Thanks again to Aria Lockheart for being a faithful reviewer and for everyone else who reviewed!
Down the Rabbit Hole
.:Chapter 7 – Of Kings, Dreams, and Everything In Between:.
Beep Beep Beep
The sound – it was familiar. Different from the ticking clock she'd become accustomed to.
Beep Beep Beep
It was high pitched and annoying is what it was. Sakura felt her nose automatically scrunch up.
"Sakura-chan! I saw her move!"
Something warm grabbed her arm.
"Idiot! Give her some space!"
The warmth left as quickly as it had come. She missed it.
"Sakura-chan, open your eyes!"
She tried to follow the orders. Her eyebrows furrowed in concentration. An involuntary moan escaped.
"It's okay now, Sakura."
Yeah, Sakura thought, I'm working on it. Instead, she tried to move her arms, hands, fingers... there, some fingers twitched. Why was she so tired and heavy? That's right, getting shoved around by a pink dragon will do that. What happened to everyone? Were they okay?
That voice – Sakura zeroed in on it. Memories of her last final moments hit her hard. She had to be sure. Green eyes finally cracked open – unwilling to go further, her lids stayed only cracked. Faces immediately forced their way into her line of sight. Some calling her name, others were smiling softly at her. But Sakura wasn't really seeing them. Her eyes sought out those fathomless coal eyes. When she found them, her exhausted gaze roamed his body for injuries. He looked tired – exhausted even, but relatively uninjured; And he was, most importantly, alive. A hand reached up, shaking with the effort. Sasuke stared at it for a moment, before catching it in his own. "Okay?" She whispered. Her voice was much weaker than she intended.
Sakura could have been too tired. She could have still been dreaming. Hell, her eyes may have even been seeing things – but Sakura saw him offer a small, but gentle smile while he nodded and gripped her hand. "Ah."
She returned the smile even as she felt herself give in to the darkness. The voices of the other people in the room faded into the background as her eyes closed again, the image of his smile forever printed in her brain. She never felt his grip let go of her hand.
When the green eyes opened again, Sakura was pleasantly surprised to find that they were far less heavy and much more focused. Her gaze first landed on her left hand. She tried not to feel disappointed.
Sakura looked up from her hand to see her old teacher smiling at her from behind his orange book. For a brief moment, Sakura thought she saw grey ears protruding from his head. She blinked, and the ears were gone.
"Evening." Sakura mumbled out. She blinked a few times before rubbing at her eyes, trying to get the sleep out. "What happened?"
"Oh? What was the last thing you remember?"
"I-" Sakura paused, her hands dropping from her eyes onto her lap. She remembered the attack in Sound, and then she remembered Wonderland, but could she tell that to Kakashi? "I remember being attacked in sound." Kakashi nodded, his gaze never leaving her. He waited for her to continue. "Then someone was about to use a genjutsu on Sasuke and –" Her brain became foggy. Visions of cat ears, hats, swords, and dragons swam through memories. She could still hear a faint ticking sound if she concentrated hard enough. "I had the strangest dream." She murmmered, nearly forgetting where she was and that there was someone in the room.
"Hmmm?" That sound. That irritating sound that said he knew she was hiding something. Sakura was snapped back to reality.
"What?" Sakura snapped.
Kakashi's answer was paused by the door slamming open and a blonde bouncing in. "Sakura-chan!"
Blonde hair immediately covered most of her vision. Over the bushel of hair, she saw her teacher and Sasuke stroll in.
When Naruto pulled back, not letting go of her hand, Sakura looked at him carefully, noting that nothing had changed from before her dream. Yet, she still thought he looked a bit odd without a hat on.
"How are you feeling?" The other blonde in the room asked. She picked up the wrist that wasn't being held and checked her pulse.
"Sakura was just about to tell us about her strange dream." Kakashi offered.
A heated red tint shaded Sakura's face, and a glare was sent over in Kakashi's direction. She could not see his entire masked face behind the orange book, but one eye had slightly squinted and Sakura was sure he wasn't smiling at the book.
"Tell me, Sakura-chan!" Naruto squeezed her hand. "Was I in it?"
There was reluctance as she answered, "You all were."
"Yeah? Was I awesome?"
"It was a lot like a book I read as a child." The world around her became slightly hazy as she pulled at her memories from a time in another world. "Naruto, you were the Mad Hatter."
"Hey! I'm not mad!" Naruto dropped her hand and pointed both fingers at an exaggerated smile, "I'm usually happy!"
"She means crazy, dobe."
Sakura continued, still picturing her beloved friends, "You were in it too, Kakashi-sensei. You were the Cheshire Cat." She chuckled slightly "You were still late."
"I try to stay true no matter what form."
"You were injured…" Her eyes unconsciously moved from his grey hair to his stomach. He had his normal clothes on, but green eyes searched for any indication of bandage wrappings underneath.
