Author's note. Hello, fanfiction readers. I'm back with another story. I've written this in its entirety; updates will be weekly. The whole thing is about 80,000 words. I started writing this because I couldn't find a story exactly with this idea, so I just decided to write it myself. I hope someone enjoys reading this because I've kind of enjoyed writing all of it. :)

First chapter isn't really like all the others. This is sort of a prologue; emphasis on Sakura's life. (As a side note, I imagine Sakura to be between twenty-two and twenty-five. But the age isn't strictly necessary.)

This DISCLAIMER applies to the chapter below and all others: I'm sure you're all surprised, but I don't actually own Naruto.


by danceswithsunflowers

Sakura sighed. Walking down another hallway, she took a left into the lobby of the hospital and shrugged off her lab coat. The receptionist at the front desk smiled and waved goodbye; people loitered in the waiting room across the hall; everything smelt just as strongly like wounds and medicine as always.

The thought made Sakura smile. Death was never "easy," never "clean." With blood came wraps, knives, stitches, and chemicals.

Her boots echoed on the steps outside the hospital, and the sun hid behind the forest horizon with its rosy color. Sunset, Sakura thought. When was the last time she had gotten off work this early? She wasn't used to walking through the paths of Konoha with people. The people she interacted with nowadays were the ones dying, the ones bleeding and needing help. It was almost a stab to her profession to see these villagers alive and well, to see people who didn't need her or anyone else to mop up their blood and package them in the morgue.

Sakura shook her head. It was hard not to be morbid when she smelled like death.

A few nodded her way, remembering her face telling them so-and-so was fine and so-and-so was recovering. She used to remember all her patient's names. They were important to her; they were what made her remember she was worth something. Now after so very many faces, not everyone meant something. Most faded into the background, like she did.

Taking a right, Sakura caught sight of her apartment a block away and became intensely aware of the blood in her hair and the blood under her nails.

Marks, blood—those were things she knew.

Sakura jogged up the stairs and took the fire escape up to her apartment, swinging in the window. She threw her coat into the sink and filled it up with hot water. Opening the refrigerator door, she snatched out a lemon and squeezed it over the sink. Tangy. Sour. Bitter. The scent and taste seemed like it stayed on her hands for days. She turned off the tap and went to her room, slipping off her skirt and zipping her shirt off. Throwing another shirt over her head, she toed off her boots and left them laying by her bed.

She plopped onto her bed. And she lay down, some of the blood on her arms and her hands (blood on her hands) still warm and wet. She could just remember how it used to pulse in someone else. It stained her sheets.

Sakura closed her eyes and pulled the covers up to her waist. It didn't matter. She'd have to wash all her clothes, anyway.

She used to think things would be okay. That it wouldn't be perfect, but that it would still be okay. Everything would go back to some sort of normal. Everyone would be there. But somehow, someone wasn't good enough and someone wasn't strong enough and someone didn't do enough for things... to be okay. Someone, despite all her efforts, still managed to lose...

Maybe it was fit to just stop there, Sakura mused to herself.