Darkness. No stars in the sky. No birds singing in the trees. No flowers budding. Far, far away from home.
That was where he found her.
Playground school bell rings
Rain clouds come to play
Torn and bloody, they were. Her clothes. Soaked in the viscous red liquid, they were caked on her stiff form, still being coated with fresh, oozing life force.
Her eyes were desperate, frightened, as she struggled to reach out, to plead with whoever was up there, whoever was down here. Just someone to save her.
It wasn't meant to be like this.
When she saw him, her face had filled with a desperate hope.
"Please," she begged of him, struggling to rise. "Please, help me."
But one look and he had known there was no point.
But he couldn't tell her that.
"I don't want to die," she pleaded, her eyes swimming with fear. "I'm not ready to go. Not yet."
Has no one told you she's not breathing?
Hello, I'm your mind
Giving you someone to talk to
So, instead he had squatted beside her, running a gentle hand across her face.
"It'll be ok," he had whispered to her, gently, softly. Like you would speak to a frightened animal. "I'll make it ok. Show me where you're hurt."
So she had. And the wound had been terrifying. But not nearly as terrifying as the agonised horror in her face, swirling in her electrifying orbs.
"Please," she whispered to him. "Please."
"I'll try." And his hand had reached to touch the injury.
If I smile and don't believe
Soon I know I'll wake
From this dream.
But her small fingers had stopped his, trembling as they did so.
"No," she had whispered, her breath coming in small, anguished gasps. "It's too late. I know it is."
He felt a hot rush if denial burn through him. "It's not too late. It's never too late. A shinobi never gives up, remember?" he had told her, and he had been gratified by the small smile that had touched her lips.
"I'm not giving up," she had told him, her eyes lighting in that way he was so used to. "I'm just… changing my goal."
"Change it once you're healed," he pleaded, his fear taking him too far beyond rational thought to believe in his earlier calculation. Fear at her... her leaving him, this time.
She had smiled again then, although this one had not met her eyes.
"You can't save me," she had told him simply.
Don't try to fix me
I'm not broken.
"What do you want?" he asked her, unfamiliar emotions colouring his tone. He had sounded like a schoolboy, begging help off of his teacher.
"Please… pretend that you care…" she had breathed, closing her eyes. "Just for once. Tell me… please, tell me what I always wanted to hear… Sasuke."
And so he had gathered her into his arms. She had looked so small. Fragile. Empty. Broken. White, porcelain skin, red, staining life.
"I love you," he had whispered, closing his eyes. She had always wanted to hear him say it. Had always strove for him to share her feelings.
And now, it was true. For one, short moment, as she lay dying in his arms.
Hello, I'm the light
Living for you so you can hide
"Thank you," she had breathed, closing her eyes.
He had felt panic then, sharp and acute, stabbing him in his chest, robbing him of breath.
"No, Sakura-" his words were fumbled, his tone uneven. "Please, Sakura, don't-"
She opened her eyes, one last time.
"I don't want to," she had mumbled. "I don't want to leave. But… I'm so tired, Sasuke. And so scared."
"I'll hold you," he had promised. "I'll hold you, until the fear goes away. Just, please. Hold on."
She had raised a hand, white, and perfect. Small fingers ran limply down his face, and he caught it.
"I can't," she had whispered. "I can't. I'm too… tired." Her emerald eyes, foggy with pain that she was trying to suppress, had caught the depths of his onyx orbs. "I love you, Sasuke," she had told him simply.
"I know," he had replied, clutching her cold hand against his warm cheek, as though it were an anchor, a lifeline. Something to hold her to this world. Just for a bit longer. "I love you too."
Sakura had closed her eyes then.
"That's good," she told herself. "Thank you… for lying to me. Just once." She breathed.
Her hand went slack.
Her breath stopped.
And as Sasuke pressed his head against her chest, he could hear no heartbeat.
He gathered her shrunken body, and held her close to him, and howled like a wounded animal.
She had always been the trusting one, always believed in the lie. And yet she had missed the truth in his words.
And now... now it was too late.
And Sasuke Uchiha cried for the woman who had died in his arms.
Suddenly I know I'm not sleeping.
Hello, I'm still here,
All that's left of yesterday…
They had found her the next day. The shinobi from Konoha. She had been lying, still and perfect, on the stone bench so close to the exit of the gates.
The same stone bench from years ago.
The bloody clothing had been cut off, and replaced with a simple, white yukata. The blood had been cleaned from her body, cleaned from her face, until the only colour left was the rose of her hair…
And the scarlet of the wound that had stolen her life.
Kakashi had been the one to find her. He had arrived, for once in his life, early.
A Konoha Kunoichi
She died with a smile on her lips.