Okay, so before I get started on this story, I would like to say to all of the people who are still waiting on my unfinished stories. It is true that I've been having trouble writing my stories, but I like to write whatever comes to mind and this current story has taken priority. Once I get it out of my system, I'll return to writing my other fics.
In this fic, it will consist of Sasuke and Sakura; Naruto and Hinata; and other couples in the series. Seeing as how I can only list two people that are mostly involved in the story, that's not going to be the case here. I'm going to start out with SasuSaku, but deal with me if the next chapter is primarily focused on NaruHina. The other couples I mentioned won't have their own chapter to themselves (if I can help it) but you'll probably see some fluff in the background of the story.
Now, let me set the scene for you. Five years have passed since the end of the Fourth Shinobi War, and though it had left many faces and minds scarred, everything was starting to return to normal. Naruto had finally gained the respect he deserved not only from his village but from other villages as well. Madara had gone missing before being captured and Kabuto had broken from his cell six months after being caught. Sasuke was badly injured during his final battle with Naruto and still remains in a coma in the intensive care unit of Konoha's hospital. Naruto was also injured during the battle, costing him three years of his life for physical therapy so that he could still be a ninja, and Sakura couldn't help but to stay at Sasuke's side day in and day out. She had also made sure not to neglect Naruto, though a certain ninja had achieved such praise and popularity that he wasn't ever alone. And though the five great nations seemed to be under a good alliance, the facade wouldn't last long—causing ties between the nations to diminish with the exception of Suna and Konoha.
"..." means that they're talking.
'…' or Thought means that they're thinking.
So, with that all said and done, let the story commence!
Petals Fall like Tears
"You're growing out your hair again?" Ino asked as she made the usual rounds around the hospital with Sakura. The conversation hadn't been anything but small talk until Ino hit the obvious change in her senpai. "You do know that you're wasting your time, right?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." But of course Sakura knew all too well what Ino was talking about. Since Sasuke had been admitted into the hospital, she was there every night and day checking his vitals or changing his bandages, though all of his wounds were healed by now. Every day, she hoped that he would wake up and finally notice her, though she knew that he did wake up he would either be sent to jail or executed.
"Yo, earth to Sakura! Have you been listening?" Ino had stopped to turn around and look at her. She had her hands on her hips and a very frightening expression across her face.
Sakura simply sighed. Lately, she had been losing herself to her thoughts and though she didn't mind the alone time, she could tell that it was starting to bother her friends. "I'm sorry, Ino. What did you say?"
"I said give up on him. He's better off dead." She crossed her arms over her chest. Sakura knew that Ino didn't mean the words she had just said, but it was something she had been telling herself since he'd arrived at the hospital because whether he woke up or not the outcome was still the same. It was better to get used to the truth before you had to face it.
"You don't mean that."
"Of course I mean that, Sakura. When haven't I meant what I said?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?" Sakura tried to joke. It was easier to deal with her pain with laughter than actually facing it, but she knew that she would face it one day. Hell, if it wasn't for Tsunade-sama, Sasuke would've been executed instead of admitted to the hospital—which reminded her that she needed to thank the woman.
Not wanting to hear Ino—of all people—to lecture her, Sakura walked right passed her and continued through her daily routine. She changed the bandages of the wounded and gave medicine to the ill, but not a single second went by that stopped her from thinking about the room at the end of the hall. Every time she got close to his door, her heart would start racing and her pulse would start to beat in her ears. She was actually a bit relieved that he wasn't awake to see her acting like a child again, like all those years ago, because she knew that she had matured but was afraid that he didn't know it yet. If she was going to make a good impression on the man, she wouldn't want it to be like the last one.
Without even realizing it, it was time to attend to Sasuke. Since he was in a coma, she had to check on him every few hours everyday. She had to stretch his legs and arms for him so that the muscle wouldn't deteriorate and also to change his I.V and feed him. He was unconscious so she could actually feed him, but she could give him the nutrients that his body needed through a needle.