"I was." Kakashi put his book down and stood from his chair. Sakura watched his casual form saunter over, looking for any sign, any falter or wince. His hand found her pink hair and ruffled it. "But you healed me, Sakura. It's okay. I'm okay."
"Oh? Was I in this too?" Sakura's gaze turned to her teacher. She no longer wore a crown on her head, but Sakura thought it would fit her fine even in reality.
"You were the Duchess. You thought Tonton was your baby."
"Sounds about right." Kakahi's hand was lifted and he moved to sit back down on his chair.
"Watch it." Sakura heard Tsunade snap, but Sakura had stopped listening.
She missed them – her Wonderland friends. They had saved her, befriended her, and traveled with her, filling a void she didn't know she had until they were together again. Now they only existed in her memories - yet looking around the room, she knew a part of them was still there. She had never really left them. "Even in the dream, everyone was there."
"Sakura," Tsunde's voice was serious, with a hint of a special untold secret. "It wasn't a dream. It was a genjutsu."
"Oh." Sakura's head cocked to the side, trying to wrap her head around this new information, "So," She started slowly, "I've been trapped in it this whole time?"
"It's not something you can easily get out of. The danger of this particular genjutsu is the longer you stay in there, the harder it is to get out. Eventually, you forget that you weren't even from there and it become impossible to tear your mind from that world while here your body becomes a shell."
That made sense. She could remember working hard to get home at first, then slowly forgetting her purpose. Her mind had also been sending out signals, the sun, Sasuke - "It's strange." Sakura's nose scrunched up, "The Sasuke in my dream kept trying to warn me too. Maybe my sub-"
"That's because it was Sasuke!"
Green eyes snapped over to face wide, excited blue. "What?" Was all she could manage from her gaping mouth. They blinked rapidly at Naruto. He was grinning widely. Slowly, her gaze moved from Naruto, to the silent figure in the corner of the room. He was leaning on the wall, finding something in the corner far more interesting than this conversation.
"We sent someone in to guide you out." She heard Tsunade explain to her left. Sakura never stopped staring at Sasuke. "With the danger of forgetting yourself, we sent in some insurance to guide you along the way."
Sakura's mouth was dry. All of the hints, all of the urging and directions flashed through her brain. Why though? Why him? Why not not Naruto or Kakashi?
"He volunteered." Sakura didn't know if she had asked the question or if Tsunade had read her expression, but as soon as she answered, Sasuke's glare was directed at Tsunade. "As soon as we figured out what had to be done, Sasuke volunteered. It was dangerous, but had the best chakra control and the most likely to get you out rather than get sidetracked."
"I guess," Sakura swallowed, "I guess it makes sense."
Sasuke sighed and rolled his eyes before pushing off of the wall. "You were damn annoying too. Always getting into trouble and forgetting your way."
Annoying. Sakura should have been angry. She should have been offended at his favorite word for her, should have smacked him for saying her least favorite word in the world. Annoying.
But instead, Sakura grinned. She grinned and reached from his hand when he came near. "Yeah." Her grip on his hand was hard. "I am." He looked away, but she could feel his fingers mold around hers. "But you still saved me."
"Idiot." He mumbled. Pink tinted otherwise pale ears. "I wouldn't have to if you weren't such an idiot and jumping in front of things not meant for you."
"Yeah." She squeezed his hand again. The others in the room were long forgotten. "Thank you."
His onyx eyes finally met hers. She saw barely hidden relief, pride, and a little bit of something she knew was also reflecting in her eyes. "Don't do it again."
"Don't get caught in a genjutsu again, or don't save you?"
Sasuke's gaze darkened slightly with memories, "Both."
Sakura chuckled, "I can't promise anything." Her eyes twinkled, her grip on his hand never weakening, "But I have my very own King to save me again."
He did not respond, but he did not pull away nor give her a negative answer, and that, Sakura knew, was his answer.
And in the back of her mind, inside a black and white checkered room and a small door, a Hatter would always be having a ramen party with a mouse and hare that a Cheshire Cat would be late for. The Duchess would forever be caring for her baby pig and harassed by the white queen. A mouse and a cat would play near the water while a lizard would be helping the white rabbit paint his house. Traveling around, a King would eventually find a ramen party and join because they were a team, and they were waiting for the day their pink haired friend would dream again.
Tada! Short, but effective ending. The story itself is finished, but I was to add another chapter with Sasuke's point of view from all of this. It might answer a few of your questions too.
So, now that it's over, the fun part is going back over the previous chapters and seeing all the hints from the first chapter of who everyone is and the hints leading to the last chapter. I was hoping I didn't make everything too obvious. Did I? Or were there some pleasant (or unpleasant?) surprises?
Hope you enjoyed. I had a lot of fun writing this story (though the end was a bit difficult). Thanks and please review!