and didn't you always get told to reach for the stars-).
Sakura doesn't even try to refuse, because she knows Tsunade will personally knock her out, and force her to sleep. It makes Sakura sick, but she is does as she is told.
She walks to Ward 211, pushes the door open, and sees Naruto.
Her whole face lights up when she sees Hinata, too. She thinks it is almost (gritted teeth at that hated-hated-hated word) about freakin' time. She flicks her eyes to the patient number, and frowns when she realizes she is not treating Naruto. She is treating-
God damn it, she is going to kill Tsunade for this. Uchiha Sasuke is sitting in the bed next to Naruto, almost-smirking, and Sakura tells herself this is a nightmare come true.
She warily approaches the bed, and tells him she needs to give his arm a shot. He holds it up wordlessly, and she turns her back to begin to prepare the needle. She can not face him.
She is not expecting his arms to wrap around her waist, and pull her down on the bed with him. She squeaks.
And then, for the first time in weeks, the know of tension in her stomach relaxes a little, and Sakura is (brilliant-brilliant-brilliant) almost calm.
She does not make a sound, because she can see Hinata slowly nodding in her peripheral vision, and Sakura is almost tempted to punch him.
But when he sighs softly into her hair, and the almost silent stream of apologies begins to run, she realizes that it may have to wait.
Sakura is (brilliant-brilliant-brilliant) reaching for stars. They are almost things she can't touch, but she figures…
At some point, the night, the sun, and dawn really do have to meet. And she guesses that now is the time.
So she smiles again, and closes her eyes.