a/n I'm sorry for the delay! inspiration was hard to come by this month. Summer is just around the corner here in Australia and sweet lord am I both scared and excited - scared for melting and excited for holidays! I really enjoyed hearing from you wonderful reviewers as always, you're all wonderful people.
The first thing she noticed was the taste of her mouth. She was unaware of her surroundings; she knew she was at least somewhere comfortable with her face pushed in a pillow. Well, better than waking up in a gutter. Regardless of these facts, the taste of her mouth was what brought her back to consciousness. It was the sour aftertaste of vodka and sweet juice that she had stupidly over-consumed the previous evening. She tried to roll over in the blankets she was wrapped in and was rewarded with an almighty throb to her head. It was if someone had stuck a whistling kettle inside her head.
She couldn't remember ever feeling this hungover before in her whole entire lifetime. Not even after any of the times that she had been forced to drink with Tsunade, had she ever felt this utterly repugnant. She knew that her day would be spent with her head in a toilet bowl, heaving up all her regrets and poor drinking decisions and feeling sorry for her-self.
Wait a minute!Her eyes flew open. Regrets. She caught a flicker of a memory flashing through her mind - a fuzzy scene at a crowded bar with a man with a wolfish grin. Kiba! Sakura's breath caught in her throat as her heart slid pathetically and excruciatingly into the depths of her stomach. She had gone home with Kiba the previous evening. Oh no. Sakura could feel bile rising up in the back of her throat. She'd been so determined to forget about Sasuke and her bruised heart that she had agreed to go home with Kiba as soon as he had suggested so.
The burning and acidic hatred she had for herself was so intense that she truly thought she was going to be sick. She was scum, she was worthless, she'd been a fool to even try and begin to trick herself into believing that things between herself and Sasuke were through. Did she really have to go jumping into someone else's bed to forget Sasuke? This was all so wrong. She cradled her face in her hands and fought back the urge to cry.
"Fuck." She hissed hoarsely to herself.
It was then that she heard a peculiar crunching sound. She opened her eyes to meet the pale white ceiling of Kiba's apartment. Hang on. Hadn't Kiba's bedroom had a different lighting fixture to that? She was certain that he had a squarish looking light not a spherical one. She heard the crunching again. She turned her head to investigate but was surprised when she was met with a large green cushion. That's strange. She reached out and felt the fabric. Couch, this is…COUCH! She'd never been so happy in her life to be on a couch.
"Good morning, Sakura-san." She sat up and meekly peaked over the back of the couch to the small table in the kitchen of Kiba's apartment. Sitting at the table wearing pink fuzzy slippers, a blue robe that was untied and a pair of green boxes, dark lensed sunglasses still in place was none other than Kiba's quiet roommate Aburame Shino. She did a double take, what ridiculous attire. "Please join me there's tea or orange juice, but nothing else."
She squinted her eyes in confusion to the odd way he chose to phrase his sentence, but sluggishly rose from her makeshift bed. She whimpered as her head pounded in large booming throbs, making her regret standing immediately. She shuffled to the table and sat next her ex-classmate and fellow 'rookie nine' member. She reached for the teapot near her not waiting for him to offer. She poured herself a small cup and hastily slipped the black liquid hoping that it would restore some electrolytes.
For a while the unlikely pair sat there in tense silence. Sakura waited and waited for him to break the silence hoping he'd be able to fill her in on how exactly she'd ended up on the couch.
"Erm." She began but was quickly cut off.
"You want to know how you came to be lying on our couch, wearing those clothes?" He drawled in his monotone voice. At his words, Sakura look down and realised that she was not wearing her carefully planned outfit from the previous evening. In stead she was wearing a long t-shirt that fell to mid-thigh, underneath were here black stockings from the previous evening.
"Well, I have a feeling I could get you out of that outfit and into something more comfortable."
Sakura scoffed and rolled her eyes as she remembered Kiba's words from the previous evening. Well, here I am, out of my outfit and in something more comfortable but I definitely don't feel comfortable. Sakura eyed Shino warily shooting him a nervous smile, trying to disguise her sarcastic body language.
