You know those dream sequences on sitcom television shows that sometime show the future for the cast or a character…usually for comic relief or for scaring them into doing something? That was the inspiration for this fic. That and chapter 481 in the Naruto manga.
He couldn't get up from his bed. He didn't know why, though. The injuries from his last mission were bad enough to let him have time off to rest but not so bad that he couldn't get up out of bed. But every time he tried to sit up or even roll out of bed, he was met with pain and stiffness. Actually, come to think of it, the ceiling was unfamiliar, too. It was white with fluorescent lights hanging up over his head, like the hospital.
Just then, he heard the door open. "Good morning, Uchiha-san!" He turned his head towards the sound of a lithe woman's voice and found himself looking a short-haired young woman dressed in a nurse's uniform. Was he still at the hospital? "How did you sleep last night? Your legs weren't hurting you, were they?" She asked as she approached him, bending over to hold his arm. "C'mon, I brought up some breakfast for you—" Before she could finish, he struggled to pull his arm out of her grip—which is funny, because he didn't usually have a problem with it. Was he sick or something?
"Let me go," he spoke, but there was something wrong. His voice. It sounded tired and deeper than he was used to.
"Now, now, Uchiha-san, I know you prefer to eat in bed, but I think it'd be better for you to eat in the living room, okay?"
"Who are you and why are you bothering me like this?"
The woman stared at him and sighed before muttering, "Not again," with a groan. "Uchiha-san…my name is Keiko. I'm one of the nurses at the Shady Leaf."
"Shady Leaf…? You mean that retirement home?"
"Then why're you here at the hospital taking care of me when you should be doing your job?"
Nurse Keiko gave another groan. "Uchiha-san…I am doing my job. This is the Shady Leaf, remember?"
"…What?" Without so much as an answer, she pulled him out of bed with amazing force. Or maybe she didn't, if what she was saying was true. He was on his feet, but the weight… It felt as if they would collapse at any moment. Nurse Keiko held onto his arm, despite him trying to shake her off, and began to walk him towards the door. Before they left, he caught a glimpse of himself in the full body mirror off to the side. He was hunched over and bald, his skin wrinkled and loose and dotted with liver spots. He couldn't believe it. He was old.
It had to have been a genjutsu—it just had to be. This was someone's idea of a sick joke, but who? What idiot would dare try to cast an illusion on the infamous Uchiha Sasuke?
"Open up, Uchiha-san," Nurse Keiko said as she held up a spoon of oatmeal in front of him. The accursed woman had been spoon feeding him his breakfast and he couldn't stand it. It was bad enough that he could hardly hold onto a spoon, but to be treated like a baby…!
'Whoever did this is going to pay…dearly…!' He thought with a sour expression and opened his mouth to receive the food.
"And will you turn those eyes back to normal? Honestly, it scares me whenever you use them," Nurse Keiko lightly scolded him. "You can't intimidate me with those eyes like you do with the rest of the staff, sir."
"Hn." He had to wonder why the Sharingan wasn't working, though. No matter the illusion, he had been able to see through it with those eyes… So why weren't they working now?
"Come on…! If you do, I promise you'll get tomato soup for dinner!"
Nurse Keiko sighed and shook her head. "Fine. Be that way… You'll put it off once Sakura-san comes to visit."
Sasuke arched an eyebrow as the nurse placed the bowl of oatmeal down on the table and turned his wheelchair around. 'Sakura?' She wheeled him over to the small television set, which she turned on with a remote and placed it on a channel.
"Now, I have to go see to Akimichi-san, but I'll be back in a while to help you take your medication, okay?" The nurse said before leaving the room, closing the door behind her.
Sasuke gave a growl and deactivated his Sharingan. He started to rub one of his sore knees and shifted in his wheelchair. 'What sort of illusion is this…?'
After what seemed like hours of watching television shows he remembered seeing whenever he was off from missions—which were now called 'classics' and 'old-timed shows', the door opened and a little old woman shuffled into the room, a little girl with dark hair skipping behind her with exuberance. Her gray hair was set up in a bun, a shawl rested on her shoulders and back, and she held a large handbag in her hands.
'Who is that?' Sasuke thought with an arched eyebrow. He wondered if one of the patients here wandered into his room by mistake. Their eyes locked: black into jade… "Sakura…?" He breathed as the little girl skipped over to him and the old lady in red sat down on a chair on the other side of the room. Sakura gave him a small smile before pulling out a ball of yarn and some knitting needles.
"Hi!" The little girl said. "My name's Yuwi! Wemember?" She lisped as she looked up at Sasuke with a grin, showing she didn't have one of her front teeth. She then pointed at Sakura, who appeared to be continuing to knit something she started before coming here. "My Gwanny's makin' you a scawf for the winter. She aweady made me my mittens, see?" The girl held her mitten-covered hands up for Sasuke to see, but he wasn't the least bit interested.
"Uh-huh. And why isn't your granny telling me this herself?"
The girl blinked and tilted her head to the side. "Hm? Don't you know?"
