Summary : The world of shinobi is thrown into calamity. Everyone has aligned themselves with either Konoha or Uchiha Madara. Those caught by the enemy are forced into mental enslavement. Tsunade sends Sakura to find a cure but on the way she ends up finding something else entirely. Sasu/Saku
Author Note: This is my newest baby. All I can say is that I was inspired by the song "Say When" by The Fray hence the title of this story. It's written really differently from my usual stuff but I love it, I hope you do too. Enjoy!
"It all began with the man and country. Every plan turns another century around again.
And another nation fallen.
Maybe god can be on both sides of the gun
never gone, understood why some of us never get it so good, so good.
Some of this was here before us, all of this will go after us. It never stops until we give in, give in, or say when."
Say When - The Fray
It seemed like just moments ago when a child could frolic freely in the road without fearing for their very souls. Now there were no streets. Just battlefields.
There were no more countries. No more Kages. No formal alliances - just two choices. Konohagakure or Uchiha Madara. Most people had abandoned their villages and since then became refugees. And most did not survive.
One of the last Uchiha - and arguably the most brilliant to ever have lived - was no longer plotting his revenge. He was living it. And as far as anyone knew Konoha was the only country to have retained freedom. But there were others hidden among the land who the Hokage had received radio contact from.
It had lasted for only a fleeting moment but it was enough to renew hope. There were others fighting beyond enemy lines. And that was all that mattered.
Madara's reign - although it had only been a year and some months - was known as the "Infection." Somehow, he had found a way to make his chakra potent enough to alter its natural form. That was how he had conquered by the millions so quickly. It was air borne thus it was virtually impossible to escape his reach.
And the infection was just the beginning. Once it entered through the pores, it spread throughout the tenketsu, locking each chakra gate. For hours the victim would suffer hallucinations and excessive torture. And once they reemerged from their nightmare - they were enslaved to him.
Did they die? Or did they survive and linger somewhere inside their own heads? No one knew, it was a complete medical phenomenon.
But there was a cure somewhere.
And Haruno Sakura was its seeker.
In the dusk of the sky, miniature rivers of perspiration dripped across my newly tanned skin, momentarily cooling off its feverish surface. From what seemed like every direction, right, left, near, and far, huge beams of heat shined down on every reachable quarter.
I was beyond tired.
I existed somewhere between death and dehydration, though I think I was closer to death. My feet could drag no more in the Suna sun yet I forced them to. Failure was not an option. At least for me. Not when I had the fate of the world resting - well not really resting, more like pushing - on my shoulders.
Sakura was what my parents had named me. But the Sakura blossoms were supposed to represent everything new, fresh, and pretty. And I didn't feel new and fresh - just uncomfortably hot and sweaty. I definitely did not feel pretty - draped in the same clothes that had been on my back for five days.
But I trudged on, nothing soothing my burning thirst. I wasn't even sure I had any saliva left in my mouth and it wouldn't be long before I would start to blister.
I just could not make sense of my situation. Tsunade sent me to find this so called cure. But if she had known where it was, why hadn't she simply sent someone more qualified and experienced, like Neji? Or why hadn't she sent a team? But she had simply shook her head and told me where I could find it.
"Where the sand shines pink…"
But there was no pink sand. Not by me at least. I had been roaming the desert for nearly a week and all I could see was white sand. Not pink. It was pretty clear to me that I was going to die here and no one would ever find my body.
But that was what I wanted. I would rather be scorched alive than lose my body to them. To Uchiha Madara and his followers. The thought of losing my body to someone else quite literally made me sick to my core. Besides I had too much inside my head to lose it to some psychotic tyrant.
That was why I was going to kill myself if I was ever captured. The small syringe that I had ready in one of my many pockets was going to see to that. But I was too careful to be caught.
I traveled at night, careful to only use the bare minimum of my chakra and even then I had to conceal that. But I was running low on supplies and I only had half a days worth of food in my pack and if I didn't find this cure fast - I was going to die out here. And I wasn't so careful today - I had started out on my journey once again right before twilight instead of waiting for nightfall.
