"She collapsed in the lobby and hasn't woken up since. And her heart rate is dropping at a fast rate."
"Well, do something! Someone, get the doctor! This is an emergency!"
"We're doing all we can!"
As the voices and echoes of machines faded, Sakura found herself laying alone in the darkness. It was as though she was sinking into the abyss of the blackest ocean. Not even the smallest ray of light could reach her. Her skin ached from the icy fingers of death that wrung around her limbs. What is this? I feel so strange...numb... I don't understand any of this. Her eyes remained shut as she sank deeper into the darkness.
Kakashi turned to see Tsunade enter the room in a hasty manner and showed his respect with a quick bow. "You made it," he muttered.
"Of course I made it," she scoffed, "How is she?"
Kakashi's eyes darkened as he shook his head and replied, "Not so good. She suddenly fell into some sort of coma. The medc-nins have done all that they could to stabilize her and this is the result." He took in a deep breath and brushed some strands of hair from Sakura's face. "She's as white as the sheets she's sleeping on..." he said sadly.
"Stop talking like that!" Tsunade rebuked him.
"Face it!" Kakashi pulled away from the sleeping woman and instead faced the wall. The feeling of helplessness ate at him like a virus and he no longer possessed the strength to watch as his former student awaited Death's arrival. "She won't stay long, we all know that. You have to stop denying the facts! Even from here, I can feel it."
Tsunade's eyes stung with tears, but her voice remained fairly steady. "...I can, too," she admitted, "That..lonely feeling...when you know you have to tell someone 'goodbye'." She let out one last grunt of frustration before rubbing her eyes dry. "Keep an eye on her. Report any changes in her condition to me immediately." She turned and stormed out the door.
Kakashi let out one of many sighs he had today. "Right." Suddenly, the door flew open and in came a flurry of gold. "Naruto!"
Naruto rushed over to Sakura's side and cried, "Sakura-chan! Sakura-chan, open your eyes!"
"Naruto, stop it!" Kakashi held the blonde back as best he could, but was roughly pushed away. "Naruto, if you disturb her right now, who knows what might happen. So stop it! For her sake!"
Naruto slumped against the wall, pounding on it a few times. "It's not fair," he mumbled, "Leaving without saying anything. Not thinking about how others might actually feel about it. It's just not fair!" He returned to Sakura's side and grasped her hand. "Sakura-chan...please... Don't leave. Not like this. Not ever."
Kakashi placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder and said, "Naruto, she was considering your feelings above all."
"Don't try to cover for her with lies, sensei."
"Think about it, you fool. She came her alone and collapsed upon arrival. She was in pain...a lot of pain. It took a lot of courage for her to come here because she had to hide her suffering side from you. I'm guessing at some point, she ended up pushing you away or something. She didn't want you to worry. I don't think she would have wanted you to see her like this because she knew it'd just break your heart. So stop it, Naruto. Don't resent her for trying to protect you."
Naruto could feel his chest tightening. "...I...Sakura-chan..."
"Let her go."
Sakura raised her head at Naruto's echoing voice. "Na-Naruto," she gurgled. Her head throbbed and she was forced into silence. Naruto, I can't speak anymore but just know this. Thank you for everything. I don't know if I'm coming back...probably not. I can feel my sands slipping through my fingers. I'm sorry I had to leave you like this. She coughed. A crimson trail of bubbles emerged from her mouth and traveled upwards with the droplet of tears that had been falling from her eyes for a while. But I'm at my end. Please...just...be happy. She grinned.
I like you a lot, you know. No, more like...love...
Her heart rate soon fell flat. For a moment, Naruto and Kakashi stood in suspended time, trapped in total disbelief that Sakura was now gone. But Kakashi quickly reawakened and walked to the open door. "Haruno Sakura!" he announced and lowered his head. "...has passed." In no time, medic-nins rushed into the room and surrounded the woman's bed to perform futile attempts in reviving her. Tsunade came in after and stood a distance. Kakashi could clearly see that she was trying to keep a straight face, but her lips were visibly quivering. However, he pretended not to notice.
"Well," Tsunade sniffed, "Th-that's...that." She bit her lower lip and then grazed her teeth on it to ease her next sentence. "Cover her up."
Naruto watched as the medic-nins pried his and Sakura's hands apart and proceeded in covering her body with a plain, white sheet. Tears trickled down his cheeks. She's gone. "Sakura-chan..." He staggered backwards, but held himself up with the little strength he had left in his legs.
Tsunade gave the ok for Kakashi to leave her side to console his ex-student. "Be gentle with him," she warned and led the team out with the body.
Alone in a now empty room, Kakashi sat himself and Naruto down on the floor. "Hm," he chuckled, "C'mmon now, Naruto. It's not like you didn't see this coming. We can't stay sad or else she'll be sad, too. Where ever she is."
Naruto stayed silent for a bit and then returned the chuckle, which surprised Kakashi a little. "It's okay, sensei," he smiled through his tears, "Everything you said was true. And that...knowing Sakura-chan was thinking of me this whole time...makes me really happy."
Kakashi smiled behind his mask and gave Naruto a pat on the head.
"...nn...hm?" Sakura opened her eyes and a bright flash of light entered her world. She found herself staring into familiar blue eyes and was much too stunned to speak. The blond lad looked back at her with the same expression.
Sakura sat up, looked at the familiar boy in the face, and asked, "Are you...Naruto? How old are you?"
"Yeah...it's me," Naruto answered uncertainly, "Are you okay, Sakura-chan? Is this some case of amnesia? Well, you have been sleeping a while, but still! You can't have amnesia, you just can't!" He grabbed her hand and brought it to his lips. "Not after all that we said to each other."
A faint blush appeared on Sakura's cheeks as she cupped his face in her palm. "Naruto," she beamed.
Naruto sighed in relief and used his other free hand to press her palm against his cheek. "Thank goodness," he laughed, looking deep into her eyes.
Sakura and Naruto turned towards the door and saw Hinata standing frozen with a bouquet of flowers in her arms. "I-I...you've finally woken up!" she stammered, obviously shocked. But that expression was quickly replaced with a warm smile. "I'm glad."
Sakura's eyes widened in realization at when she was now. This is...that turning point in my life. And Naruto's, too. She looked closely at Hinata's saddened eyes.
Hinata noticed Sakura's stare and took it as her cue to leave. "I'll, um, go get the medic-nins right away!" she squeaked, "See, see you...yeah. Oh, and these flowers are for you, but I guess they're not important right now. Oh, what am I saying? Ah, I've got to go!"
Sakura smiled at the girl's awkwardness. "Hinata, wait."
I don't know what I'm doing anymore. "Let Naruto go with you."
"What?" Hinata and Naruto gasped at the same time.
"Yeah." I don't want it. "I mean, I'd really like it if you guys could get everyone and I could surprise them on my own when you bring them here." But it feels like I've found salvation this way. She looked at Naruto, who had on a very puzzled expression. Despite the heavy feeling lingering in her heart, she gave him a gentle smile. "Please? For me."
Naruto hesitated at first, but smiled back and accepted. "Hey, Hinata!" he called, "Wait for me!"
Hinata's face reddened in an instant. "Na-Naruto-kun, are you sure?"
"Hey, if Sakura-chan is sure, then so am I," he grinned and grabbed Hinata by the wrist. "C'mmon!"
Sakura watched as their silhouettes vanished. A small smile graced her face. I'll be fine. "At least this time, I had a choice."