By: firefly

Note: Had to post this little thing while working on finishing "The Hazards of Amity" and the next chapter of "Sky Runs Red." And yes, still working on those. Suffice it to say, life happens.

As for this, I guess you could call it a mini-series of vignettes. Obviously AU in that Itachi is alive and participating in the Fourth Shinobi War. No real plot or structure. Just moments and interactions. Plus I seriously need to work on writing shorter pieces. I think this is a good place to start. Hope you guys enjoy.

Music: "Reunion" – The XX

AB + O

The situation had to have been bad, he reflected, for the med-team to commandeer the closest civilian building to tend the injured.

The last thing he remembered was Sasuke's arms surrounding him shortly after he'd thrown his chakra-depleted body in front of the weapon meant for his brother. The enemy had immediately been brought down, but the wound had been grievous.

In his desperation, Sasuke rushed out of the field and lost him to the chaotic flood of medics. Now he found himself alone, lain out on a cafeteria table with his body sliding halfway onto the floor.

In here, he was just another haemorrhaging corpse-in-the-making, face blood-stained enough to bar identification from the medics.

The noise around him was deafening, rising and falling abruptly in pitch as he faded in and out of consciousness. There were at least a hundred people around him. He found it odd that despite his surroundings, he'd never felt this alone.

He knew they would not get to him. There were far too many injured lying on the other tables and more coming in. He quietly realised he would die here, alone and untended. Slowly, he eased the pressure on his wound and let it weep.

The doors burst open as another stretcher was rushed in and he shivered at the gust of cold wind that followed. The strength left his fingers and his hand dropped over the side of the table.

Before his head could loll back, cool fingers seized his face and a hand clamped down on his injury.

"Hey, you. Keep your eyes open," the voice ordered.

The fingers then snapped briskly in front of his face. It was enough to keep his eyes from sliding closed. Blearily, he looked up into her face.

Her eyes were narrowed, mouth drawn into a severe line. Despite the hardened expression, her face had an unearthly sort of softness to it, a lingering blur around the edges—as if he was seeing her through clouded glass. His eyes began to close again and this time she flicked him hard in the head.

"Stay awake."

He squeezed his eyes shut. Through the haze of constant pain, he could discern her unyielding weight on his injury. The area was going numb.

Her voice changed direction as she turned to one of the medics.

"Where's his unit? You're losing him."

"We're running low," the medic said hurriedly, connecting one of the last bags to another shinobi. "Blood pills are coming in from the next camp. We're giving priority to the ones just coming in."

"He's still alive. Give him a unit. Now."

"His ID was lost in the field. We don't know his type—"

"Hold here," she interrupted brusquely.

The pressure on his wound disappeared for a moment, then reappeared. He felt the distinct texture of surgical gloves on his skin. Then he felt the table shift and a weight clamber onto it next to him. A leg bumped his side and spiky hair brushed his temple.

"Hurry up and take mine," the voice said right next to his ear.

"But Temari-sama—"

"It's fine." Her voice was sharp. "I'm universal."

He stared resignedly up at ceiling, jostled by the hands that moved to tend to him. Another medic rushed over at her command. He soon felt the warm pulse of chakra over his injury.

The woman next to him took a quick breath as the needle was inserted. The sound stopped him from closing his eyes again. Then she spoke.


He slowly turned his head over the table. When his cheek touched cool metal and his vision came back into focus, he found himself staring into teal eyes. They narrowed even further upon seeing him up close, tracing the blood streaks on his face.

The clarity of her features began to fade again and he felt his eyes grow heavy. Before he could give into the urge to sleep, there was a sudden burst of air in his face. It felt unpleasantly cool on the blood and he cracked his eyes open again. Her face came back into focus. Her lips were pursed.

"I said, eyes open," she repeated.

He didn't know how long it lasted after that; the constant jostling hands, the winding stream of her blood through the tube, the winding stream down into his arm, her voice repeatedly snapping him awake, the occasional gust of air blowing into his face.

He was more preoccupied with his thoughts, musing over the strange circumstance of what were probably his dying moments. He'd always anticipated he would die of illness or in battle. But not like this. Not on a cafeteria table with the Kazekage's sister lying next to him blowing air into his face.

For the umpteenth time, he opened his eyes to hers. The furrow between her brows had deepened. She looked worried. Or exasperated. He couldn't tell. Several times he felt himself slipping away, but it was always that sharp voice and cold slap of air that brought him back.

By now, the blood had hardened on his face, restricting his facial movement. He could only open and close his eyes, and as the latter wasn't an option, he was left to do nothing but gaze expressionlessly upon her face.

She stared back, close enough to see the remnants of fear and regret, fear he felt for the little brother he might leave behind again, regret for the agony and mourning that little brother would endure.

He could see the green flecks in the depths of her irises. Could count her lashes. Watched them lower mere inches from his face when she could stand to look no longer. Strange, he thought reflectively, to share such intimate last moments with a stranger.

He distantly heard the medic tell her to stay down. Felt the table shift as she drew her arm away. His eyes were closing again, brow furrowing in anticipation of the cold air and forehead flick. Instead, he opened his eyes halfway to the sensation of a hand resting upon his brow. It smoothed the matted tangles out of his face and stayed there.

"You're all right."

The severity was gone. Her voice sounded tired.

"You can sleep."

The hand slipped something pliant between his head and the hard surface of the table. Then it was gone.

He opened his eyes. She was gone, too. The table was grey and empty where she'd once been. And soon he himself was gone, slipping off into unconsciousness.

The doors burst open again a minute later and a familiar, panicked voice shouted his name. He didn't stir. His body wilted, relieved, into the cool steel.

He'd have to thank her when he woke up.