"Well, Sakura, didn't I ask you a question?" Shino eyed her impatiently.
"You did...I mean yes you did." Sakura grabbed her head wishing that her headache would subside so that she wouldn't have to waste her chakra healing it. "How did I end up on your couch? And how did I end up in this shirt?" Sakura blinked in realisation, she hadn't been wearing a bra the previous evening. "How did I end up in this shirt?"
Shino paused for a long while before placing a spoonful of cereal in his mouth, so that explained the crunching noise. Sakura sat there listening to each crunch as it grated on her nerves.
"Last night you came home with Kiba." He swallowed his mouthful. "You could hardly stand and Kiba and I set you up on the couch." He placed the spoon in his hand onto the tabletop with a soft thunk. "Kiba then passed you a shirt to change into, you walked into the bathroom at which point it is assumed you put the shirt on. It is not known how long you were in the bathroom for but I had enough time to make myself a honey and peanut butter sandwich. Kiba then forced himself into the bathroom where he found you passed out beside the toilet."
Sakura could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. She was mortified. Kiba had brought her home with the intention of having what could have been a very heated night of passionate love making, well he would have thought that at least and she probably would have wanted it to. She could see herself in her mind's eye sauntering through the streets, hips swaying in invitation towards the wolf like boy. But that was drunk Sakura. In reality she was probably so messy that Kiba was just trying to get her somewhere safe so that she could sleep it off - so she didn't end up passed out in a gutter. Even though she'd embarrassed herself thoroughly in front of Kiba and more uncomfortably Shino at least she hadn't embarrassed herself in front of the whole village.
"I must say, Sakura." Shino continued. "I'm surprised that the shinobi bar is where you chose to be last night."
"What do you mean?" Sakura said reaching for the juice, hoping that the sugar content in that would be higher. "Shouldn't I be asking you why you weren't there?"
"Peculiar." Shino muttered.
"Why? Where should I have been?" She succumbed to her curiosity. What on earth was this strange man getting at? She couldn't help the sarcastic tone that invaded her words.
"Could it be you don't know?"
"Know what?" He looked at her with pursed lips, angry at her interruptions.
"The team posted out in Kumo arrived home last night, having achieved their objective."
"What? They did?" She sat up from her slump in the chair suddenly very awake. Her team was home.
"Naruto was looking worried as they transported the Uchiha on a stretcher – he was wrapped in bandages and looked paler than usual. I couldn't detect any disturbances in his chak-."
"-WHAT!" She screamed.
Flying up from the table and flinging her self at the couch it wasn't long before her hands clasped the thing she was searching for. She yanked her form fitting denim skirt up her hips, pausing to stuff the shirt in a haphazard tuck and secure the buttons in place. She yanked her dishevelled hair up into a ponytail and ran towards the door before cramming her shoes on as quickly as possible.
Sasuke was in the hospital possibly bleeding to death last night and she was walking the streets inebriated with another man. For the second time that morning she feared she would throw up in self-disgust. Her heart was pounding rapidly causing her to breath in shaky little breaths. Her nose stung as she held back her tears of anger.
"Thanks for the hospitality, Shino." The sincereness of her words did not carry to her voice as she was too busy yanking the front door open, nearly pulling it off it's hinges. The cold air stung her exposed arms as she broke out into a brisk run in the direction of the hospital, channelling chakra to soothe her aching brain, along the way.
Sasuke hated hospitals. He'd been in them to many times for too many reasons in his lifetime. Was life always going to be like this? Couldn't he achieve one mission objective without being run through by a psycho? He felt pathetic. He'd caused the whole team to suffer by his stupid mistake. He hated being the weak link. It brought back memories of the feelings he used to get when he and Naruto had still been genin competing with one another for supremacy. Uselessness. How could he achieve anything if he couldn't end a mission without and over night stay in the hospital?
