disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: chloe and les and reading week.
notes: this is a tribute to the three cities that I love the best.

chapter title: sing me back to sleep
summary: In a disposable plastic society, Konoha's underbelly is the last place anyone wants to be. — Sasuke/Sakura.






Sakura woke to the hollow patter of rain against glass.

The sky outside was still the dull shade of purple-black that only descended upon the city in the deepest depths of night. Konoha never slept, but 3AM on a Tuesday was about as close to slow as the monster-city ever got. Damp with the deluge of water from the sky, it was even quieter than normal.

It was the quiet that had woken her, anyway. She slept to the lullaby-rumble of skytrains and wailing sirens, and anything else made her uncomfortable.

Sakura stumbled out of bed, rubbing at her eyes. Golden effulgence shone from underneath her closed door and she pushed the door open to tumble into the kitchen light.

The brilliance of it nearly blinded her. It took Sakura's eyes a full minute to adjust.

She rubbed at tired green eyes again. "What time is it?"

"Early," came the reply.

Her only cousin sat at their little table in their dingy little kitchen, palms curled around a steaming cup of coffee and a piece of cold, leftover piece of pizza on a grease-soaked paper plate in front of her. She was decked in her finest regalia; polish on the nails and lips redder than blood, oversize shirt cinched tight at the waist, glittery heels and ripped tights.

Karin looked like she'd been out on the town, but Sakura didn't want to know the specifics.

"You look slutty," Sakura said.

(No specifics, sure. Or she just really needed to learn to control her mouth.)

Karin only grinned, red hair in her eyes. "I always look slutty. It's my job, remember?"

Sakura rolled her eyes towards the low ceiling. Her gaze lingered there on the aged grey stucco and the brown water damage in the corners, head tipped back, eyes slit to almost closed. "I guess so. Is there any coffee left?"

"Mmhmm, in the pot on the burner. Should still be hot," Kari murmured into her cup.

Sakura shuffled to the counter, rubbing at her arms. The heat had gone out again. She shouldn't have been surprised, not really. The inner city all worked on one power grid, tangled up and stretched out through lines that shot off up to the curve of the skydome where the thieves and the rushes and the forgotten fed off the dregs of left-over power.

It wasn't unheard of for the heat to go out.

"God, it's cold."

The coffee steamed as Sakura poured herself a mug. Thick as sludge and dark, but that was the way Karin always brewed coffee—mostly no one else could stomach it. She'd gotten used to it in the months they'd lived together.

"You better drink that shit and get going. You're gonna be late."

Sakura looked up, eyes suddenly wide. "But you said it was early—"

"Early for me," Karin clarified. "Late for you. It's almost four."

"I start at four! Why didn't you tell me?!"

Karin sat back, legs crossed and placid, and grinned wickedly behind the chipped safety of her mug. "Because you always get like this, and it's amusing.."

"I really hate you, sometimes, Karin." Sakura let out a seething sound that was a cross between a whisper and a scream; furious, but determined not to wake the rest of the building. She rushed back into her bedroom, flicked the light on—nearly blinded herself in the process, fuck it—already searching for her work scrubs.

"I gotta run. You owe me takeout," Sakura told her as she skid back into the kitchen to chug the sludge-coffee and try to tie her hair back with one hand.

"Yeah, yeah," Karin chuckled. "Have a good day, dear!"

"I'm not kidding, you owe me!" Sakura called over her shoulder. As an afterthought, she stole the last piece of pizza on her way out.

Karin's screeching followed her all the way down the fire escape.

Sakura hit the ground laughing, pulling her hood up to spite the rain. The world still stunk of Konoha's nightlife, but finally on the comedown because 4AM was when the city drowned into the brilliant depression of vodka and the slow drip of burnt gasoline into the gutters. When the rain dampened it all down, sank into the ground, and cleaned Konoha from the inside out.

And this was her time, in the aftershock of ecstasy and freedom; that time when the night went silent—not, of course, that Konoha ever really went silent. But it was in the something-close-to-rest that Sakura found herself, trudging towards the solid cement walls of the children's hospital where she worked, bleeding herself to empty and exhaustion.

The hallways were long in that place, stark and fluorescent, but Sakura liked it. There was something clean in the sterility.

It was a place where children went to get better.

(Not that they always did. Sakura thought of Ami with leukemia and Takashi with poisoned blood and Ryuji gone blind with the cancer in his eyes and—and forced herself not to cry.)

The rain swept the city to almost clean.

Sakura breathed in deep.

The sun wouldn't rise for another few hours. She needed to be at work in… thirty seconds, give or take. Well, she wasn't going to be doing herself any favours if she didn't hurry.

Illness waited for no one, especially in the darkest, dankest depths of Konoha's festering streets. She had children to attend to.

She couldn't just let them die.

And with that, Sakura ducked underneath the thin metal overhang, and slipped into the hospital.







notes2: uh. hi.
notes3: leave a review, goobers. you know I love you. :)