She slowly opened the door to his room and peeked inside. Sometimes there would be a sleeping Naruto in a chair by his side, and though Sasuke's health was important, she didn't want to wake up the savior of their village. Sakura remembered all those years ago when Naruto was such a pest, but reflecting on those moments made her feel awful. She was so mean to him and he didn't deserve that treatment, but now he had gained the trust and respect that he had always wanted—though she knew that he still wanted something that only she could give him.
Before the war had started, she told Naruto that she loved him for the sake of ending his pursuit of Sasuke and though he was eager to accept it, he had seen through her facade. It wasn't that she didn't mean what she said, it's that her love for him wasn't on the same level as the love she felt for Sasuke. He was more like her little brother and nothing would change that, but that doesn't stop Naruto from still pestering her.
Today, Sasuke's room was empty except for the small vase of lilies on his bedside table. The soft beeps of the machines were the only sounds in the room which gave Sakura a chill that ran all the way up her spine. Immediately, she rushed to the windows and threw them open to let the soft summer breeze through and circulate the stale air that had been cooped up since last night. The laughter of children and the tweeting of birds seeped into the room, bringing much wanted life into the otherwise dead room.
Not dead, she thought. "He's not dead." She muttered to herself. Thinking such things would only lead down the road to truth, and that was not something she wanted to come true. "Hello, Sasuke. I'm back."
Sakura had read once that coma patients could still hear and understand what's said around them, so everyday she would enter his room and tell her about her day. Sometimes she would just let the silence of the room absorb her and her thoughts, and other times she would tell him all about her dreams or hopes. It felt that he was the only one who would listen to her when it came to deep feelings, but that was only because he didn't have a choice to talk back. One dream that she had involved Sasuke waking from his coma during the middle of one of her usual conversations and they would just talk. Then talking would lead to confessions and confessions would leave to wild and passionate—
She had lost herself in one of her daydreams again, so she stole herself away from the window to take a seat by Sasuke's side. Sakura had performed all that was necessary for now and was going to fit herself down in her other daily routine. "I had another dream last night." She began.
Sakura took hold of his hand as she explained all about her dream to the sleeping man. Occasionally, she would smile at him if something she said seemed funny to her or a tear would escape if something she said was saddening. Hours had gone by since the time she sat down to tell her story. The sun was now casting deep shadows across Sasuke's room, sending the usual whiteness into blazing shades of oranges. It wasn't until the sun had finally set that she realized how much time she had wasted at the hospital once again.
"Oh my, will you look outside? It's gotten so dark." She changed his I.V once more before leaving his room. As she was about to close the door, she looked back and whispered, "Don't worry. I'll be back tomorrow."
The hospital was nearly cleaned out of people, except all who were already admitted. The night staff was always left nearly empty handed but not much danger occurred at night, so the patients were still left in good care. The nurse at the front desk wished her a good night on her way out, and Sakura started to make her way home before being ambushed by a familiar face.
"Sakura-san, headin' home so soon?"
"Hello, Naruto. Yeah, I just got done my shift." She lied. Her shift had ended hours ago, but she didn't want to tell him that she'd been spending the whole day with Sasuke again.
"You wanna get something to eat with the rest of us?" Naruto gestured to Kiba, Shikamaru, Ino, Sai, and Hinata.
She was going to decline his offer, but her stomach had betrayed her by growling at this time. Naruto chuckled and took that as an invitation. He grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her toward the gang that took their presence as a yes and started to proceed toward the usual restaurant. Sakura didn't protest his efforts since she was exhausted, but also because she tried to not push his kindness away. It was the least she could do, though it felt more out of pity. Whenever she tried to do something right, it would always feel wrong.
The gang had found a booth big enough for their party, and as soon as they sat down, the stories of the day's events started to pour from everyone. As conversation broke out, Sakura couldn't help but notice how closely Ino was sitting next to Sai and a particular conversation that followed the same observation.
