Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, its characters, its storyline, or any related trademark.
Author's Note: Look I did something!
A Week Left Waiting
She's unbearably quiet, but he can understand that. He doesn't deserve her words. He stays quiet, too, because she deserves better words than his.
He spends the entire visit keeping his eyes focused on anything but her. The lump in his throat keeps him from saying anything. Only when the visit's over does his throat relax, but a heavy weight settles in his heart instead.
She still says nothing, and he does not know what to say to her. What words can he speak that will cut away the rusted wall between them? He tries to look at her this time, but the thought alone makes his chest ache.
He doesn't want to see her today.
Naruto visits him and slaps him affectionately on the shoulder – his still injured shoulder. "Dobe," he grumbles.
Naruto chuckles at his greeting but his face quickly falls into something much more solemn. Something less… Naruto. "It's not your fault, you know."
Sasuke has to struggle to keep a straight face. His jaw trembles with effort and his eyes burn. "…I know," he grunts.
"…Do you?" Naruto asks. "Do you really? Because you haven't spoken a word to her. I may not know Sakura as well as I'd like to believe, but I know that the only thing she would want is to know that you're going to be okay."
Sasuke drops his gaze and stares at his hands. He stares at the creases and callouses and even though his hands are clean they still feel like they're covered in blood. "I can't."
"Why can't you? She's waited for you for so long. Is it really so bad to let her know that she doesn't have to wait anymore?"
Sasuke's shoulders slump and he refuses to look up at his friend.
"I'll come back later," Naruto says softly as he leaves.
The time has come. Sasuke clenches his hand into a white-knuckled fist. His blunt nails dig into his palm. The lump in his throat won't budge.
He can't do it.
He stares at the wall on the opposite side of the room and pretends he isn't crying.
"I am… not happy with you, Sasuke."
Well that's the understatement of the century. Sasuke turns his head away from his ex-sensei and shifts uncomfortably under the weight of guilt mixed with self-loathing.
Kakashi sits down in a chair. "I am not happy with myself, either. I made a promise to all three of you, and I failed at keeping that promise quite spectacularly."
"…It wasn't your fault."
"Maybe not," Kakashi says. "But would you believe anyone if they told you the same thing?"
Sasuke remembers Naruto's words from two days before. His eyes burn. "But it is my fault – no matter what anyone else says."
Kakashi moves to stand next to Sasuke. He places his hand softly on Sasuke's shoulder. It's a strange, reassuring touch – something that Sasuke hasn't felt in years.
"Does that change the fact that people have chosen to forgive you? That you want to be forgiven?"
Sasuke drops his gaze and raises a hand to his face, both surprised and ashamed to find that he's crying. He rubs the tears away as quickly as he can, but it doesn't matter because Kakashi has already seen them.
He stares at the floor and doesn't bother trying to save face. He's tired and he doesn't want to care anymore.
"I should have been there for you," Kakashi says.
Yeah, you should've, Sasuke wants to bite out. But it's not true. Kakashi had been there, he'd just been too far gone.
…or maybe they'd both been at fault.
"I'm sorry, Sasuke."
Kakashi's hand moves to rest on Sasuke's head and gently musses his hair. Kakashi gives him one last solemn glance before leaving.
Sasuke's hand shakes as he opens the door to her hospital room. The beeps and clicks of the monitors cut painfully through the fragile atmosphere.
He sits in the chair next to her bed. Her skin is pallid and she looks… brittle – like a small breeze could knock her over if she wasn't already lying down.
It doesn't sit well in his chest.
He opens his mouth but the lump in his throat returns. She's here because of him. If she hadn't healed him, he would have for sure died. But if death would have spared Sakura this fate, he would've welcomed it with open arms.
Severe chakra depletion, Tsunade had said. "Fool of a girl tried to use one of my most advanced jutsus before she'd been properly trained in it." Her gaze had softened for a moment, but she seemed to snap back to reality not long later and scowled at him. "…She'll wake eventually – no thanks to you, Uchiha."
Sasuke swallows painfully and tries to force the lump away, but there are no words. What can he say? What can he do?
This is not the Sakura he knows. He doesn't want this Sakura. He wants the Sakura he knows – the real Sakura – back.
He stares at her hand, small and pale, and he gently covers it with his own.
He doesn't know what to tell her, so he tells her the only thing he knows. "I'm home, Sakura."