He knew exactly who his attacker had been. As he team had made the long and difficult process of transporting his body back to Konoha he had drifted in and out of conscious, rambling on and on about this and that, delirious in his own blood loss and infection. The wound he had suffered, whilst not fatal, hadn't tickled in the slightest and with lack of expert medics like Sakura on his team he'd failed to receive the best first-aid. All the time in delirium had given him a clear outline in his head of his attacker. He could never have forgotten such striking blue eyes. So the girl at the bar, Mitsuko, happened to be a rogue ninja in association with the rebel group that his team had eradicated. He could have kicked him self, she'd probably lured him into the alleyway with the intent of finishing him off.
He was not looking forward into having to report on that. How was he supposed to explain it without it looking incriminating. He had two options lie to the Hokage and tell her that the girl - what was her name? Mitsuko. – Had lured him into the alleyway for a demonstration of his chidori or he could tell the Hokage the truth and that she had lured into the alleyway for a demonstration for something else altogether. He wanted to kick himself, there's no way it wouldn't get back to Sakura. Where was the nurse with his painkillers? Hopefully they'd bring along something strong enough to knock him out and put him out of his self-inflicted misery.
10 more seconds and I'm ringing this nurse button. He'd never resorted to this form of unnecessary pain treatment but so help him god he needed it right now. He didn't want to admit it to himself, but he was secretly depressed that he'd been in the village for over 12 hours and she'd yet to show her face. He was at the hospital for kami's sake. This was her domain. He clenched his eyes in annoyance at his train of thought and slowly shifted in the bed to reach the call button. No sooner had he placed his finger on the button ready to push, the door to his room flung open.
Standing in the doorway, pink hair falling out of a ponytail, breathing hard and looking straight at him with a mixture of anger and regret stood Sakura. He'd never felt such mixed emotions upon seeing her in his life. A part of him wanted to know why she looked so sorrowful and the other part wanted to recoil in fear at the site of the determined look on her face. The light sheen of sweat across her brow told him she'd just run across the village to get there. He wordlessly watched her as she crossed the room to his bedside, the expression on her face still mixed. She looked so tired, like she hadn't had a proper nights sleep in days. Concern for the woman immediately flooded his mind but he made no move to reach out to her or engage her, instead he laid still and quiet waiting for her to make the first move.
Sakura took in the sight of the man she loved. Most of his torso was encircled with large bandages that to her relief looked clean. There were small bruises here and there, against his shoulder and around his right eye. His lips were dry and split from his hard journey home and there was a moist towel on his head plastering back his inky black locks. It was if a hand had wrapped around her heart and decided to squeeze hard. Whilst her pounding headache was now gone it had been replaced with a feeling of desperation she'd only ever encountered a few times before. How could she have been out being irresponsible the previous evening whilst he was laying here who knows how close to death?
She could feel tears welling up in her eyes; it was all too much she'd seen comrades dear to her heart injured before. She was a medic-nin; she'd seen injuries far more gruesome but for some reason seeing the man she knew she loved more than anyone else in the world, in a hospital bed caused her too much distress.
"Tch, don't cry idiot." Sasuke looked out the window refusing to let her obvious emotions affect him. "I'm fine."
He felt warm chakra start to flow him and he realised that she was wordlessly moving her hands over his body surveying his wounds and doing whatever she could to aid his healing.
"Don't do that. I said I'm fine."
But she wouldn't stop. He grabbed her arm and squeezed hard trying to get her attention but he could tell by the slight shake of her shoulders that her tears had begun to fall.
"Hey." He grabbed her shoulder trying awkwardly to comfort her. He couldn't ignore the excitement her warm flesh incited. When she wouldn't meet his eye he led his finger to her chin and tilted her face to meet his hard gaze. "Why are you crying?"
Sasuke's blunt question repeated through her mind. She listened to it every which way she could, trying to find the meaning in his tone, trying to realise their relationship status just by his four words. But nothing sprang to her mind. Her heart sunk further in her stomach and she knew if she didn't pull herself together then she'd run the risk of completely embarrassing herself. She pulled her face away from his hand and turned it away from him to wipe her tears away, he didn't need to see them. She took a deep breath before facing him again.