"So Ino, you're getting awfully cozy with Sai there." Kiba teased.
"A-And what's it to y-you?" Ino stuttered as a blush started to rise to her cheeks.
"Are you running a fever?" Sai pressed his hand to Ino's and she smacked it away, quickly running the same hand through her hair nervously.
"I'm fine. Don't touch me, and Kiba," she glared at him, "shut it."
"Ooohoo, feisty." He flashed her a grin that looked more animalistic than normal.
"Sakura, you're growing your hair out?" Hinata piped up over all of the commotion to get her attention.
Sakura simply nodded. She had noticed that the Hyuuga had also changed since the end of the war. She was more social with everyone and even gained another rank. Hinata had also started to become close to Sakura, hoping that Naruto would notice her a little more, and though it hasn't quite shown, she knew that the Hyuuga wanted more female company besides training day in and day out with her father. Plus, her company was also good for Sakura since her female companions lacked in numbers and it was good to spend some time with women instead of men all day.
"It looks nice," Naruto commented—causing Hinata to go silent once again. Though those two sat right next to each other, it was as if Hinata didn't exist.
"Thank you, Naruto." She was too exhausted to push him away. Besides, accepting a compliment from a friend once in a while was okay.
"I say she should cut it." Ino butted in.
"And why's that?" Shikamaru finally took interest in what was going on.
"Because don't you see what it's doing to her?"
"It? Do you mean her hair?" Kiba asked, genuinely asking.
"Of course I mean her hair, you moron." Ino sighed. "When we were growing up, she grew her hair out and became a useless shinobi. As soon as she cut it, that significance seemed to transform her to perform better. Now that she's grown it out again, she's less enthusiastic and barely takes on any missions. If she wasn't working at the hospital, I would really start to worry about how she was making any income at all."
"Hair doesn't control my life, Ino. And by the way, I've been a bit too busy lately to take on any missions; so, if I was worrying you too much, I'm sorry. A grown woman can have more important problems than her hair." Sakura didn't know what had gotten into her. The words seemed to have rushed out before any second thought, but she didn't care. She was tired of everyone worrying about her. Her recent mood swing was her problem to deal with alone, and no one needed to waste any of their time caring for her.
Sakura looked around the table to see five stunned faces—all except Sai who seemed to wear the same emotionless mask as always. The food had arrived then and her sudden outburst seemed to have gotten rid of her interest in a meal, so she simply picked at it before shoving it aside. Both Naruto and Kiba didn't let the sudden tension ruin their appetite as the dug into their meals, but Ino shied away to the far corner of the booth. Hinata simply picked at her rice and some chicken while casting glances toward Naruto and his obnoxious eating habits, and Shikamaru kept a close eye on Sakura while taking in proper portions of his own food. Sai seemed oblivious to all of this.
As soon as she had enough of the awkward silence, Sakura decided to leave. She gave Hinata her share of what she owed and quickly left the restaurant. Though she wanted to get home as quickly as possible, her wish was soon discarded when she heard her name being called.
"Sakura! Wait up!"
When she turned around, she saw Shikamaru running to catch up with her. If he really wanted to catch up to me, he'd run a bit faster, she thought. It was true, though, because after all he was a shinobi.
"Shikamaru, I'm really tired, so if you have something to te—"
"That was the most energy you've used in a long time." He told her breathlessly. "I mean—Ino's sorry and she didn't mean what she said. She—of all people—knows best with what you're going through."
"It doesn't feel like that." Sakura muttered.
"But that's Ino for ya. She uses her harshness to tell you straightforward. Personally, I find it all troublesome, but what can you do?" He shrugged.
"Is that really why you came all the way out here?"
"Nah," he ran a hand through his hair, "just didn't want you walking home alone at this hour."
