dedication: to all of the readers who review every time but i never reply to—Shubhs, arch-nsha, C.A.M.E.O.1 and Only, signalbox, QueenThayet12990, TigerLilyette, MyUsedRomance—and i know i'm missing a lot more. some of them go all the way back to when i was still posting Dreams—and that really is something. i hope you guys like this, because without you guys, i doubt i'd be writing as much as i do now. thank you.


(thump. thump. thump.)

"Shishou, we've found him! He's barely breathing, but he's still alive—"

(thump. thump. thump.)

Open your eyes. Please.
Can't you feel my hands against your heart?
Can't you feel me transfer my warmth to you?
Can't you
feel me?

"Stabilize him, and then bring him back—"

"His heartbeat's fading—"

(thump. thump. thump…)

Sasuke. Sasuke. Sasuke.

Sasuke-kun.

Sasuke-kun.

"Shizune! We need you over here!"

"Y-Yes!"

(thump. thump…thum…p…)

"Quick, more chakra—stop his bleeding—"

"Sasuke-kun, you can't die. I don't care if you're unconscious; you have to hear me. Don't die." Please.

You can't leave me when I'm like this.
You can't leave me when all I've been doing is waiting.
You can't leave when you're what my heart beats for.

(thu…mp.)

"Sasuke—"

Slowly, she opened her eyes.

"…-kun."


She didn't know who he was.

In the world of black and white, she had no idea who he was. She couldn't remember his face, didn't know his significance—she didn't even know his name.

All she knew was that he was everything to her.

(she had him on the tip of her tongue—scalding, almost—but she could never put her finger on it.)

When she woke up, she lay there for a long while, wondering what kind of dream she had. It was a dream, she knew—even if she couldn't remember what it was about. Because every time she had a dream, she woke up feeling empty, feeling like she was missing something—

But she was always missing something. She always had been missing something.

She got out of bed and stepped onto the freezing cement floor, before trudging through her morning routine. A hot shower, a cold breakfast, and out the door.

Ready for another day.

(because all she could ever do was continue on. all she could ever do was survive.)

In the world of black and white, all she knew was that she was—


F
A

D
I
N
G

A
W
A
Y


The place was eerily empty; old and decomposing, but still sterile and reeking of antiseptic. The beds were scarce with only one thin blanket each, the blue of the fabric faded away. The tile floor was scratched with decades of use, and the lights on the ceiling flickered.

(step. step. step.)

There was a desk in the far corner, with paper scattered all over it. If one looked closely, he'd find scribbled notes and descriptions in the margins and crossed-out feelings that didn't matter anymore. There was a cabinet on the other side of the room, filled with bottles and gauze and everything else a standard doctor would need.

But this place wasn't standard, and neither was she.

(she never saw the sunlight. she lived in a place where even hope didn't dare reach—)

Today was an important day. At least, that was what the calendar on the wall said. She wasn't exactly sure why.

She had scars on her arms and hands, and one running along the side of her face that was hidden by her hair. She was thin and she was empty and if someone was to look at her, that person would think that she was jaded and broken and impossible to fix.

(step. step. creak.)

Standing in front of the opening door was a pink-haired woman with dull green eyes, who used to (used to, used to, used to) have a name.

Used to.

(she didn't exist anymore.)


"Can you feel anything?"

She tilted her head to the side.

"What's feeling?"


"You're illegal."

Those were the first words she heard when she came into this world. She was born into this black-and-white world at the age of twenty-three, and that was her first memory.

(illegal, illegal, illegal.)

She was the product of an experiment. A stolen premature fetus that was cared for, until she was old enough for them to safely inject her with drugs of all kinds, in attempt to kill a part of her brain. She was a lab rat, experimented on to create the perfect human robot.

(perfect. but she found that she was never perfect.)

Today was an important day.

She walked behind a man with dark eyes and dark hair—Itachi, they called him—they whispered his name behind closed doors, and every time she heard it, she'd feel a shiver run down her spine, but she wasn't exactly sure why. Perhaps it was an unnecessary instinct that they hadn't gotten rid of.

"You're going to meet my younger brother," he had told her. "And from now on, you're his."

"His?"

"Yes. You're his."

(his. his. she was a possession.)