"Seeing you in all these bandages really had me worried." She put her hand on his shoulder and gave him a sweet smile. "Don't do it again."
"And seeing you in another man's shirt has me worried." He pulled the fabric around her waist and sniffed it. "Smells like dog."
Sakura tried to hide the look of guilt on her face but was unsuccessful, he quirked an eyebrow at her prompting her to explain. Sakura felt a wave of nausea wash over her as she remembered her hangover.
"Excuse me." She rushed to the bathroom in his room and slammed the door quickly before emptying the contents of her stomach into the toilet – painfully. The vodka burned her throat on the way back up and quivered for a while on the floor after he stomach had no more to give. She groaned as she pulled herself back to her feet. She steadied herself at the sink before splashing water in her face in hope that it would revive her a little.
The look on Sasuke's face as she re-joined the main room was intriguing to say the least. If she hadn't have known better she could have sworn there was traces of laughter on his face. He must have been severely drugged up. The Sasuke she knew never allowed him self to laugh so openly. She eyed him carefully as she took her place beside his bed again. He immediately grabbed her hand and held it firmly.
"Hey Sakura." She memorized the sound of his voice saying her name in such a mirthful way. "I found the painkiller button."
It all made sense now. In the time that she had been absent from his bedside he'd found the painkiller button that controlled the flow of painkillers to his IV drip. With a wound as large as the one he'd endured he must have been feeling a load of pain. A wave of guilt rushed over her again as she scolded herself for not being by his side the previous evening. On the plus side a drugged up Sasuke is something I've never seen before.
"Oy." Sasuke shook her hand. "Why do you smell like dog?"
The pout he pulled was altogether not so very Sasuke but oh so very cute. She repressed a grin as she realised the situation.
"Well, I." Sakura begun but faltered, searching for a proper explanation. "Well I went to the shinobi bar last night, which explains why I wasn't here to treat you. No one told me that your team had arrived home last night. Anyways, aside from that, I drank a little too much last night and Kiba set me up on his couch cause he was worried I wouldn't make it home. Aburame Shino helped."
She added the Shino part so that it looked less suspicious. The last thing she needed was for Sasuke to go hunting down Kiba and starting something all too aggressive.
"He lent me this shirt!" She said as she realised what his question had been.
"Oh." He nodded reaching for the water on the bedside table but spilling it everywhere. Sakura rushed to help him, waving his hands away. "Make sure you give it back to him. I don't want you wearing another man's clothes."
She smiled at him as she helped him drink from the cup of water she had poured for him.
"You're so pretty." He reached out and brushed his hand across her face with a little too much force. "Why do you waste your time on me when you're so pretty."
"How many times did you press the button, Sasuke?" She scoffed.
"How many times did you press the button, Sakura?" He mocked her, childishly.
"Oh boy." Was all Sakura could say. She was too surprised by his behaviour.
"Oy," He poked her hard in the stomach. "You're the one who should be in bed. I heard you in there vomiting." He grabbed her arm and before she knew it he'd pulled her into his bed, luckily on the side that his wound wasn't concentrated on.
She expected him to smell like the hospital, like disinfectant and the fresh linen. She'd expected this to completely mask his scent, but it hadn't. She nestled into him enjoying the feel of his warm skin against, letting it warm her tender head. She breathed him in feeling her heart swell when he ran his hand lazily up and down her bare arm.
"Your parents are so smart." He smiled up at the ceiling, putting his free hand behind his head.
"Oh?" Sakura closed her eyes and listened to the rumble of his voice reverberate through his chest. "How so?"
She felt his chest shake with his laughter, it was breathy and full of a cheekiness she'd not known he'd possessed. It shocked her to realise that he sounded almost like Naruto.
"Because, they said if I went out on a mission and came back bloodied up then you'd talk to me again." He grinned obviously pleased with himself. "I wanted to go on a mission anyways so it worked for Me."