Even though I couldn't afford to be caught - I also couldn't afford to waste time. It wasn't something I had the luxury of having nowadays.
Yet time wasted away as I persevered onwards through what felt like hot boiling soup. I pushed on and on until the muscles in the back of my legs started to burn and strain. I didn't have much left in me. I reached the exit of the once lively Suna which was nothing more than a broken down gate. All of the old inhabitants of this formerly hidden village had been received very warmly by Konoha when they had fled. Gaara, the Kazekage, was serving in the resistance there.
I bid farewell to the once grand village with a nod of my head and pressed onwards out into another desert. At least the village had offered some sort of shade with its somewhat tall abandoned buildings. But I was naked out here in the northeastern desert.
There was no open shade. Just the twilight intertwined sky, the ever fading sun, and myself. I had to lie to myself in order for my legs to keep moving. I had to lie and tell myself that there was something out there…waiting for me. The cure - and I didn't know what form it would take - was nestled somewhere in coral colored sand.
Because if I stopped now, I would never move again. For another hour I dragged my sandal covered feet into the hot wilderness. And for another hour, I slowly died.
I had to stop. It had to be now. I was too tired, too sleepy, too much of anything and everything. My throat felt like it had completely closed up. Swallowing was painful. Because I was a medic, I knew I was seriously dehydrated. And I had used all of my supplies…
Just then, the wind picked up. It alarmed me because it could have been enemy produced. I ran blindly, my legs suddenly filled with renewed strength. I thanked God for adrenaline and continued running. Sandstorms were the worse.
I had no idea where I was going though. I could have been running back towards Suna and wouldn't have known it. I needed to find shelter and fast. I watched as a little ground squirrel burrowed its way into some of the cracked earth and I stared at it enviously.
"Duh Haruno," I muttered to myself. I had been doing a lot of that these past days. It was sad that the sound of my own voice somehow provided me with a sense of security.
But I mimicked the squirrel and crashed my foot into the earth. A giant hole cracked its way around me and I slid into it effortlessly. I counted my lucky stars, I didn't think I had much of those left, for my enhanced strength.
I then slanted the rock off at an angle with my hands and knees so that the direct sunlight would not burn me in the morning and the night air wouldn't be so harsh.
Once I was satisfied with my handiwork and I was adequately covered, I collapsed into my hole.
I tore open the last of my water from my pack and gulped it down. I felt somewhat refreshed after that, my mind already closing down in preparations for sleep.
Yet something tickled my nose.
I swatted at my face and then picked off a small strand of pink hair that had come from my own head. And then I blinked. Since when had my hair been hard and round?
My heartbeat quickened and I almost exulted with joy. Pink sand! I elbowed my way to the top of my makeshift burrow and poked my head out.
All around me was shiny, pink, pink, pink - sand. I breathed a sigh of relief and joy and sunk back into my hole. I wouldn't be able to find the cure tonight, with the pitch blackness of the sky and whatnot. And I most certainly couldn't use a fire jutsu when the Infected could be close by.
But I had found it somehow, probably when the storm had picked up and I had ran in any direction that wouldn't kill me.
So I went to sleep happy that night. I was closer to success than I had thought.
I could taste it.
I awoke suddenly - the taste of my success gone only to be replaced by blood.
I was dying. Someone was actually choking the life out of me and I was helpless to do anything. For the moment. Wasting only seconds, I narrowed my eyes and swung outwards.
Whoever had grabbed me was knocked backwards and thrown into thousands upon thousands of pink grains of sand. My chest heaved as I held my neck with both hands. I glanced around anxiously, my vision never fully leaving the enemy.
Whoever it was that wanted me dead - or my body anyways - had yanked me out of my hole and into the night air. So I had only been asleep for a couple of hours. I fingered the syringe in my pocket just in case.
