I had never been in a Konoha jail cell before. I'd seen them, of course, but I had never, ever been inside one. It was an odd feeling. I could have never imagined I would end up here, but with the events, I suppose it should have been obvious. A passer-by may have seen me make my way toward the Kage's balcony before it all went down. Perhaps before the body guards were shielded from Orochimaru they saw me in the wreckage. Maybe someone saw me punch the Kazekage in the face.
There were plenty of explanations, and I was a fool for thinking that I could waltz in there and beat everyone up and get away with it. That was such a Naruto move it actually made me laugh.
There was no one else where I was jailed, and I figured they had me separate from all the prisoners. Attempted assassination was a bit more severe than our prisoners of war or spies that we caught. I had no visitors—surprise, surprise—and of course I wouldn't soon. I wondered how everyone was reacting, finding out that their friend Sakura attempted to kill the Hokage.
I didn't. But why would they believe that?
There was no way to tell the time of day, so I when I first awoke, I decided it would be daytime. I needed some way to keep myself sane, and counting the days was a way for me. I would wake, try to occupy my time long enough until I was tired again, then I would sleep once more.
I tried more than once to contact the witch, but it was futile. I wasn't sure if she was ignoring me or if I had been here too long to remain in contact or if she was dead, but I heard nothing from her. I thought of the look on Orochimaru's face when he saw the mark on my abdomen, the look of shock, anger, possibly even betrayal. I wondered briefly if he would return and jail her. If I would be the reason.
I comforted myself with the memory that it was something about a man she killed that Orochimaru wanted alive. It had nothing to do with me.
Three 'days' until I had human interaction other than the guard that brought my meals. Two guards, with scowls on their faces, collected me from my cell, not speaking a word. I didn't ask where I was going, knowing I wouldn't get an answer. They weren't terribly fond of me.
I ignored the terrifying thoughts of where they could be taking me and I quietly followed.
Strangely enough, a hospital was the destination. We winded through the halls, both of them guiding me by my arms, which were tied behind my back. I recalled briefly that Sasuke and Naruto would be in these hospital rooms. Or maybe they wouldn't be. Hell, I didn't even know what fucking day it was.
Maybe they would take me to see one of them, my foolish hopes spoke to me. Maybe I would see one of them and they could vouch for my innocence. Not that I was an easy case to defend.
But I saw neither Sasuke nor Naruto. Instead, in a room guarded by a single ANBU soldier, lie the Hokagee, lying lifeless on the—
"Sakura, come in." He spoke, his voice raspy, he didn't move a muscle other than to smile. "Leave us." The guards did as they were told.
I was stunned into silence. He was alive? I wanted to scream and cry and cheer and laugh all at the same time. But I w as silent. I did it, I thought. Though I didn't do much. I had been stuck out of the battle, I did nothing. But here he was, he was alive and well and breathing. I felt tears in my eyes
Was I dreaming?
"Sit down Sakura?" I glanced pointedly to the chair by his bed, and I stumbled over to it. "You look shocked."
"I-I..." I took in a shaky breath, tears in my eyes, "I was sure you were dead."
He chuckled, "Why would you think that?"
Blanching, I choked on my own words, "Well-I-you-I-was arrested for attempted murder of—"
"Attempted," He cut in, smiling at me, "Not successful. I'm sorry you had to stay in that cell for so long, I know a day can seem—"
"A day?" I whispered to myself. It seemed so much longer. The darkness seemed to stretch so long, I thought it was so much longer than a day. He didn't hear me.
"—I was unconscious you see, but very much alive." He smiled again, then it faded. "Sakura, you must know that your knowledge of the Kazekage being Orochimaru is very suspicious."
I was silent.
"I want to believe in your innocence," He said, "I do believe in it. But I cannot testify to it without the truth. No one else knew it was him, and even facing him, you were unaffected. As if you were familiar with him."
"I faced him in the forest, you see—" I tried to defend myself, but he spoke above me and I feel silent.
"One time meeting Orochimaru should instill fear, not courage. Especially in a genin."
"I am unlike most genin." I said, running through options in my head. I could tell him a lie of course, but what could fool him? He would see my lie out and mistrust me. I would end back in that cell.
Perhaps I could run. The idea itself was a joke. They would catch me in a moments notice and I would be back to that cell.
I could tell the truth.
...and he wouldn't believe me and I'd be back in that cell.
Or, a part of my whispered, he will believe you and you'll have him on your side. Imagine having an ally in the Hokage in this situation. He could help you beat Orochimaru. Look what he did this time! He kicked his ass with what looked like no injuries.
"Why." He breathed, watching me intently, "Why are you so unlike other genin Sakura. I need the truth."
"You won't believe me, Hokage-sama." I spoke, "And besides, I would much rather ear of your endeavors. How you beat Orochimaru with what looks like no injuries." I smiled, hoping to seem innocent. I was innocent, after all.
He frowned then, looking as if a heavy weight lay on his shoulders.