"That's kind of you, but I can handle myself. I'm still a shinobi after all." She tried to smile, hoping that he'd go away, but Shikamaru had a sort of stubbornness that seemed to mirror his mother's. "Fine. You can walk me home."
Sakura didn't even wait for him to reply before starting down the street again. The only way that she knew he was right behind her was the soft crunch of dirt underneath his feet. They were a couple of blocks away from the restaurant before Shikamaru started up the conversation again.
"There are ninja following us." He whispered under his breath. "Could you sense them?"
Honestly, she couldn't. Either they were really well at disguising their chakra or her friends were right. Sakura hadn't taken on a mission in six months, and now she was starting to realize that the lack of missions and training was starting to take effect. Hopefully, if this was to lead into conflict, her skills wouldn't be rusty like her senses.
"No," she answered.
He gave a slight nod in acknowledgment, "Follow me."
Without another word, he took off at nearly his top speed while Sakura tried to keep up. Her fear was realized as she struggled to keep her eyes on Shikamaru. Though maybe her actual skills weren't as bad as she thought. At the moment, she wasn't wearing her normal clothes so she was restricted to the tight material of her nurse's outfit and the poor condition of her shoes. Until she actually engaged in physical combat, she wouldn't truly know if she would have to schedule in some training time.
They were on the outskirts of town, now, and finally she was starting to sense the other shinobi's presence. There was only two of them and their current chakra levels were nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they felt more like Genin than anything threatening. The two groups met in a small clearing right outside of the village limits, though Shikamaru and Sakura were standing in the clearing while the other two ninja were hiding in the trees. Their element of surprise was already broken so there wasn't really any reason to hide.
"Show yourselves." Shikamaru demanded. It was times like these that reminded Sakura the reason why Shikamaru was given the title of Jounin He could be pretty intimidating when he wanted to be.
The shinobi complied to his demand and brought themselves forth. They were dressed in traditional black clothing with masks to hide their identity, so that no one could tell if they were male or female. Though her skills were fading, Sakura still had a trick or two up her sleeve. From the flow of chakra that they were letting loose, she knew that the one on the right was female and the one on the left was male because men tended to have wider chakra points while female shinobi had thinner points for easier control.
"State your business." He used his same demanding voice.
"The one called Uchiha." Said the female voice.
"We've come for him." The male finished.
Having them speak had confirmed Sakura's assumptions and proved that she wasn't that rusty. "What do you want with Sasuke?" She asked, but all she got was silence in return. "If you've come for revenge, you can forget about it. I'll just have to handle you like the last dozen assassins."
"No, let us speak with your Hokage." The woman demanded.
"Our Hokage doesn't want to speak with likes of you." Sakura said. Her anger was returning.
"We bring news of a cure." The male chimed.
And as quickly as her anger came, it vanished into thin air. After five years of waiting for Sasuke to wake up, someone was finally going to make her dreams come true. But that was all too convenient for her to handle. She kept thinking that this was a trap.
Shikamaru took notice of Sakura's hesitation and knew that she was only thinking of the negatives. He couldn't believe how much emotion Sakura was putting forth tonight and all over the subject of Uchiha Sasuke. Well, if she wasn't going to believe them, then he would. They bring forth a cure for a lost friend, and of course he would do everything in his power to help even if it was very bothersome.
"Fine, but remove your masks, state your name, and business." He caved in, but his voice didn't show it.
The masked figures agreed to his terms and reveled their faces. The woman had snow white hair that pinned up to mask its true length. Her dazzling violet eyes were visible even from the distance that they put themselves—giving her a mystical look about her that entranced even Sakura. The man was the exact opposite of the woman as he had black hair that camouflaged with the night sky and his eyes were as bright and golden as the stars above. The man was also taller than the woman, but from the earlier authoritative sound from the woman's voice, it appeared that she was in charge and the man would be more docile.
"I'm Sintessa Mai." The woman piped up.
"And I'm Katorabe Ziom."