"So you deliberately let yourself become wounded?" Her voice became stern. "Just to talk to me?"
"Not deliberately. I didn't mean to get wounded. That damn girl." He slurred through his words.
Sakura let the information sink in. Sasuke must have gone to her parents and asked for advice when they had been fighting all those weeks ago. What a brat I was! She was glad that Sasuke was so drugged up. She didn't think she would have been able to handle the embarrassment had he been sober. Suddenly his words repeated in her mind. That girl? Which girl?
"Sasuke, what girl are you talking about?" She asked him softly trying to keep her tone neutral.
"Huh?" He mumbled, as he struggled to stay awake. "Oh, a girl in Kumo. She was supposed to be good but it turns out she was bad, very bad and very strong."
"Stronger than you?" Sakura was intrigued, she'd never be able to have this conversation with him another time but Sasuke just responded with a cocky laugh.
"Nobody is stronger than me." He closed his eyes and rolled his head so he was facing her. "When can I get out of here? I hate this hospital."
Sakura crawled to the end of the bed to retrieve his chart. She felt sorry for the poor man beside her. These hospital beds were in no way comfortable and she doubted he'd be able to get any rest at all in this place. She already knew that most of the nurses were afraid of him and the other half would be falling over each other to catch a glimpse of him. Maybe taking him home for bed rest would be the best for him. She could always treat him further at home as he needed it, his wounds weren't so bad anymore. She looked over the chart to see that he had no more pressing procedures of blood work results that he needed to stick around for.
"Sasuke?" She grabbed his leg to get his attention. "How do you feel about returning home to rest? Of course I'll have to stick around and look after you though."
He stirred from his rest looking at her through half lidded eyes, he nodded. She smiled at him sweetly before crawling out of the bed, being careful of her tender stomach.
"I'm going to organise it with the staff." She grabbed the control for the painkiller medication and moved it out of his reach. There was no point moving him if he was unconscious.
Sasuke watched the small woman lying beside him whilst she slept. She had changed into one of his shirts out of loyalty to him and she now slumbered peacefully. He felt concern swell in him when he realised just how ill she'd been feeling the whole morning. She hadn't complained about it or made any reference to it and if it wasn't for the vomiting fit he'd overheard at the hospital he was certain he would have been none the wiser.
As soon as she'd gotten him home, with the help of some orderlies from the hospital, she'd set about making sure that he had access to painkillers and that none of his wounds had reopened during the move. He'd felt a little apprehensive when he realised that needle full of painkillers was destined for the fleshy part of his buttocks, but she administered the drugs with expert precision and professional manner. She then spent a time running her healing chakra through his body, aiding his healing process as far she could before collapsing beside him.
He had to admit; he hardly felt any discomfort at all anymore. There was a slight twang of pain when he sat up but if he took it easy and slowed his movements he was certain he could stand, or at least make it to the bathroom and back. He stood slowly and waited for his body to be ready before he started stumbling towards the bathroom. He awkwardly made his way to the toilet and relieved his aching bladder. Afterwards he stood in front of the basin inspecting his wounds, or what he could see of his wounds around his bandages. He was sure he'd have another impressive scar to add to his repertoire. He grabbed a glass from the side of the sink and filled it with water, he then fished out some painkillers from his cabinet and took the two items back to his bed.
He placed them on the bedside table nearest to Sakura and sat beside her carefully. She roused from her sleep as he moved to get under the covers again and regain the warmth to his now cold feet. Sakura slowly blinked the sleep out of her eyes trying to remember where she was; it had been a while since she had last woken up in Sasuke's room. Realisation dawned on her and a smile spread across her face she was back with Sasuke. A few days ago she'd thought this would never be possible. She was surprised by how easily they'd fallen back into being comfortable with one another.
He motioned her to look at the medicine and water he'd laid out for her and she smiled and took it gratefully. She was feeling better but she had exhausted a lot of chakra on him, willing his wounds to be non-existent. She settled down in his arms afterwards and sighed in relief. They had a lot to talk about but for now just being in one another's company was enough.