Entitled: The Warning Signs
Length: 2,400 words
Setting: Shrouded in mystery. Until the end. Then it's kind of a "duh."
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and etc.
Notes: Shut up, it's the holidays and everyone's drunk. YOU CANNOT EXPECT ME TO MAKE RATIONAL DECISIONS.
Summary: It's a one-shot revolver. — SasukeSakura
"You ever try this?"
"It's poison. It's my favorite. It kills you real slow. Really. Years and years it takes. You can't taste it. You can't even feel it, mostly."
An offering. Just a little glass vial. Something clear sloshes prettily against the glass wall. He's distracted by the swell of bone at her wrist. That gentle jut of what lay beneath, what would survive the pretty face. The buried bones. "No."
"Really?" Her expression hazes, head tipping, long neck arced and inviting, "Really. Don't wanna die with me?"
"You aren't dying."
She laughs unhappily. Her thumb pops the glass stopper. It clatters onto the floor with a shining clank, glass against wood. And her upper lip leans over the vial's rim. He should move. Instead he watches.
Her mouth closes around the glass neck, teeth holding it in place, and her hands rest lifelessly at her sides. She makes sure he's watching. And then in one lunging motion, her chin cuts upwards and the liquid, clear and colorless, slides down the glass and into her mouth. The sound the glass makes as he rips it from her teeth is an ugly one, harsh, and something runs down her chin, easing between her bared and grinning teeth.
"What was it?" he yells at her, "What'd you take?"
"Water," she gasps, laughing, "It's just water. Life kills me. I don't need anything else."
Obsession. The domination of one's thoughts of feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
When you're in love with someone, when you're really in love with someone, everything else kind of dulls. You don't give up on them. You don't imagine that there is any possibility of failure because you know— you know that you fit. And in your dreams you grow old together and in your dreams you are young together and in your dreams you're just...together. You don't even have to be doing anything. You don't even have to touch them.
But she didn't love him like that.
"So here's the plan," she shut the door behind her, and—locked it. Locked it from the inside. Limp wrists flapped from the wall, bound as they were. She walked over and bent, impossibly strong fingers pulling the shackles apart. He could smell her. Something flowery. Very feminine. He wasn't sure he liked it.
His left hand fell into his lap, leathery white fingers still half-curled. He flexed them painfully. His fingertips felt plugged from the chakra seals, and she was on his other side now, ripping apart the metal. It was strangely quiet outside.
"Ino got me in," she explained, tone light, "She's been working with Ibiki. Mind walker, or something lame like that. Her nick-name, I mean. But anyway. We won't be interrupted."
His right hand came loose, and she stepped back, breathing fast. The skin around her eyes was tight, anxious. He got to his feet warily, keeping their gaze unbroken.
She cleared her throat. "So, the plan. The plan. Right."
She flipped out a dagger from her belt, held it loosely at her side. He glanced at it, ready. Her arm arced back to throw.
He shook out his hands.
And she tossed it, gently, so it fell a good meter away from his feet and skidded across the stone floor to wait. All he had to do was bend and it would be within reach.
"Pick it up," she ordered.
"What're you doing?"
"Pick it up!"
Slowly, ready to move if this turned out to be some sort of trick, he did so. She watched him, mouth grim and eyes bright. She held herself loosely, unprepared for a fight.
"I'm giving you a choice," she said. "I tried to kill you once. I lied to myself. Tricked myself into trying. But we both know I can't do it. I can't kill you. But," her breath, "But I came up with something. A test. So I wanna know, Sasuke. Which one of us are you going to kill?"
She liked saving people. Had that nurturing kind-of personality. And she was good at it; good at re-wiring nerves and setting bones, stitching together muscles and sealing up skin. But sometimes people were just dead. Sometimes people die.
"You need to wake up."
"No, stop it. Listen to me. I know you think that he's in there somewhere. That underneath all the malice and anger, there's some crying little boy. That you need to save him. But you know what, Sakura? You know what? That isn't true."
"Oh, I suppose you know all about this?"
"I know enough to see that you're blind. Listen to me. He isn't a good person. There is no heart of gold. There is no misunderstanding. If I will say anything for him, I will admit that he never lied about who he was. But you did. And you still are."
Concern. That's all it was. Worry. You watch out for your friends. Sakura took a breath.
"You don't know him as well as I do."
"Do you? Do you really know?" Ino challenged, and shook her head, "Honestly? I don't think I need to know much more than to stay away. It isn't your job to save him, Sakura. And even if it was? You need to get it through your head that there's nothing left to save."
"Who says I'm here?"
"You always—always come when I'm weak." His tongue ran once across his upper lip, "Trying to save me?"
"Maybe I'm here to kill you," she said quietly, kneeling, her shins pressed into the dead leaves that covered the forest floor. There was blood splattered across them. She could feel the wetness. Smell it.
He didn't say anything to her provocation. Just looked away.
She felt the air above his wound, and sensed the rip in his stomach, the ugliness of it. A long, difficult procedure. And all she needed to do was slip.
"You're right," she remarked, "I'm not here to kill you. Though, you are dying. I wouldn't have to lift a finger. Just wait."