"We come from a small village west from here. Tsunade-sama has requested my clan's specialty in order to revive Uchiha Sasuke. Though my lady is very skilled in medicine, there is one thing that she couldn't do because of her heritage so therefore she has requested us." Mai took a step forward. "I apologize on behalf of my entire clan for the delay in our response, but because of the war...Our village was caught in the middle of it all and experienced too many casualties to count. It has taken us awhile to even start from scratch."
"I'm so sorry." Sakura muttered.
"Never mind that." Ziom had closed the large gap between the two groups with Mai following his lead. "There is a patient that needs to be attended to. Please, take us to Tsunade-sama." He urged.
"R-Right," Sakura didn't even wait for Shikamaru's opinion as she headed back into the village. She could sense his chakra bringing up the rear right behind Mai, and so she pushed herself as fast as she could go.
Having the streets deserted at this time of night was perfect so that there would be no need of delay to get to Tsunade's office. She knew that her Lady wasn't going to be in at this hour—unless she was behind on her paperwork again—but there was a way to page her. Plus, if it came to paging her, she wouldn't be held at fault for waking her because she had requested these people in the first place.
They reached the Hokage's building in no time, and thankfully, the lights were on. Instead of using stairs like normal people, Sakura jumped through one of the already open windows, which was more like something Naruto would do. This act was soon followed by three more people and it had startled an already drowsy Tsunade.
"What in the blazes? Sakura, what are you doing here at this hour?" She demanded.
A bit out of breath from lack of training, Sakura responded, "Tsunade-sama, these ninja say that they have business with you."
"Hokage-sama, I am Sintessa Mai from Medikusu Village and you have requested our medical services nearly five years ago. On behalf of my entire village and clan, I am sincerely sorry for the long delay, but I believe that our village elder has sent you a message explaining why." Mai spoke up as the one in charge of their mission.
"Ah, yes. Your elder said you'd be arriving in a couple of days." Tsunade bit down on her thumb as she lost herself in thought. "Sakura, go down to the hospital and prepare our patient. I'm sure these two have told you who that is."
"Right." Sakura exited the way she entered and headed for the hospital without another glance back.
Her heart was racing in her chest as the night wind whipped her hair about while moving from rooftop to rooftop. She didn't want to be uncivilized so she entered the hospital through the main entrance but disregarded the nurse at the check in station. To her, there was only one thing on her mind and that was at the end of the next hall. Though she knew her speed could continue, her legs seemed to slow down the closer she got to his room and her breathing started to pick up. She had her hand on the knob of his door and hesitated. What if he wakes up and hasn't changed at all? she thought.
Though her mind was thinking negatively, she knew in her heart that she would never truly know if she didn't see him now. Hopefully, her conversations had gotten through his dreams. She lightly opened his door and saw that his room was completely covered by the darkness of night. Only a sliver of moonlight seeped through the windows as the clouds cleared. The sliver was cast over his face, making his skin look awfully pale in the light.
"Sasuke, it's me." She whispered, hoping to get one last conversation in before he woke up and would leave her forever. "You're going to finally wake up today, so I just wanted some alone time before that happened."
The chair she had sat in earlier was still pulled up by his bedside, so she decided to sit down. It was going to feel like forever until the shinobi came, so why not make herself comfortable? Sakura sat down and brushed his hair off his forehead. She realized that not only has her hair grown, but so has his and he needed a haircut badly. This thought brought a smile to her face.
"I don't think we'll ever have a chance like this again. You know, it's been nice talking to you like this without any interruption. You've helped me clear my mind for these past five years. And not only that, but you've helped me come to an important realization." She paused as a painful memory came back to her. "I know I've told you this in the past, but things have changed since then. Well, except for one thing." She smiled.
It was on a night like this that Sasuke had left the village. She had caught up to him before he left, and at the time, she didn't know what to do in order to make him stay—though nothing would really make him stay. But she had to try. So, she told him how much he meant to her and that she loved him, but that still wasn't good enough. Sakura had tried to convince herself that he was too stuck on revenge that he might've not heard her clear enough, so she was going to hope that this was the right time.