"Sakura..." He spoke quietly, and sighed. "Of course, you didn't hear."
I felt panic then, wondering what he could possibly mean, "What?" I spoke anxiously, "What is it?"
He chuckled lightly, but his smile was sad, "Don't fret." He spoke, and I forced myself to calm down, "I did not escape without a scratch. Orochimaru was a formidable opponent. I thought I would die. But if it weren't for his apparent distraction—" Distraction? "—I may have died. But I kept my life. My body however, I was not so fortunate to keep."
"I..." Words died in my throat, "I do not understand."
He sighed, "Sakura, I no longer have use of my body. I'm afraid I'm as useful as a severed head as I am."
My confidence, my happiness, my glee; all of it died in that moment. I stared down at his body, only just realizing how unmoving it was. He was paralyzed, I thought, paralyzed from the chest down. Was that any better, for a hokage, than being dead? I felt tears well in my eyes for an entirely different reason than before.
"I'm so sorry," I spoke, "I wanted to save you, but if I had known...I'm so sorry, this must feel worse than death."
He shushed me, "Nonsense." He eyes me, thoughtfully, "If I didn't live, who would vouch for your innocence. Now, what exactly did you want to save me from?"
I explained it then, regardless of his reaction, I owed him this much. I took away from him a hero's death, and gave him a useless body. So I explained everything, starting with the fact that I was from the future. I explained my purpose, for the witch, against Orochimaru. Then I explained his death.
"I just wanted to save you. To change something, especially your death. It seems I did nothing to help you. For that I'm sorry. I failed." I stared down at my lap.
"Look at me." He commanded, his voice gentle. I glanced up hesitantly, and he was smiling. "Do not feel ashamed for saving someone's life. Maybe you could not help my in the battle, but I do believe your tryst with Orochimaru did enough to save me. I lost my body, but I still have my mind.
"I will," he continued, "however, need to give up my place as Hokage. But I am alive, and that is all that matters. Life, no matter the condition, is precious." He smiled at me. I couldn't quite bring myself to smile back, but I appreciated his words more than he could possibly understand.
"You must know, Sakura," He said, "Orochimaru is very interested in you. If he finds out how invested you are in Sasuke, his interest will only increase. You have shown him much of your situation, and I think it will hurt you. He will not hesitate to kill you, Sakura."
"Hokage, I am not as young as I look. I know about Orochimaru." He nodded solemnly.
"I am sorry for your experiences. Eighteen is still very young for you to have this much weight on your shoulders." He paused, then grinned, "But don't fret. You speak to me as if hope is lost, but look what you changed today. I am alive, aren't I?"
"You have no use of your body other than your head, Hokage-sama," I argued, but he smiled again.
"Alive, nonetheless." He sighed, "You are free to go. As the charges were false, and you have word from the Hokage, you should have no trouble. Head home and have a nice meal and a bath."
I stood, my legs shaking, and took a hesitant step toward him. "Hokage-sama, can I hug you?" He looked shocked for a moment, like that was the last thing he was expecting. "I just, the only person who I've told is Sasuke, and he isn't good with words, I just...you're the only one to make me feel..." I couldn't get the words out. He made me feel strong. He gave me hope, in just a few words. He made me feel capable again. He smiled at me, and I leaned down to wrap my arms around his neck. He laid his head against the side of mine, working as an embrace due to the lack of function in his arms.
I pulled back, smiling at him. A smile I don't think I've worn since...who knows when. A smile fueled by hope.
I did what he said and made my way home, intent on a nice bath.
I was greeted with a sobbing mother and father at the door. I tried to be understanding as I herded them into the living room, I tried to understand that they were distraught over their daughter and had a right to freak, but I couldn't handle the tears. I awkwardly calmed them down, before giving my dad a pat on the shoulder and running upstairs to take a bath. They were still crying theatrical tears of thanksgiving.
I quickly stripped out of my clothes, grimy from that day in the cell, and ran the bath water. I spoiled myself with bath salts and bubbles. My inner six year old got carried away and put half the bottle in. Then my inner four year old took the rails and dumped the rest in.
The result was glorious.
I stepped carefully through the bubbles in the water, the heat making my groan. It had been so long since I could take a nice bath like this.
"Mom!" I called, hearing a very faint, 'yes, dear?' from down the stairs, "Could you do me a favor and bring me up some clothes. Last I checked everything I had was in the wash!" I heard an affirmative and let myself sink lower into the heavenly waters. I blew some bubbles away to make room to my head as I sank in. There were so many bubbles. I giggled quietly to myself.
I heard the door open to my room, and called out, "You can just bring them in here!" I closed my eyes, hearing the bathroom door open and the clothes dropped on to the floor. "Thanks!" I chirped, humming contentedly and kicking my feet up, opening my eyes to watch the bubbles splatter.
In the corner of my eye I saw not my mother.
I flailed slightly at the sight of Sasuke in my doorway, a small pile of clothes dropped on the ground. He stared at me, eyes wide and eyebrows drawn up in something akin to horror.