A muscle in his jaw jumped. She looked down at him, that handsome killer. "You're burning yourself up, Sasuke. Did you ever think about that? Never mind how you hurt everyone else—did you ever think about how you damage yourself?"
After a second he dragged himself up onto one elbow. The pain must have been excruciating. He kept his face turned away. "Go away, Sakura. Before I kill you."
She stayed where she was, expression tainted with sadness, while he struggled to stand. She listened to his wet, dragging breaths.
He took a step. And then another one. And then he made a sort of noise, the kind that a dying animal makes, choked off by pride, and he folded.
"I used to want to punish you. To make you—I don't know. I wanted to make you hurt. To make you sorry. But I'm never going to be able to manage that."
Her back was bare, framed on either side by the lazy fall of luxurious fabric. A dress. She was wearing a dress, and an expensive one judging by how well it fit her. She turned, and he watched the subtle, beautiful roll of muscles below skin as she did so. Her steps clicked twice, and she was taller than he remembered.
"Just a fantasy. I have a few of them. They all end—I don't know. Too soon. I fix you and then I don't really know what to do with you. Make you happy? Does anything make you happy?"
She stopped only inches away. He tried to move. It was like he was dreaming—half-watching his body, half within it. She touched his cheek.
"Well? Aren't you going to say anything?"
He looked at her. Her fingertips stroked down, pensive, resting against the corner of his mouth.
"What if I died?" her brow quirked up, "What would you feel then?"
"Is this a trick?"
"Oh, no. I'm not playing. I used to think I was in love with you, you know. I don't know, maybe I am. It's difficult to explain. But I realized something. Something's changed. And it's, you know, it's you or me, now. Because we're never going to work. No matter how hard I try. I never gave up on you, by the way. Not completely. I always felt like—this couldn't be it. Like there was something else coming. Does that make sense to you?"
He twisted his wrist a little. The dagger reflected the shadows back at him. And still she stood, waiting. Unafraid.
"Just think of it as a test," she said softly, "I die, you die. Something. Something's gotta give. So who do you kill, Sasuke?"
He weighed the weapon against his palm. There was a little blemish at the corner of her mouth. A bruise, or a sore. Ripped into by nervous teeth.
And he took a step towards her.
"Would you die for me?" she screamed, eyes wide, "You almost did, once. Once upon a time. And you didn't even know me. What changed?"
He tried to reach her. To—to do something. Press his hands over her mouth. Choke her. Rip her head back by the hair. Break her heart again and again and again.
"Was it you?" she cried, and it seemed like she was falling away from him, back into the mist, "You weren't born evil. Nobody is born evil. But were you made that way or did you chose it? Well? Which is it?"
He knew this place. The bridge. The taste of ice on the air, and the faintest breath of flowers. The place where he had first died.
He blinked and she was gone. He squinted. The mist moved.
"Where are you?" he shouted, angry and a little bit afraid, turning feverishly on the spot, scanning, waiting. A light, feminine hand brushed through his hair. Wistful.
"You know where to find me. "
She didn't really smile.
"No hesitation?" she laughed, and took a step of her own, meeting him. Rushing him. Caging him into his decision. "But I guess there wouldn't be. There are things that are bigger than me. Things you care more about." she stopped for a moment, without hesitance, staring down into him, into all the things he kept secret and close, "But not for me. Nothing is more important to me than you are. How very fatalistic."
His grip tightened. She reached down and took his wrist, raised his hand so the edge of the blade lay length-wise against her collar.
"I have a confession," she murmured. He stayed frozen. Different. This was different. It wasn't the same as killing someone who had tried to kill him first.
He wet his lips.
"I knew you'd chose me," she said, almost lightly. But her eyes burdened him with her disappointments. "I mean, you can't kill yourself if you're already dead."
"I can't save you," she murmured. Something was leaking from her mouth. She swiped at it absently with the back of her hand. "You're a ghost. You've been dead for a very long time now."
She'd smudged her lipstick. It was the exact color of her dress. He focused in on this imperfection, this—blemish. A bruise or a sore left by nervous teeth. When she sighed, her breath faded like smoke on the air. He could hear the water. He could smell the mist.
"I can't fix the dead," she whispered. He backed away from her, sloshing through the river. There was a dagger in one hand.
"What'd you do?" he yelled, and stumbled, cutting his hand open in the process. It ran with redness. He clutched at it, snarling, "Genjutsu?"
"You are in there somewhere, aren't you?" she asked, ignoring him, ignoring his wound. "You're afraid, so you must feel something, right?"
He looked up from his hand to answer her, only to find her gone. He spun, breathing down the mist, eyes wide. After a minute he threw down the dagger, kicking it downstream.
"Where are you?" he hissed, and on his next turn found her standing there, watching him sadly. She rose up, and he couldn't move again, could only watch from some distant place as she kissed his forehead, the place his mother used to kiss.
She pulled away.
"Wake up," she whispered.
Sasuke sat up, the leaves beneath him rustling as he did. There was a dull ache in his abdomen, and a gleaming scar waiting for his inspection. The forest made quiet noises around him.
And her perfume lingered, like some half-remembered dream, sticky on the air.