Their footsteps echoed in the cold and empty hallway, only lit dimly by yellow lights. She played with her fingers. "Itachi-sama, I'm out of anesthetic—"

"Then don't use it."

"But the patients—"

"They are not patients, Doctor." That was her name. Doctor. That was what she went by, what she responded to. "They are experiments."

(but was she really a doctor when she didn't even see patients?)

"They're in pain," she protested. He didn't look back once.

"And why do you care? You're not the one feeling it."

(in truth, she didn't like it when they screamed. she didn't like it when they begged her to make it stop. when even the grown men began crying like children.)

She was quiet after that, until they reached the main room—sparsely furnished with some couches, armchairs, and tables. It was the most luxurious room in the entire place, but she rarely got to spend time in it. She wasn't one of them.

(they referred to themselves as the "akatsuki"—dangerous, prowling, and waiting to get you.)

Sitting in one of the armchairs was a man, and even in the dim light, she could make out his appearances fairly well. Her eyes were built for that.

He was a breathtaking man. He looked similar to Itachi; dark hair and dangerous eyes, with an unforgettable face and poised figure. When he saw them approach, he stood up, expression unreadable.

"She's all yours," Itachi said. "Do with her as you wish."

The other man looked at him evenly. "Tch. You always give me the defects."

"This one lasted longer, you must admit." And when Itachi disappeared, they were the only ones left.

The man held out his hand, and she took it automatically. (warm hands.) "I'm Uchiha Sasuke."

She nodded.

His expression remained blank. "Who are you?"

She stared emptily at him. For some unknown reason, her bottom lip trembled.

(you're illegal. you're flawless. you don't exist.)

"Who am I?"

She flinched when he raised a hand and took a lock of her hair between his fingers. Because every time someone made a move to touch her, it was to hit her, to hurt her, to tell her she had done something wrong.

But his touch didn't hurt.

(she could barely feel it. it almost wasn't there.)

"Your name," he said slowly, "will be Sakura."

"Sakura," she repeated.

"For your hair. It's the exact color of cherry blossoms."

"Cherry blossoms?"

(they sounded sweet. light. warm.)

His brows furrowed, only by a fraction. "When was the last time you left this place?"

Pause. "I don't know."

The man—his name was Uchiha Sasuke, she had to remind herself; the brother of Uchiha Itachi; just as beautiful, and equally dangerous—merely looked at her for a long moment, before pursing his lips and saying, "Show me your working quarters."

And so she led him back down the empty hallway and to her small clinic—but it wasn't really a clinic, because all she ever did was amputate and terminate.

Uchiha Sasuke walked around the place, assessing the area. "Is there anything of importance here that'd you'd like to bring with you? I'd like to take you to your new office right away. You're moving, too, so make sure to take all of your belongings."

She blinked. "I'm moving?"

"Yes. I'm not letting you stay here."

(in this dark, damp place that always gave her goosebumps. in this place that she only associated pain and blood and death to. and perhaps…

perhaps hell.)


(thump…thump…thump…)

"Naruto, get out of the way!"

"Sakura-chan, he's alive, right? You're taking him to surgery, right?"

"Yeah, but if you don't get out of the way, he might die—so move!"

Don't stop breathing.
Whatever you do, don't stop breathing.
My heart still beats for you.
So please—have yours beat for me?

(th-thump…th…thump…)

"Part of his heart is smashed—it's a miracle he's still alive at all—"

"But that means he wants to live, right? Sasuke-kun wants to live?"

No answer.

"Keep the seal going! An minor disturbances in your chakra could kill him!"

Please. Please. Please.

Live.


It was a different light.

Her new home was grand. She was told that the entire building was the Uchiha Mansion; marble floors and grand staircases and chandeliers and all things that represented wealth.

But none of this fascinated her.

What caught her attention were the windows.

(the grass. the sun. the sky.)

She had never seen anything like it before, other than in her medical books. And even then, the pictures were limited.

It was all so…bright.

Every morning, she would wake up in her double-sized bed, lying in the soft pillows an underneath a warm comforter. And every morning, she would look over to the window to her left, hidden by the white curtains.

Every morning, she would pull open the curtains and stare outside in wonder.

(there were colors. it wasn't just black and white anymore.)

She worked primarily in the basement. Her workplace there was cleaner than the one before; there were fluorescent lights and a carpeted floor; the beds for the patients (Sasuke had to correct her when she said experiments) were cleaned daily, and she had a wider range of medical tools.