They weren't taking my body. Not alive anyways.
The figure upheaved itself and I could tell they were staring at me. I realized then that in my haste, the scarf that had been covering my entire head, which only exposed my eyes and nose, had slipped away. Damn it.
Now they knew exactly what I looked like. Oh well, I was going to kill them anyways before they took a step towards me.
"Infected," I hissed in disgust. I circled backwards, pushing chakra into my palms. I was going to break their neck in half.
The figure continued to stare at me and then I could see that even though they were dressed in loose robes, like myself, it was obviously male. And then they lowered their hood and I gasped. "…Kakashi - sensei?"
My question lingered and I could still hear it in the air. No, he wasn't my sensei. Kakashi had disappeared over a year ago and this was only the shell of a man. Madara had gotten to him.
I could tell he - no it, I refused to think of it as my beloved sensei- was smiling even though it was wearing a mask over it's lips. This made me angry for some reason and I charged just as it was about to speak.
I was quick but it was quicker. It anticipated my movements and it was then that I could see it had Kakashi's old Sharingan in effect. My body was instantly numbed - the effect of the hypnosis it had placed me under - but it was surprised to see that I could still struggle.
"Let me go!" I yelled. But it held my hands above my head and I stared at it with pure hatred. "No," it replied in Kakashi's old lazy drawl. That brought tears to my eyes and I watched in anger as they betrayed me and slipped down my face.
It released me then, and I could see that it had concern on its face for me. But I knew it was all an act. It was of the Infected now and its main priority was to see my body taken from me. Never.
I kicked it in the groin and human or not - it still felt the pain like a man should. It wheezed and I tried to crawl away but it grabbed my ankle and pulled me back. This time he straddled me hard, no gentleness whatsoever.
I bared my teeth at it. "Sakura, its me, Kakashi," it insisted angrily this time. I shook my head violently.
"It is!" It yelled in my face.
But I wouldn't accept it. Of course it would know my name because it would have Kakashi's memories. Every Infected I encountered always was sneaky and intelligent. It wasn't like classic zombie movies, they could blend in like the rest of us.
Except they had tell-tale signs. No perfect plan was without its flaws. Only in firelight would their eyes show the black tomoes of a Sharingan no matter what their eye color was - even if it was black. It would glow unnaturally and then fade away once the light from the fire was removed.
And then there was the mark. On the indent of their wrist would be an upside down emblem of the Uchiha clan. The red and white paper fan.
Of course these were the bearings of Uchiha Madara. And once you bore the mark - you were cursed or what most people liked to call : Infected.
I thrashed in it's hold but it didn't seem keen on hurting me. What I found strange was that it hadn't tried to turn me yet. It seemed like it was breathing heavily because of the hard time I was giving it so I took that moment to break free. I grabbed the syringe in my pocket and tried to slam it into my wrist but it knocked the needle out of my hands.
"I'm afraid you can't kill yourself just now, Sakura," it sighed wearily. I ignored it and tried to struggle to reach my syringe yet its knees kept me painfully locked in place.
"I'm human," it said finally.
"Then show me!" I roared back. "Show me your wrist."
It averted its eyes and sighed again wearily. "I'll show you my eyes."
"No!" I insisted. "The wrist." Eyes could lie. But there was no mistaking the mark.
Sighing, it shoved up its sleeve and jutted its wrist out at me. "I had this tatooed on," it tried to explain to me. I wasn't buying it. Who in their right mind would voluntarily do such a thing?
Still careful to hold me down with one hand - it used the other to conjure up a small fire on its finger with some jutsu. The fired burned blood red unlike natural orange-yellow flames. It held it to its eyes and I could see no spinning pinwheels, just a pair of mismatched eyes - one was a regular black and the other held a real Sharingan.
I gulped, nervously. Untrustingly. "I don't believe you," I whispered.
"Then believe me," a voice commanded from above me and behind it.
I stared past it and at the one face I never thought I'd see again.
To be continued.