War drums woke her, playing so fast that the beats melded together and sang out like thunder, a call to battle that rang through the fabric walls and buried its vibrations in her bones.
Sakura opened her eyes, her heart racing to the rhythm of the great drum's call.
Konoha was marching to war. This was the Battle Hymn of the Trees, the anthem of Konoha. She had never heard it before because the song was reserved for the march to battle, but Sakura knew it like she knew her name—this song could be nothing else.
"Sakura!" Naruto called, hurrying toward her bed. "You're awake!"
She struggled to sit up and nodded, searching for Sasuke. He was on her other side, exactly as he should be.
"Help me up?" she asked hoarsely, holding her hands out to Naruto. There were scorch marks and missing beds further down the line. Last night had not been a dream.
Naruto beamed and bounded toward her, lifting Sakura to her feet. Her shoulders throbbed, but offered no other protest. They were wrapped in bandages and hard to move.
She wobbled, then grabbed the IV pole for balance. They'd stuck another needle and tube in her, taped to her other hand this time. Her left was wrapped in yet more bandages.
"Sasuke!" Sakura said, waving him closer. "Come here!"
He scowled, but came closer. "What?"
"Have you found Kakashi yet?"
"Is he missing?" Sasuke asked. The three of them huddled together, close enough to speak without yelling.
"Did they let you see him?"
Naruto tugged on her sleeve. "When I asked they said he was resting."
The drums slowed and the great drum pounded out a steady rhythm, hundreds of voices rising into song.
Sakura shivered, her hair standing on end. It was unearthly. Kakashi sure as hell wasn't resting through this. "As if he could right now."
"Do you think this is the Battle Hymn?" Sasuke asked. His eyes shone and sparkled in the fabric-filtered sunlight.
Her entire body sang with the glory of it. "What else could it be?" she answered.
"The what?" Naruto cut in.
"We'll explain later," Sakura said. She checked for guards but the tent was almost empty, except for a few patients. "Come on. This is our best opportunity to find him."
"Should we? What if he's..." Sasuke shook his head. "There must be a reason they won't let us see him."
"Because they're stupid?" Naruto suggested, shoving Sasuke. "Come on, Sakura's right! We've got to find him."
Sakura grinned. "Damn straight!"
"I don't think—"
"Come on! They don't even have anyone in here to stop us," Sakura wheedled. She'd do it by herself, but what if someone tried to kidnap Sasuke while she was gone? She needed to keep him close.
"That's practically giving us permission," Naruto pointed out, bouncing on his toes. "Come on!"
"Fine." Sauke crossed his arms over his chest. "But I'm only coming to keep you out of trouble."
Sakura beamed, peeling the tape from her wrist and pulling out the needle. It only bled a little. She tied the tubing to the top of the pole so it wouldn't drip and grabbed her teammates' wrists, dragging them deeper into the hospital wing. There were hundreds of beds to check. "Let's go!"
As it turned out, Kakashi was easy to find. He'd been at the very end of the hall, tucked under white sheets, tubes, and wires. He had more stuff strapped to him than anyone else in the wing, but it didn't seem to be helping at all. He looked horrible.
Naruto's hand clutched hers. "Is he dead?" he whispered, barely audible under the drumbeat.
Sasuke reached around her and poked him, hard. "If he was dead he wouldn't be in a bed, doofus."
It wasn't fair. It just wasn't. He was supposed to be awake and reading his stupid book. Kakashi would see them coming and he'd say something, anything, but it would make her feel better, less hollow.
He was supposed to tell her what to do now that they were safe. Maybe even tell her who Konoha was fighting, because she still didn't have a clue what this war was about.
The war drums pounded, shaking the ground. Legend said the song had begun during the first war with Earth Country, as a way to disorient the ninja hiding underground.
"Why isn't he awake then?" Naruto shot back, rubbing his arm. "The drums could wake the dead!"
"Maybe they gave him drugs or something," Sasuke sniped.
His skin was colorless, like he'd been cut from paper.
Sakura bit her lip, pressing down until the biggest cracks split and bled. He'd been sick and unresponsive for months. Or weeks. She didn't really trust her sense of time if it was only October.
"Why would they give him drugs?"
"Because he's sick, duh," Sasuke said, rolling his eyes.
She'd fed him. Given him water. Kept him clean—he'd usually roused enough to use the bucket if she dragged it over, but sometimes he hadn't. Sakura grimaced and pushed the memories away. She was never going to let anyone know about that. Ever. Planned to forget about it as quickly as possible.
Naruto stared at Kakashi, rubbing his fingers over his chin. "If he's sick...why don't they fix him?"
It hadn't really worked. Kakashi had just gotten more tired, less likely to wake up, no matter how hard she tried to take care of him. Sakura had just...let herself believe. Let herself imagine that once she got him home, someone would wave their hand and presto, he'd be better.
"Maybe he just needs rest," Sasuke suggested.
Sakura's eyes prickled, threatening her with yet more tears. Wasn't the hard part supposed to be over? Why hadn't they fixed him?
"But he got lots of rest when we were down there. If he needed rest, he'd be better by now," Naruto said. His voice cracked.
"He wasn't—he was awake yesterday," she said. It didn't make sense. When she'd taken the chains off, Kakashi had looked so much more alive.
He hadn't woken, though.
"Kakashi woke up most days, right?" Naruto asked. "Why wouldn't he...?"
She shook her head. "No, he didn't." Sakura didn't look at her teammates. "Kakashi woke, like, once in a blue moon."
"But he..." Naruto trailed off. She'd confused him. He hadn't figured it out yet.
"Sakura?" Sasuke's fingers tightened around her palm. "All those times when you said he told you to tell us stuff—did he say anyof it? Was he ever awake?"
"Of course he was!" Naruto jumped to her defence. "Right, Sakura?"
She sniffed, her nose running. "I thought you were going to get yourselves killed, trying to escape," she said, speaking to both of them. "As it turns out, though, it wasn't that hard." A tear dripped down her cheek for the wasted opportunities when she'd said 'don't', the times when she'd said, 'Kakashi says.'
"He wasn't waking up. He just wasn't. And then you tried to run, Naruto, and they kept hitting you and hitting you! I just couldn't stand it." They could have escaped at anytime. It had been easy. "We could have escaped so much sooner. I'm so sorry."
Naruto hugged her, awkward and too hard, like he'd never gotten the hang of hugs. "When I tried, there were, like, thirty guards upstairs. We never would have made it."
Sasuke grunted, but laced his fingers between hers. "He probably would have gotten himself killed if you hadn't. Naruto's an idiot."
"You're an idiot, idiot!" Naruto barked back, right in her ear.
She disentangled herself and left them to fight, her stomach rolling. Kakashi looked dead.
"The numbers don't lie, dead last."
The drums rolled, rising thunder. Someone started the solo, a deep baritone that matched the drums.
"Those tests were stupid!" Naruto protested. "Who needs to know that stuff?"
"We bring death!" The chorus howled.
She knelt by Kakashi's bed, the strength that had kept her going draining out.
"Oh, I don't know. Ninja?" Sasuke suggested. He was being mean, Sakura thought. She should stop him.
"To those that oppose us!"
She leaned forward, resting her forehead against the cool metal bars of the bed frame. She was tired.
"We bring life!"
She couldn't even see if he was breathing. What if the medics had gone off to sing and drum and forgotten him, and Kakashi had died? What if this was just his body?
"To those we love!"
Sakura pressed two fingers against his wrist, sneaking them through the maze of tubes and wires. His pulse was hard to find, weak and fast.
"Is he okay?" Naruto asked.
She nodded, wiping her face on her sleeve. Kakashi wasn't hot, wasn't cold. His fever had broken. "He's alive," she said.
Sasuke and Naruto were quiet, meaning that they were getting upset. She needed to take them away. Let Kakashi rest.
The drums were gone. Quieted. People were returning, bustling through the hallway with clipboards and carts and trays. Sakura watched, disinterested. Naruto and Sasuke squabbled beside her, reassuringly present, annoyingly loud.
Her shoulders ached and hurt when she tried to move, so Sakura didn't. It was easier not to, anyway.
She buried her head in the pillow, hoping he'd just go away. Hadn't she done enough yet?
"You're requested in the interrogation tent for debriefing."
Damn it. Sakura sighed and rolled onto her back. Yep. It was an ANBU. He was wearing a cat mask with little pointed ears. She wondered if the other ANBU made fun of him for it. He looks dumb, she thought spitefully.
"Can you walk?"
Sakura sighed again. "Yes," she said. "Are Sasuke and Naruto coming with me?"
She felt a twinge of worry. "Will someone be guarding them?" What if someone came after Sasuke? Or Naruto?
"We don't need to be guarded!" Naruto protested. "Right Sasuke?"
"Hn," Sasuke grunted, shutting up as soon as he had to talk to someone other than Naruto.
"Yes you do," Sakura replied, too busy watching the ANBU for hints of body language to look at them.
"Why would they need to be guarded?" The ANBU was like a brick wall. Not a single hint of anything.
"Because the medic who was working for Orochimaru—" she sounded the name out carefully, exactly as Itachi had said it, "—might not have been working alone."
"The what?" Did she say brick wall? Sakura meant scary wall. Holy shit, how did that stupid mask look so terrifying?
"The guy?" she offered, staring into the black eye holes. "From last night? A crazy medic tried to kidnap Sasuke, and then there was a lot of burning things...he stabbed me?"
"You were awake during the fire?"
"Someone tried to kidnap me?" Sasuke asked.
"Yes?" Sakura sat very still, hoping the scary ANBU would either stop being so scary or go away.
"Get up. You're going to interrogation." When she hesitated, he picked her up.
Sakura yelped, punching at the scary mask. He moved and she missed. The ANBU stared at her.
"I can walk," she whispered, too scared to look away. Her heart fluttered like a frightened rabbit's.
Cats ate rabbits. Oh gods, she was going to die—wait, no, he was putting her down.
Sakura smoothed the wrinkles in the patient's gown someone had dressed her in. It had ducks on it. Her neighbour's cat had killed a duck once.
"Will someone be watching over Sasuke and Naruto?" she asked again, her voice squeaking a tiny bit.
"Yes. Walk." The scary dwindled until he was just an ANBU in a silly mask again.
She nodded, finally able to look away. "Um. Walk where?" she asked.
"The interrogation tent."
Did they have a policy that demanded they say the absolute minimum number of words for every situation? "I know. Where is the interrogation tent?"
He rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. "Follow?"
"If you insist," Sakura muttered.
"...and that's when he told me that medics don't usually poison their...instruments? I think he said instruments. And then he said that it was probably just blood loss, which seemed reasonable considering how much blood was on the sheets. Then he put pressure on the cuts until the medic stopped healing himself and died like Itachi told him to."
Sakura paused to take a breath. Inoichi hadn't been in the room the ANBU had led her into. Instead there'd been guy with a lot of scars on his face, and an old guy with red stripes on his face and a ton of white hair. Sakura had hair envy.
"And how did you find out that Kabuto was working for Orochimaru?" the white-haired man asked her.
"Is Kabuto the medic?" she asked, shifting in her chair. It was really uncomfortable.
"Yes he was." Scarred Guy was kind of intense.
"Itachi told me. He said I had to tell people that."
"Did Kabuto appear stressed, or in a hurry?" Scarred Guy asked.
Sakura thought about it. "When? Like, when I woke up? He seemed fine, then."
"Did he say anything about a partner, or Danzo?"
"Who is Danzo?" Sakura asked. "And he didn't say anything about a partner, but I don't think he was going to just, like, disappear after he took Sasuke. He was really calm, if he was going missing nin."
"Danzo was the commander of this army," white-haired man answered. "He died last night. Are you certain Kabuto said nothing about killing him?"
"Pretty sure," Sakura said. "But we didn't have deep conversations or anything. Kabuto was really nasty, though. He totally could have."
"Alright." He stood up and started pacing. "You still don't know what woke you up?"
Sakura tapped her feet restlessly. "I dunno. I woke up feeling worried, so maybe it was a bad dream? He must not have cast the genjutsu then."
"And you threw off the genjutsu by...?"
"Using Kai." They seemed really hung up on that. This was like, the third time they'd asked her.
"Could you demonstrate?" white-haired man asked. "Just quickly, if you please."
Sakura shrugged, pressing her hands in the seal and flexing her chakra. "Kai," she said.
White-haired man's nostrils flared opened, and then his eyes narrowed, like she'd done something really interesting instead of the very first chakra exercise in the Academy. "You have the taste of Hatake chakra."
"I what?" Kakashi's last name was Hatake, right?
Sakura wiggled her tongue against the roof of her mouth, but couldn't taste anything significant. Maybe tasting chakra was a metaphor, or something. She did need to brush her teeth, though. And floss.
"It would explain why she collapsed when his heart stopped—"
"Kakashi's heart stopped? Is he okay?"
Scarred man was expressionless. "Can you describe the chains that were holding you, again?"
"They were really shiny. And heavy."
Both men looked at her. "Any other details?"
"Could you give me a hint? I mean...they were metal. Probably. And Gato said they were really expensive, and he only had three lengths, so he had them hook a set of manacles to Kakashi's chains. They, uh, put those ones on me."
"And what happened when you unlocked the chains?"
"I told you this already," she reminded them. "This is the third time." Did she need to talk slower?
"Once more, please."
"Fine. My chains got dull and the surface crumbled a bit. After I took them off, I felt a lot better." She paused, licking her lips. Her head was starting to hurt, and she was really thirsty. "Kakashi's cuffs were hard to open. They were sticky inside the hinges. I dropped them after I got them off and the entire chain crumbled into dust."
"Including the manacles that had been around your wrists?" the white-haired man asked.
"I can't remember. I...uh...I didn't want to look down." Sakura fought back a nervous giggle at the thought of the eyes. "After I got the chains off him, Kakashi started breathing more evenly—I mean, he stopped panting. I felt...something. I don't know what. It was warm. I don't know."
"Fascinating." White-haired man stood up. "Sakura, would you accompany me back to the medic nin tent?"
"You're done?" If there was a trifle too much excitement in her voice, she hoped they would ignore it. "I can leave?"
"Ibiki, get one of the Hyuuga. We'll be needing their eyes." Sakura's hair prickled, standing on end.
"Does this have something to do with Kakashi?" she asked, hoping someone would respond for once. "Is he okay?"
"Perhaps." He tugged open the ties on the door flap and held it open. Sunlight streamed in, and his face lost its intent, sharp-eyed expression. He didn't look as smart, or as alert. "Are you coming?" White-haired man's voice had picked up an indefinable accent, his words slightly blurred.
Sakura slid off the edge of the chair and to the ground. Her legs had fallen asleep and the prickles of waking were vaguely painful. "Yeah, okay."
"Sit still," the old man—the medics had called him Jiraiya—had said, pointing at the empty bed beside Kakashi's. "We're going to try something." He'd drawn a bunch of lines on her forehead, and on her palms, then drew something else on Kakashi's chest. Sakura had watched warily, not quite trusting him, but nothing had happened until he'd stood back and clapped his hands.
Try something apparently meant hurt you.
Her skin shivered, shoestrings dragged out from under it. Sakura touched her chest, looking for the ropes being torn from her bones, but there was nothing to show for the pain.
"Lie still," someone ordered her again.
Sakura did her best to hold motionless, but couldn't stop twitching. "What are you doing?" she asked, but they did not reply.
Her leg jerked, closely followed by her hand. Sakura grit her teeth and grabbed on to the side bars. Her face twisted, lips curling into a mad smile that she didn't intend or feel. Sakura thought she heard the medics talking, but could not understand the words.
The wounds in her shoulders opened, pouring hot and wet behind the bandages. A choked cry tore free from her throat, but no one heard. No one cared. Sakura could see them, clustered around Kakashi's bed, their backs turned to her.
Her teeth chattered, and Sakura's back tightened, her body contorting in tense, painful poses. The bleeding quickened, flooding out with the chakra—it had to be her chakra they were taking—and draining her like a bathtub.
She bit her tongue, a bright startling pain, and tasted blood. The muscles in her chest had locked up, and she couldn't breathe, couldn't cry out.
Sakura's eyes were as wide as they would go, and she could not close them, stuck staring at the backs of the medics and hoping they'd notice her and stop.
It was like they dropped her into deep, cold water: distorted vision, distant sounds—yelling, someone was yelling—and she couldn't breathe.
The pain stopped. Sakura sucked in a shallow breath, then another, blinking away the darkness that had claimed her eyes.
"You're killing her!" Naruto had a powerful set of lungs, Sakura decided, her returning hearing ringing from the sound of his voice. "Stop it!"
"Do you want your teacher awake or not?" the white-haired man snapped at him.
"Of course I do! That doesn't mean I want Sakura dead!"
She could see them now. Naruto and Sasuke stood between her and Jiraiya, side by side and bristling with anger. It made Sakura feel safe, even though she thought she might be bleeding to death. The duck gown was definitely ruined.
"She won't die from this. The chakra she's been using isn't hers. The seal is just returning it to its rightful owner."
He made her sound like a thief. Sakura hadn't taken anyone's chakra, much less Kakashi's. Or if she had, she hadn't meant to.
Damn it, it was probably true. Sakura felt like hitting someone. It figured. The first time she managed to do anything important, it was with someone else's power.
"No," Sasuke said flatly. He sounded emotionless, but she could see the tremors in his hands. He was upset. "You're stealing her chakra."
"Look, kid, I appreciate that you're trying to protect her, but you don't need to. I know what I'm doing. She isn't in pain."
It made her giggle, then choke on the blood in her mouth. "Doen't 'urt?" she laughed, saliva and blood dribbling over her chin. "Is peashy.Fuggen grade! Gibe me sum more."
She may need to work on the talking thing.
"What are you—" He leaned over, peering over the barrier of Naruto and Sasuke's bodies. He said a very nasty curse, and then called for a medic.
"We've almost got him awake," someone called. "Could you restart it?"
Sakura groaned. It wasn't like she wouldn't let them do it again, if it would wake up Kakashi, but she really didn't want to.
"No. I...ah." Jiraiya scratched the back of his head and smiled, showing too many teeth and squinting his eyes almost shut. "I appear to have made a mistake. She...ah...was not, in fact, leeching Kakashi's chakra. Also, she now needs a medic."
"I told you so," Sasuke muttered, brushing his fingers over her hand. Sakura grinned, her eyelids drooping. She couldn't wait to tell Ino.
Someone pushed Sasuke and Naruto away and started pressing really hard on her shoulders. It was getting to be familiar.
"Jiraiya? I was told you require my assistance?"
Through the people around her (there were a lot more now, all of them wearing medic uniforms) Sakura spied Hinata's dad. It took her a couple of seconds to recognize him, but she was almost sure...
The passing out thing was not cool. It made your head feel like someone had used it as a punching bag, and dumped a bucket of sand in your mouth for good measure. Sakura was deeply unimpressed.
She wiggled her fingers, testing to see if they hurt. They didn't, but her shoulders ached, in a dim, distant sort of way. From the way her skin tightened and pulled, she thought there might be a needle in her hand, again.
"Are you awake?"
Sakura frowned and opened her eyes. It was dark, and someone had leaned their crutches against her bed, right in front of her face.
"Yes?" she guessed. Her tongue felt stiff, and she could feel a smooth line down the side where she was missing taste buds. She folded her tongue, worrying at the smoothness. They must have healed her.
"That's good." The speaker was amused. She couldn't see him because of the crutches, but his voice sounded familiar. Really familiar. "Do you want something to drink?"
That sounded like a lot of effort. On the other hand, she was thirsty. Sakura sighed pensively. "I dunno," she said, yawning. "Easy water?"
"I can have easy water? It sounds hard," she clarified.
They'd put her in a new patient's gown. It had puppies frolicking with butterflies on it. "I want a puppy," she informed the stranger, lifting the collar so she could see more cartoon dogs. "A big one. Not a big puppy though. I want...little puppy, big dog." She nodded, pleased that she'd explained herself.
The stranger laughed quietly. "Don't we all?" She heard water pouring, from somewhere by her stranger. She felt oddly possessive of him. "If I help you up, will water be easy?"
"Yeah," she agreed. "I think I'd like a black one. He could have spots, though. Like the fluffy ones at mountain shrines."
Her stranger wiggled a hand behind her back and lifted her, just long enough to tuck some thin pillows behind her. Sakura blinked for too long and missed her chance to see his face. "Are we still talking about dogs?"
"Not dog yet. Puppy." She was still in the hospital tent, though there were a lot fewer beds. All the ones without people were gone. "I'd name him..." Sakura closed her eyes, giving in to the leaden weights that her eyelashes had become. "Why are all the beds gone?"
"They're packing up. The war is over."
A glass pressed against her lips, slowly rising until she could sip at it. Sakura did, deciding that this was sufficiently easy to be worth the effort. It was really good water.
He took the glass away, and dried a trickle that had fallen down her chin. "No more for now. The medics said you might be sick."
"Why was there a war?" she asked him, dragging her sheet higher. It was cold in the tent. She could hear rain pattering against the sides.
"Hmmm. Something about Gato attempting to sell Konoha ninja into slavery. I'll admit I wasn't paying much attention, but Wave Country has officially been annexed to Fire Country as of this evening." Stranger paused, then continued. "Gato's band of missing nin and ronin were put to death, excluding Zabuza for some reason."
"Zabuza was nice," Sakura said. A thought distracted her. "Fire-Wave Country?" she asked, giggling. It sounded silly. "Wave was a dumb country anyway. Very dark and smelly."
"I'm not sure a root cellar converted into a prison is the best place to base your judgement of a country on."
"Meh. It's dark right now." It didn't smell too bad, though.
"True." He sighed. "I never much liked Wave, either. Too rainy."
"Only baby trees," she agreed.
"They're mean, too. Trying to sell us into slavery, I mean really. Who does that?"
"Gato," Sakura answered. Something about his last sentence confused her. She couldn't put her finger on it, though. "He won't anymore, though."
"Yeah?" Sakura dragged one of the pillows from behind her and hugged it to her chest, ignoring the stretch and pull of her shoulders. She was temporarily distracted by the puppies on her arms. They were so cute!
"Yeah. You did good work."
Sakura pouted. "Old guy said I had Kakashi's chakra. Means it wasn't really me," she complained. "Sucks. I wanted to be a hero, too."
Her stranger went quiet for a couple of moments. "I was informed that it was quite the opposite."
She tucked the pillow under her chin. "He had my chakra?"
"Yes. The chains formed a link, which persisted for a while." Fabric rustled. "How do you feel? Jiraiya nearly drained you dry."
"I'm fine. Feel good, really. Do you think they'll let me see Kakashi tomorrow?" she asked.
He didn't respond. Stranger was probably bored of talking to her.
"Miss him," she muttered. "People keep saying he's fine, but I think they may be lying."
"Are you having trouble seeing?" Stranger asked. He took her hand, gingerly, like he thought she might break. There were bandages on his wrists, too.
Heh, bandage buddies.
Sakura peered through the crutches at the man in the bed next to hers. His patient gown had penguins on it, he was wearing a surgical mask, and his red eye was covered up by white-coloured cloth. "Kakashi?" she asked, wondering if she was dreaming.
"Who did you think I was?" he answered, raising his eyebrow.
"I thought...stranger. I dunno. You sounded like a good person..." Sakura's brain caught up with the action. "Kakashi!"
"Shhh! People are sleeping."
Sakura grinned until her cheeks hurt. "You're awake!" She struggled to sit up, scrambling for the edge of the bed. "You're alive and awake."
"You're supposed to stay in bed," he warned her, whispering. Kakashi glanced down the scattered rows of beds. "I'm not kidding. The medics were very, uh, clear. As was ANBU. And the Interrogation Squad. They said something about you lighting the hospital on fire?"
Awake! She beamed, too happy to really hear him. They'd raised her bed rails, but Sakura was a ninja. Half-foot rails were no match for ninja-ness!
"Shit, you're going to rip your stitches—" Kakashi stood up, like he was trying to grab her and Sakura gladly fell into him, knocking them both onto his bed. She knocked over his crutches and her IV pole, too, and they made a lot of noise when they hit the ground. "Sakura?"
She sniffed, clinging tight. "Yes?"
"Are you okay?"
"Fantabulous." She squeezed him, pressing her ear against his chest. Kakashi's heart beat was slow and strong and he was awake!
"You've got your IV line all tangled up," he scolded.
"Un-huh?" Sakura agreed sleepily. She was tired now. They'd wrapped a couple of loops of tape around her wrist and the needle, so it was probably fine, really. Unlikely to go anywhere.
"Come on, could you sit up?"
"Nope." Sakura yawned. "I'm going to sleep now."
"You're—ah...hello..." He cleared his throat. "Good evening...or morning, as the case may be."
There was someone else at the foot of the bed. "This is not your bed, Kakashi." They sounded grumpy.
"Well, you see Jiro—it is Jiro, right? I was asleep in my bed when I woke to a horrible foreboding, and I just had to investigate," Kakashi said. "It was awful."
"Just awful," Sakura added, adjusting her head so she'd drool on the sheets and not Kakashi.
"And did you find anything?" Jiro sounded like he was giving credence to Kakashi's lies, which was kind of silly of him.
"Of course. My jounin senses are never wrong," Kakashi said.
Sakura muffled her giggle.
"What did you find?" Jiro repeated. He sounded alarmed. Justifiably, given that last night the tent had nearly caught on fire. For a very good reason, but nevertheless. Fire.
Kakashi cleared his throat again. "A young lady in desperate need of a glass of water."
"I fixed it! Don't worry. I won't even tell anyone that you failed to ensure she was well-hydrated-"
"I was so thirsty," she added mournfully.
"I see." Jiro picked up the IV pole and untangled the tube. It had been kind of twisted. "Might I ask what happened to Genma?"
"Who?" Kakashi replied. He was tense, his chest shaking a tiny bit, like he was trying not to laugh.
"That is his bed. Which he shouldn't be out of, either."
"Oh. Right. He forgot something in Wave. He went to go get it."
"The Army leaves tomorrow," Jiro said, mild interest coloring his voice.
"No better time to get it, then," Sakura pointed out.
Jiro sighed. "Reassure me. Genma isn't dead in a corner, is he?"
Kakashi shook his head.
"And neither of you are experiencing difficulty breathing, dizziness, or any other signs that you might, possibly, be dying of blood loss or chakra exhaustion?"
"Not at the moment," Sakura said, giving him a half-hearted thumbs up.
"Fuck it, then. I'm leaving you here. Try not to wake up any more patients."
Sakura held up her hand for a fist bump. Kakashi's knuckles knocked against hers. "Sleep now?" she asked.
"Gods yes. I feel like I went ten rounds with Gai." Kakashi dragged his legs onto the bed and lay back, sighing mightily. Sakura rolled onto her side, tucking herself under his arm. It was familiar and warm, even if her knees were hanging over the edge because the bed was too small.
Sakura closed her eyes, but couldn't sleep, not quite yet. "Kakashi?"
"I'm starting...okay, I'm pretty sure I totally misunderstood what you were telling me to do with the whole eye thing. What...I mean, do you remember what you said?"
Kakashi laughed quietly. "You didn't exactly go where I expected with it, no. But I think your interpretation was a much better one than mine."
"Oh." She wrapped her fingers around his thumb because she sort of needed to hold on to something.
"Inoichi said I should clarify, by the way," Kakashi added. "I used my sharingan eye when I gave you the order. You weren't going crazy, with the whole eye thing. I maybe...possibly...hypnotized you into going after eyes."
"You...?" Sakura squeezed his fingers, not really certain what she wanted to say, but seriously, deeply, totally pleased that she wasn't crazy. A little broken, maybe, but not in the way that made her want peoples' eyes. That was good. That was really good.
"Sorry," Kakashi sounded embarrassed. "From what Inoichi said, it was completely unnecessary."
"I did good?"
"You did great." He ruffled her scraggly stubble-hair. "I'm very proud of you."
She smiled, content, and fell asleep.