LAST CHAPTER GUYS!!!! Yes, yes, this is the last chapter of "A Twisted Kind of Sane" so be sure to drink in every word of this chapter! Now go on and read and don't forget to read the little footnote at the bottom!
She was surrounded by friends, almost suffocated by their presence, and yet she still felt like the odd ball out. Like she was the black sheep in the flock pretending to be something she wasn't and could never hope to be. Even as Naruto wrapped his arm around her shoulder and joked and talked with her, even though Shikamaru was as lazy as ever, even though Kiba gave his trademark wolfish smile and poked fun at her just like he had done in high school, even though Ino, Hinata, and Tenten squealed and giggled like the girls they used to be with gossip whispering past their lips, in Sakura's head, the same words went around and around in a tight, compact, repeating circle: You don't belong here.
But she was stubborn, excessively so, and she pushed away the thought and flung herself into the old life she had led before...before everything had blown up in her face. She wanted this, she wanted to be with her friends and she wanted to have the normal life she had denied herself. She wanted to have fun and date and feel the innocence and excitement of a new relationship. Even if her stomach churned and dropped sickeningly at the thought of dating again.
"Sakura? Earth to Sakura!" Tenten waved a hand in front of her face and smiled widely when Sakura's eyes refocused on her. "Ino found this beautiful dress for you and she says you have to try it on. Right now."
"Oh, okay. I'll be right there." she said and watched with distant eyes as Tenten turned and walked back to where Ino stood by the dress racks, pawing through the silky, glittering fabric with abandon.
Taking a deep breath, Sakura plunged head first into what she desperately hoped would be a new beginning.
Her heels clacked loudly on the linoleum floors and he winced at their piercing sound, like nails on a chalkboard. He would have liked to turn and run more than anything, and he almost did. He almost lost himself to that cold grip of hate and fear clinging to his bones and drenching his skin. There was only one thing keeping him still, one acknowledgment that would not allow him to run like the coward he knew he was.
He had made the mistake of running once before, he would not make it again.
"Are you ready?"
He gave a nod and reached down to the simple backpack hunched by his leg. In it contained everything that mattered to him, things that would remind him of the pain he had suffered in the walls imprisoning him and show him why he would never return. A set of clothes, a piece of paper with phone numbers to his brother and sister, a bracelet made from faded twine, (A parting gift from one of the patients, a young girl with wide black eyes and scruffy brown hair who had scrambled away from him afterward. Tsunade had explained that she was delusional in her head, believing that she could see angels in people and would give them insignificant nothings in hopes of her not being forgotten and forsaken. Gaara would not forget her.) a few notebooks filled with journal entries of his stay over the years, and, finally, hidden underneath the other paraphernalia packed into the bag, was a simple photo.
It was creased in places where it had accidentally been folded and even had a faded coffee stain on the back. It didn't matter. In the picture, she was sitting at the metal table where his therapy sessions with her had been held in the beginning. Her head was bent down, reading a blue bound notebook intently like it held the secrets of life and one of her hands were tangled in her odd pink hair, keeping it away from her glittering emerald eyes. A pen was caught between her lips as she nibbled on the edge of it, concentrating on what the words before her presented.
In the background, he himself was leaning against the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest and his head turned toward the window. The sun was streaming through the window and reflecting off of every surface, almost blindingly. It looked like the Gaara in the picture was staring at the clouds as they passed by the window, but in actuality, if you looked close enough, it was clear that his head was inclined to the woman at the table, listening to her. The only eye visible to the camera was fixed on her back and his body wasn't tensed as if waiting for an attack. He was calm.
"Let's go, Gaara."
He turned and followed Tsunade from his room, the room that had been his refuge for as long as he had stayed in the hospital. It was impossible to believe that he was leaving it forever so that some other unfortunate soul could inhabit it, could haunt it's walls.
"I think it's about time this happened, don't you?" she asked pleasantly, though both knew it was all a charade. "A year or more with me, with the new plan, and everything will be fine." Her sharp hazel eyes fixed on him. "You'll be able to live for once, Gaara. On your own."
He didn't answer and she didn't expect him to. He was leaving Konoha Institution for the Mentally Unstable for good and it was like a dream.
At the car, they stopped and she turned to him - taking his pack and putting it in the backseat along with a few boxes of papers and charts that she would use during their stay away. She nodded to the forlorn looking building at his back. "Take a good look, Gaara. Say goodbye."
He obeyed and turned around, looking at the structure with a blank face. His home, his sanctuary, his life was being left in the past and he wasn't sad to see it locked away. Faces stared out at him from the windows like he had once done, showing the remorse and pain and drugged expression that all patients wore like a medal. It exposed them for what they were, for what they would become. They were the walking dead.
"They all hope to never see you again."
As did he.
He turned his back on them, on what he used to be, and tilted his head back, letting the cool air bite and sting his cheeks. He breathed, and for the first time, didn't think about anything else except for the fresh air filling his lungs and washing his past away like water. He was starting something new, and it would be hard, but you can't have the good without the bad. You have to fight for what you want. Nothing is ever simple.
He thought of the picture in his bag.
He wasn't running anymore.
And that completes this story. The end.
NOT! Sequel is going to be up soon, like maybe in a week because I need to get the story straight in my head before I go ahead and jump the gun and start writing it, okay? I hope you enjoyed the entire YEAR it took to write this and thank you guys for sticking with me through it even when I didn't update forever and even somehow managed to delete the whole thing. It meant a lot to read the reviews and see how much it was enjoyed by you guys (even though all of them were deleted with the story before I resurrected it!) and I am SO excited that I decided to do a sequel.
If the start of the sequel isn't posted in the coming week, please please PLEASE just be patient because I have to apply for a job and all that other good stuff that comes with being sixteen without a car (heavy sarcasm!!) Oh, and just in case you guys want to read my one ficlet that isn't fanfiction go to my profile and find the link that goes to fictionpress okay? I only have one thing up and I want to know if it's any good at all or if I just scrap it. Please and thank you!
Don't forget to review this last chapter! You know you want to, so please let me know what you thought of it!