"Your mother asked me to bring these to you." He spoke, monotone, motionless.
"Ah..." I said, feeling very much like him at the moment, "I, um..." I swallowed, thickly, telling myself he couldn't see me under the bubbles anyway. Good choice Sakura. "Why, uh...Why are you in my house?"
He pursed his lips, walking forward and resting against the sink, staring at the wall in front of him and refusing to look at me. "I heard you were let out of prison."
I cringed at the word prison, but hummed in agreement. "Yeah, I was. It was a misunderstanding."
He was silent, for he must've already known it was a 'misunderstanding.' I remembered how uncharacteristically soft he was the moment after the battle with Gaara, and compared it to him now. He was stiff, frozen, silent. He was uncomfortable.
"Um, You can go to my room, I'll get dressed and we can talk." He nodded, standing and walking briskly into my room, shutting my door. I quickly, spastically scrambled out of the bathtub and grabbed a towel to dry. The only clothes my mom had sent up (what the hell was wrong with her anyway? Sending up Sasuke with my clothes?) consisted of two kunoichi dresses—definitely not sleep wear—and some shorts and dad's T-shirt.
These shorts were really short.
I pulled them on, finding them tighter and shorter than I was comfortable with after what just happened, and I pulled on the shirt. It was longer than my shorts, something I was simultaneously grateful and angry for.
When I opened the door, shaking a towel through my hair, Sasuke was leaning against my window. He didn't turn to look at me when I entered, so I announced my presence with a peppy, "What's up?"
He glance at me, "You're happy."
I shrugged, "Not really. Happier than usual, I guess. Sit down" I patted the bed next to me after I sat. He hesitated, then came and sat next to me on the bed. He was acting strangely.
"So," I spoke, "What is it?"
"Hn?" Was his only response, and I found myself smiling slightly at the age old response.
"I mean why are you here?"
It was quiet for a long time, then he scooted back on my bed, turned, and lay down beside me. I smiled again, quirking an eyebrow at him. "What are you doing?"
"Resting." He replied, acting as if it was normal that he came to my house just to lay on my bed.
"Sasuke, do you want to talk or—" Stupid question, Sasuke never wants to talk. He didn't respond to me either, so I huffed and lied down beside him. I stared at the ceiling, periodically glancing over at his face. I heaved a sigh.
"Do you think it's weird," I began, "That I'm essentially eighteen years old?" I asked. "I mean, in my mind I'm six years older than you."
I looked over at him to see his eyes were closed, but his brow was furrowed. "Why would that be strange?"
Of course it wouldn't be strange. We weren't a couple or anything, and it was normal for people ages apart to be friends. And teammates. Damn it, we hadn't kissed. Well, there was that almost kiss the night I told him everything, but that wasn't a kiss. It was a...forehead-touching...almost kiss. So of course it wouldn't be weird, damn it all, why did I do this.
"I don't know," I stammered, "Just wondering."
Of course I romanticized everything. I felt thirteen again, lying in that bed mulling over everything. This wasn't about Sasuke, anyway, I told myself. My journey right now was to help the witch. My journey wasn't about Sasuke.
Sudden enough for me to flinch, his arm wound itself under my waist and pulled me to him. The way he tugged at my midsection ended up with my sprawled half on top of him, and I I looked up at him to see his eyes closed. It was a gesture that silently communicated that, no, it wasn't weird. And when I pondered it for a moment, I figured he had always been mature anyway. It didn't feel like were were thirteen. It didn't feel like any of us were.
That's the thing about being a ninja, you grow up so fast. I don't remember much of a childhood. I remember at the age of six deciding I could accept it if I only lived to be seventeen. Or younger. I remember at age seven deciding I wanted to marry Sasuke Uchiha and do nothing else with my life. I remember at the age of thirteen deciding that maybe marriage wasn't what would happen between us. And now, at eighteen, or thirteen, or eighteen and thirteen, I was thinking about how a bubble bath and a boy resting in my bed was as rare as a cherry blossom tree blooming in winter. And that made me appreciate it more.
I laid my head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat and feeling his chest move with his breath.
"Sasuke?" I spoke. And he rumbled a response. "I appreciate you being here right now. Even if you did walk in on my bath." He tensed, but relaxed when I buried my face in his chest. His only response was to tighten his grip on my waist. I wondered briefly if he was embarrassed.
That thought sent me to sleep with a smile on my face.
Hey look I didn't make you wait for like a year for me to update! And I give you what appears to be a filler chapter instead. Well it's not! Okay, it kind of is filler, but obviously some good...stuff...you know
Who am I kidding I'm going to shut up now.
Sp beautiful people, thank you for all your reviews! And the people who favorited and alerted it! I'm going to tell you right now that from here on out it will be very AU. Everything before has followed fairly close to the original story arc, but not anymore really. I mean, you can kind of tell.
Tell me what you think! Any typos I would love for you to point out. I am not good at proof reading :) Bye bye!