"Sasuke," she could feel a sob start to erupt in her chest as it tried to claw its way out of her, "I love you. I love you so much that it hurts me and all of our friends. Everyday I hope that you'd wake up and greet me with open arms, but I know that that's never going to happen. All of this waiting has caused me to close myself off from our friends, and now I don't think they'll ever forgive me. After you're gone, I don't know what I'll do."
Tears started to make trails down her cheeks as she broke off into sobs. Thankfully, he wasn't awake to see her like this because this was a sign of weakness. She had gotten rid of her weakness a long time ago, and now it was coming back to haunt her. Sakura knew she was a strong kunoichi and she also knew that Sasuke didn't know that. He hadn't been there to see her grow out of her shell, and that was the one thing she wanted him to see from her; how much she had changed.
"I'm not weak, just so you know, but I am still a woman. Everyday we have to be strong so that no one can see us cry, but sometimes it's so hard to hold in so many emotions. And lately, I've been wanting to empty my bottle of emotions but I didn't know how, where, or when to do it. So, now the bottle has exploded without my input. Please understand that I am strong." She tightened her grip on his hand and with her free hand wiped away her falling tears.
As hard as she tried, she couldn't wipe away the tears fast enough. A couple of droplets had fallen onto his face, ran off his cheeks, and fallen onto his pillow. She didn't want him to see her crying—though he was still unconscious—so she placed her head on his chest and buried her face with her arms. The soft rise and fall of his breathing was enough to silent her sobs into little gasps of air. Time seemed to slow down as she felt the exhaustion of the day start to wear on her. Now the room was filled with nothing but silence and the soft hum of the machines.
She didn't lift her head because she knew that it was Shikamaru waiting in the doorway. It was time to leave him and perhaps never see him again. Giving one last sigh, she left a kiss on Sasuke's forehead and turned around, ready to leave. As soon as she turned around, though, she saw that there was no one there. She looked all around the room and saw that it was still empty except for her and Sasuke.
She turned back around to see Sasuke still laying in bed, but there was something different about him. His eyes were half open and he looked dazed. He turned his head so that he was looking toward the door and her. Sakura was frozen in place and it was as if time had stopped altogether.
"Sas...uke...kun?" Being completely stunned, she couldn't stand any longer and ended up falling back down into her chair.
He slowly moved to prop himself up on one arm. "What am I...doing here?"
"Y-You don't remember anything?" Her heart had dropped a few flights, but it didn't stop its racing pulse.
Sasuke closed his eyes in concentration. "Naruto and I...fought, right?"
"Who won?" His eyes were like two dark stones of coal as they burned their way into Sakura's emerald green ones.
She knew the outcome, but she couldn't say who won or lost because both Naruto and Sasuke had ended up in comas—though Naruto's only lasted a few days. If she had to say that someone won, it would be Naruto because he had gotten the one person, who meant a great deal to him, back and earned the respect of everyone around him while Sasuke had lost his consciousness for five years.
"Neither of you won."
"What do you mean?"
"Both you and Naruto lost consciousness with the last blow." She explained. Sakura didn't want him to ask the next obvious question.
Sasuke looked around the room and noticed that he was all alone. "Then where is he?"
Involuntarily, she winced at the question. "He's healed."
He looked at himself and saw that there were no bandages on him, but there were machines still hooked up to him. "And so am I. How long have I been out?"
She didn't want to tell him, but he was going to find out sooner or later. So why not tell him sooner than later? "You've been unconscious...for five years."
Okay, I just wanted to clear something up. There will not be any ShikaSaku love. He had just sensed the ninjas before her and was worried that because of her lack of missions and training she wouldn't be able to recognize them before it was too late. So, he decided to make sure that she would get home safely, though she never got home at all.
I hope you guys enjoy my story so far and please review!