The child turned away from him and folded her arms across her chest. "Daddy was wight! You can't wemember anything—not even why Gwanny won't speak around you!"
Sakura made a noise, which got the girl to run over to her side with a pout. Her grandmother gave her a look before finishing up her project. She got up, placed the scarf on the table, smiled at Sasuke and waved goodbye before shuffling out of the room, holding onto her granddaughter's hand.
Hours later, Keiko came back into the room, looking a bit frustrated. "That old pervert…! Geez!" She walked over to the table and noticed the scarf lying there. "I see Sakura-san came to visit you again, Uchiha-san. You must be grateful to have someone care for you so much and come visit…since no one else will…"
Sasuke remained silent, not really paying attention to the woman. Sakura had just come into his room, knitted him a scarf and left without saying so much as a word. And he was so sure she would talk his ear off like she usually did. But instead, she was silent and kept smiling at him while that irritating child chattered on. Whoever did this illusion obviously had some things to learn about his comrades.
"Hm…" Nurse Keiko picked up one of several small pill bottles from the table and opened it. She placed two pills from each bottle on the table next to a glass of water. "What's that?"
"Huh? It's your medication, remember, sir?"
"I don't need medication."
"Uh… That's not what the doctors say. You need medication for your heart condition, your arthritis, your Alzheimer's—"
"I don't have any of that!" He snapped, looking away from the woman to gaze at the television.
Nurse Keiko sighed and placed her hands on her hips. "I thought we were over the denial stage…!" Just then, the door opened and a balding elderly man hobbled in, gripping the head of his cane tightly as he walked. "Uzumaki-san! What're you doing up here? Your room's four doors down from here! Four doors!"
"Aw, I know that, Keiko-chan. I just wanted to see how Sasuke was doing before I went to check up on Hinata," the old man said, still hobbling past the nurse towards Sasuke. But he wasn't fast enough to evade the grip of her hand around his arm.
"I wouldn't disturb him if I were you… Sasuke-san isn't in his right of mind right about now…" She leaned forward and whispered into his ear, "I don't think he's been taking his medication again."
"Eh? What makes you say that?"
"He didn't know where he was or who I was…"
"I can still hear you, you know," Sasuke spoke without taking his eyes off of the television. But then he looked to his side to see the elderly man standing next to him. "Let me guess: you're supposed to be Naruto."
"I am Naruto. Get your head straight, you old coot," Naruto grumbled. "How can we talk when you're not in your right of mind?"
The old man sighed and leaned forward a bit. "Every time you decide not to take your medicine, I have to remind you about everything that's happened and correct you to make sure you don't hurt yourself. We may as well be married! Sheesh…" He turned around, shaking his head. "I'll bring you back to your senses later. I think I'll go check up on Hinata now…" he mumbled as he hobbled out of the room.
"Idiot," Sasuke grumbled, turning his attention back to the television.
Days passed and Sasuke's patience was running thin. He couldn't break the illusion with his Sharingan, and his attempts at causing himself pain only made the nursing home staff angry and got him a few days strapped down to his bed like some lunatic. And on those days it wasn't uncommon for Sakura to come visit and do something—feed him, help him take his medicine, make sure he was comfortable—all without saying a word for some reason. If only he knew why… Not that he cared about the feelings of some illusion of his teammate, but maybe that would help break it. So he tried to make small talk with her. He tried asking her about her grandchildren, how she was doing, even said he was sorry for whatever it was he did to make her stop speaking to him like that. But she never said a word. It was just a smile, a nod, and a wave from the old woman…and for some reason it drove him mad. Then one day, her little granddaughter came with a man, but no Sakura.
"My Gwanny's got a cold, so she couldn't come today," said Sakura's granddaughter—what was her name? Yuri?—as she held onto the pants leg of the dark-haired man who was holding a plastic bowl with a lid. "She thought you'd want some chicken noodle soup in case you were sick, too! Right, Daddy?"
"Hn," the dark-haired man grunted as he placed the bowl on the table. "You're welcome…"
Sasuke arched an eyebrow at the man's attitude as the girl continued, "And wear your scawf! So you don't get sick, too! See?" She held up her hands, showing off her mittens. "Just like me!"
"Hm." Sasuke bent over with some effort and patted the girl on the head, which got a flinch from her father. "Thank you, dear."
Yuri gave him a grin. "Daddy! He said thank you for once! He's not such a bad guy after all!"
"Hmph." The man stiffly bowed his head and grabbed his daughter's hand. "Have a nice day, Uchiha-san." He turned and left the room with his daughter, leaving Sasuke with his television.
"Do you remember my bachelor party? You were drinking nothing but soda, so Kiba would mix some beer with it when you weren't looking. You drank twelve glasses of that stuff before you started singing and dancing on the countertop! Heh-heh-heh!" Naruto wheezed as he rubbed the back of his head with the same dumb grin Sasuke remembered seeing on the real young Naruto. "Remember?"