She still had messed up experiments—patients—but instead of amputating or terminating, she was now fixing.

It was a new word. Fixing.

For the first week, she spent most of her time in the library. Sasuke told her to. There was an expanse of books, medical and non-medical. Novels, dictionaries, encyclopedias—

(it was like a haven to her.)

Sasuke was out for most of the day. He often returned a little before she went to bed (she was staying up later and later now, immersing herself in books upon books upon books), but he would occasionally be back before dinner. And if he was, he'd cook for the both of them.

(she had never been a good cook. it was always some raw vegetables in the fridge for her.)

And they'd eat together.

(in silence, but it was a sort of peace that she had never known before.)

And it was soon that she realized that it felt like she wasn't missing so much anymore. When she woke up in the mornings, she felt content.

Even if she did have a dream.


"Can you smile?"

"What's a smile?"

He reached out to pull at the corner of her lips. "Something like that."

"No, I don't think I've ever done it before."

"That's unnatural, you know."

She looked at him curiously. "But you don't do it either."


She stared longingly at the window. "May I go outside?"

Sasuke didn't look up from his newspaper. "No."

They always had breakfast together. Sakura would wake up at a certain time, look out the window, shower, and then come down for a hot breakfast. Sometimes, it was toast, sometimes, eggs—and sometimes, she was lucky, and they'd have waffles or pancakes.

Being with Sasuke was like an adventure.

(always something new. always something exciting.)

She looked at him curiously. "But you go outside every day."

"You and I are different, I hope you know."

She did know. She knew how she was the ugly duckling and he was the swan (she had read the children's book in the library), how she knew nothing and he knew everything, how she belonged to him, and not to herself.

But she couldn't go outside because of that?

"How does the sun feel?" she asked, squirting some ketchup onto her scrambled eggs. (She really liked ketchup.) "And the wind?"

(she could speak out in front of sasuke. she could ask questions. she could learn.)

"The sun is warm." He put down his newspaper, and finished his coffee.

"Like your hands?"

He paused and looked at her. He liked to do that a lot. "Yes," he finally said. "Like my hands."

"And the wind?"

"The wind…" He trailed off and stood up. "Come here." He brought her to a nearby window. He opened it, and stood back for her to peek her head out of it. A breeze rolled by, and she froze.

She couldn't quite describe it, but—

(it felt like life.)

She reluctantly stepped away from the window when she felt Sasuke's hand on her arm. "May I open the windows when you're gone?"

He shut the window and locked it with a definite click. "No."

Because she was the ugly duckling, and he was the swan.

But even the ugly duckling grew into something beautiful.


"Sasuke-sama, where is your family?"

"I don't have one."

"But isn't Itachi-sama your family?"

He paused. "No, he's not."


Her first patient was a man missing an eye.

Her job was to fix. That was all Sasuke said. He told her to read the books, remember what they said, and apply it to her patients. He said that doctors were supposed to fix, not destroy.

"Do you feel any pain?" she asked.

(because if he did, she had anesthetic. she could numb it.)

He pointed to his empty eye socket. "Here," he said gruffly. "Hurts like a bitch. And my ankle, too."

She gave him some morphine, and then bandaged his eye. She placed his foot into a cast. She gave him a bottle of painkillers to take on a normal basis. She escorted him out of the room and to the patients' quarters. There were rooms upon rooms in the basement, most likely branching out and away from the mansion—all empty, but would begin to fill up, Sasuke had told her. And when the man wobbled into his own private quarters, he held up his bottle of pills to her.

"Thanks, hon'."

And it was so strange, because it was the first time anyone had ever thanked her. She stood there for a long moment, trying to comprehend what was happening to her, because it felt like her heart was swelling up, and her lips wanted to curve in this unnatural way—

(was she smiling?)

"You're…" She breathed in. "You're welcome."

And he disappeared into his room.

And even as she scribbled onto her clipboard missing eye, broken ankle, discharge: two weeks and tacked it to his door, the giddy feeling in her stomach didn't recede.

(because it almost felt like there was hope.)


notes: lo and behold, my new fic that i've been working on for the past month! for some reason, i feel like you guys are going to like this.

i know this is not that good, but it's the first chapter. IT GETS BETTER, I SWEAR. D: