disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to Laurah. This is her SS present over at the AAG.
notes: um so. basically. I just really suck at this fandom now. whoops. uhhhh. yeah. here. take it. word-vomit.

title: the stand alone complex
summary: That was what forgiveness sounded like. Screaming, and then silence. — Sasuke, Sakura, Naruto.






The battlefield rang with a thousand dying screams.

It was an ugly sound, something that echoed and echoed for a very long time, bouncing off the bodies of the dead that were scattered across the ground in piles of two, four, six, ten, twelve, eighteen, twenty-five, forty-seven.

And the bodies just kept piling, 'til they were nothing more than a careening tower of congealed blood, flesh, and fabric. It was a horrible way to think of them, because they were people, and Sakura rationally knew that but—

Well, dead people didn't help anyone, except for the vultures.

Sakura knelt on the ground with her head down, dry-heaving herself into exhaustion. Blood on her knuckles and in her hair. Blood everywhere.

The screams died away.

And then there was silence.

But that was what forgiveness sounded like. Screaming, and then silence.

It had a horrible merit that was all its own, and sometimes (most of the time), she didn't know what do to with it or about it or anything. It was just there. Sakura understood forgiveness. She understood the need for it, because with forgiveness came peace.

And God, the things she had done in the name of peace.

The worst part, though, she thought, came afterwards.

The worst part came in the cleanup.

And so she heaved herself off the ground, bloodied knuckles, broken bones and all, and dragged herself back to the healer's tent. They would need her there.

They would always need her there.

Except, of course, when they didn't.

"Go find them," the healers tutted. "Your team. Go. Don't wait. We don't need help yet."

Sakura was sure it was a lie, but she needed to know if they were—well, she just needed to know. She'd seen the blast. She'd felt it shake the earth.

Stupid Naruto.

Stupid Sasuke.

Stupid everyone.

(She was going to beat the life out of the both of them when she found them. They were too stupid to die. She was going to beat them into a pulp and it was going to be great and then they would go home, all of them. And maybe they'd be happy again.)

She didn't have the energy to move quickly, and so she picked her way through the bodies and the muck. The destruction was wide-spread. Of course, she had expected that—wars never left anything in good shape.

(Sakura had understatement down to an art.)

The pillar of smoke in the distance remained stubborn in the sky, and Sakura made her leisurely way towards it.

If they were dead, she needed time to prepare herself. And Sakura knew them. Her boys. Her stupid fucking boys. They would fight to the death or not at all—they were idiotic and—and stupid and—and stupid, so stupid.

All or nothing.

Sakura tried not to think about it.

The thought of it made her sick.

Oh god.

She struggled to stay standing upright; to crash now would be to fall into the bodies on the ground, to soak into the ground and the mulch like the blood, to burn into the sky into nothingness. To fall now would be to die, and Sakura wasn't ready to let go of everything just yet.

She skipped over a body—no respect, Sakura, said a voice in the back of her head.

But respect wasn't something she was looking for.

Not anymore.

She was the enemy of laughter, a murder-grey ghost-girl walking through smoke and fire to end it all. Sakura danced with skeletons and memories though maybe they were the same thing, in the end. She shuddered and rubbed her arms.

And fell headfirst forward into what might as well have been the aftermath of a bomb.

Sakura chuckled mirthlessly.

It might as well have been.

She tucked limp strands of hair behind her ear, and made her way to the center of the crater. They were laying there, the pair of them, and her stomach did something that might have been the precursor to vomiting again. Except that there was nothing left in her stomach, and Sakura wasn't going to allow herself to be weak in front of them.

Not now.

"Naruto?" she called. "Sasuke-k—"

(She cut that off before it got anywhere. Sasuke. Sasuke. Sasuke.)

There wasn't any movement. Not even breathing.

Fear clenched at her throat and the screaming in her head—

Gurgling. Coughing. Naruto coughing. Sasuke shifting. A breath in. A breath out.

—and then silence.

Sakura dropped to her knees, and started to cry. "You idiots. You idiots. What if—what if—?"

Naruto managed to push himself up, burns along his arms and his clothing scorched. Sasuke still hadn't properly moved, but Sakura drank in Naruto's face, all blue eyes and blonde hair and stupid grin and—he was alive. He was alive.

She reached for him.

"So, do I get a date now? Huh, Sakura-chan?"

Sakura couldn't help the glare. It was something left over from a childhood that they'd all left behind a long time ago. "You're an idiot, Naruto. Why would I date an idiot?"

She thought she heard Sasuke snort. She hid a smile.

And Sakura sat between them, her boys, her idiots, and looked up at the sky. The violence rested between her shoulderblades, tasting vaguely like exhaustion and regret.

But they were together again.

The three of them.

And for now, that might very well be enough.







notes2: ew. ew. ew. ew. ew.
notes3: if you Favourite without leaving a review, I will hunt you down. :)
notes4: if you Alert this bitch, I won't even bother with hunting you down, because you're obviously unable to read.
notes5: I hate everything. I'm going to bed.