"No," Sasuke spoke simply, staring at the television commercial with a half-lidded expression. "What about Sakura?"
"Sakura, you old coot. What about her? How come she doesn't speak to me anymore?"
Naruto frowned. "Can't remember that, huh? There's a first…" He leaned back in his seat and held his chin in thought. "Let's see… How should I put this…?" He looked up at Sasuke. "It's your fault."
Sasuke arched an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
"Do you remember when we were young? Way, way back then? You told her you didn't want to hear her speak again, so…?"
Sasuke blinked. When did that happen? "I never told her that. And even if I did, she wouldn't let something like that stop her from speaking to me. She's too damn annoying to do that…"
"Yeah, well, I don't know all the details. I just know that since that day, she's never spoken when you're in the vicinity. The reason why it's gone on so long is probably because of you." After a few minutes of silence, Naruto got to his feet with a bit of effort. "Well, I'm gonna go check on Hinata. Catch you later," he said as he hobbled out of the room, leaving the Uchiha alone.
He waited several more days for Sakura to come visit. Before he knew it, a month seemed to slowly pass in his demented dream world. Odd, since it sincerely felt like a month passed. Then one day, the man that Yuri was with a month ago came, dressed entirely in black with dark shadows under his eyes.
"I hope…you're happy…" The man spoke softly, holding onto his head. "She's gone now."
Sasuke arched an eyebrow. "Who?"
"Who…? My mother, you bastard!!"
"Mother…?" After a few seconds, his eyes widened. This man was Yuri's father, and Yuri's grandmother was… "Sakura?"
"Of course! I kept telling her that if she kept tittering over you, she wouldn't be able to live her golden years in peace! But somehow, you once again managed to make her throw common sense out of the window!!" Sakura's son shouted, balling his hand up into a fist. "Maybe if she weren't worrying about your health, she'd have noticed that she caught a virus, and she wouldn't be…in the ground right now!" He cried, shaking with fury. "This is all your fault! I swear, I hope the rest of what's left of your days are filled with as much pain and misery as hers were!" The man shouted before marching out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
"Sakura…is dead…?" Sasuke repeated, staring down at the ground as his grip on the armrests of his wheelchair loosened. "She's…dead…"
He wasn't sure why, but something about Sakura dying made something happen to Sasuke's health. He found himself getting tired more often and spent his days in bed rather than in a wheelchair. A dull pain would occasionally appear in his chest, accompanied by feelings of guilt. He rarely had the strength to get out of bed or the stomach to eat much. Odd as it sounded, the only things he looked forward to now were when Naruto or Yuri came to visit him.
"Why're you still here?"
"Huh?" Yuri tilted her head to the side slightly, eyes reflecting confusion. "What do you mean?" By now, her new tooth had grown in and she lost that ridiculous lisp.
"Why are you still coming to visit?" Sasuke grumbled, looking at the little girl apathetically. "You came with your grandmother… I've got nothing to give you, so why do you still come?"
"Because… Granny told me to." The dark-haired girl looked down at the ground sadly. "She said to look after you, so you wouldn't be lonely with just Naruto-san. Because she wanted to, um…make sure you knew that whether or not you remembered anything, you'd feel loved. I-I don't know why my daddy hates you or why Granny didn't speak to you, but I think—"
Keiko walked into the room holding a food tray. "Excuse me, little girl. Visiting hours are over. Your father's in the waiting room."
"Okay…" Yuri mumbled before touching Sasuke's hand. "Bye-bye, Sasuke-san!" She said with a smile before walking out of the room.
Sasuke groaned as he blinked his eyes open and saw Sakura sitting next to him. Although she was just as he remembered her, 17 years old, young and bright pink hair. "Sakura?"
"Sasu—" The pink-haired girl stopped speaking and looked down at the floor, her hands on her lap. Her eyes then widened in shock as Sasuke leaned over to hug her tightly.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what I said to you. I didn't mean it. I don't want you to stop speaking to me."
"Sasuke…I…" She wrapped her arms around his body and hugged him back. "Thank you… I love you."
"I…love you, too…"
"Rise and shine, Uchiha-san! I know you haven't been feeling well, but I have something that should cheer…you…up…?" Keiko stopped at Sasuke's bedside and looked down at the elderly man. "Uchiha-san?" She rested her hand against his chest and waited for a heartbeat. After a while, she felt nothing and took her hand off of him. "Oh, no…" She grabbed his covers and pulled them over his head. "Rest in peace, Uchiha-san."
For those who don't get it. Sadly, it wasn't just a bad dream for Sasuke. It all happened, he only apologized to Sakura in his dreams and he was just a senile old man who caused misery for his wife (who forgave him and spent her old age caring for him in his illness despite the impact on her) and his son (who never did forgive him and blames all problems with Sakura on him) and never remembered they, or Yuri, were his family. So…it's kinda messed up, huh? I never meant for it to be anything deep—mainly because I suck at making things deep on purpose. It just came up like this. So, if you're gonna review, try not to be too brutal…