by: Midnight Forever
A/N: ...uh, hi. Yeah, I'm not dead, I've just been hella busy these last few years and I've lost desire (and frankly, faith in my writing ability) to write, so there hasn't really been anything new. But recently (as in with SasuSaku month) I've gotten back in Naruto fics, and I've fallen deeper in love with Tsunade and Sakura's bond, and I wanted to try and show others how I imagine it to be. I guess part of it is that I empathize with Sakura to an astounding level and I see Tsunade as my mom, as this loving pillar of strength. The style this is written is a bit different than my normal, but I liked how it flowed with the theme I was going for. So without further ado, please, enjoy.
It was the first thing she recognized, the soft, warm, sugary scent that accompanied the rustling of fabric and slowly turned pages. She shifted her head, each limb, vein, cell feeling like it was pulsing, seeking the energy that it was so deprived of. It took her longer than acceptable, at least by her standards, to remember why her body ached, why her joints felt like they would creak and shatter, why she could track her pulse so easily because it was pounding in time, painfully, at her temples.
She had been at the hospital (when wasn't she these days?), three-quarters through her shift, and her fourth cup of coffee in her hands, scrawling her notes on the last patient's file. The daytime hustle and bustle had died down, now nearing late evening, the shift change having occurred an hour earlier so the staff was focused, not counting down the hours, minutes, seconds until they could clock out for the day.
"Hey Amaya, can you get me the inventory book?" she addressed one of the nurses at the front desk, before taking another deep drink, letting the smooth mixture of cream, sugar and coffee slide past her tongue, the brief hint of hazelnut accompanying it, until the liquid slipped down her throat.
"Eh, Sakura-sensei? I thought Hisoka was in charge of replenishment." The nurse voiced, before rising to retrieve the logbook.
"He is, but I've been noticing a shortage of some things so I wanted to-"
The main doors flew open, crashing loudly against the walls, already swinging back with force, and bodies were piling into the previously quiet building. The murmur of conversation, the scuff of shoes and clanking of metal weapons being set down drowned out the silence, blood dripping from shoddy field-bandaged wounds, running like rivers along the cream tile.
A breathy, exhausted voice called out, "Sakura-chan," she barely registered the cup sliding from her fingers and smashing into porcelain pieces on the ground, chakra already thrumming against her fingers, reaching out to heal what was hurt, fix what was broken.
She worked herself into this position, she thought dully, brought back to the present. So consumed with seeing the whisker-cheeks of her only remaining teammate, cuts giving way to deep-red blood that stained his clothes, his blue eyes sparking just enough in recognition, joy, before slipping shut and his body collapsing on the floor. How many days, weeks, months had she been toiling her days away, purposefully clocking more hours at the hospital, waiting for his return, waiting in the place that she could help him the most if he needed her, so she wouldn't have a second of an excuse as to why she couldn't save him.
The medical staff had already jumped into action, time had seemed to slow to a crawl, her heartbeat echoing with the ticking of the clock, there was so much blood, but it was the form that her teammate had been holding up that had her frozen. At least it felt like she was frozen, feet stuck to the ground no matter how much chakra she used to lift her legs, it felt like all the gravity of the world rest on her, head spinning.
Black hair, pale skin, paler still with the amount of blood that was sliding down his chest, arms, neck, more blood than she'd ever seen him lose, eyes screwed tight in pain but he seemed unconscious because when Naruto fell to the ground so did he.
Fluttering her eyes open, which took considerable energy, energy she didn't have, couldn't afford to waste, the harsh light of the florescent bulbs (or was it from the sun?) blinded her, and she blinked rapidly. Sucking in a breath, she heard the pages stop turning, and solid click of heeled shoes come closer, before that brightness, that blinding, scorching whiteness, was shadowed, and cool skin met her forehead.
Vanilla washed over her again, and this time she breathed slower, deeper, letting the scent she had become so familiar with sweep over her, like the tide, it rose higher and higher, drowning her in serenity, until she finally opened her eyes again, and the light faded to clarity, colors seeping into the sharp angles that made furniture, walls, windows, that were once shadows and blurs.
The hand that rest against her forehead shifted, thin fingers, fingers that belied their astounding mountain-shattering strength, fingers tipped with blood-colored nails (Sakura always wondered if her shishou painted them that color so she couldn't distinguish the blood caked on them, under them), lightly brushed back her hair, tucking strands behind her ears, before resting on her cheek. Hair the color of sand, the sand of Suna, that was so warm, drifted into her vision, and as her eyes lifted, passing over the olive-green robe, rose colored lips, to eyes the color of warm honey, softened by love and worry.
Sakura let out the breath she didn't know she had been holding, all tenseness erased. Cracking her lips open, she let out a whispery "Tsunade-shishou," the words barely taking form outside of her, when the cool glass of a cup pressed against her lips, fresh water, water that tasted like it came from the clean mountain springs of Lightning country, slid down her throat, soothing the dry, cottonmouth, was it possible for something to taste blurry?
The mattress beneath her, forgotten until the moment it dipped with Tsunade's weight, seemed to grow firmer, and she felt her muscles twitching, clawing to find a more comfortable spot. Raising her eyes once more to her master, she started to prepare herself, prepare to hear they were imprisoned, dead, already rotting, because who knows how long she was unconscious, really, and no amount of trying was bringing back the memories of the hours she spent stitching tissues and organs back together, stemming blood leaks, setting bones, and reconnecting nerves. Did she just work on Sasuke, or did she heal Naruto too? She couldn't remember, and that was the most frustrating thing of all, not the ache in her muscles, the exhaustion that clung to her and that steadily grew, not the quivering of her arms as she pushed herself up. Something so important, that would decide so much of her future, was utterly absent from her mind.
Reading the expression on her face, one that she so often saw mirrored, Tsunade's lips tilted up, before she let out a soft, calm breath.
"They're just fine."
Tsunade saw the words slowly digest in her student's ear, the ticking of the clock marking the time, as Sakura's green, verdant like Konoha in summertime, flicker, before shoulders sagged with escaping breath, and Sakura fell back against the pillows.
"And they're waiting for you."
Involuntary, hell everything was involuntary, she wanted to stop breathing just to quiet the aching that each intake of breath made against her ribs, her lips quirked up and something of a bark of a laugh managed to wriggle itself out. Her eyes shut, basking in the shadows once again, heart fading from an anxious pounding to steady slow thumps. After all this time, now she was the one keeping them waiting. The irony was not lost on her, and later she would remark upon it, cajole them about getting so hurt in the first place, to not even send advanced notice.
Silently she reached out, fingers splayed, the apple-green polish that had been chipped away from excessive chakra use, before resting on Tsunade's cool hand, the hand which lent her strength whenever she asked, which taught her how to find strength in herself, the hand which curled around hers, a quiet acceptance of comfort, of support.
She lost herself, breathing deep, and searching for her center, for balance, the scent of vanilla brushed against her again, taking her deeper, farther, surrounding her with pillows like clouds, and air warm from a summer morning. She never told her master how calming her scent was. The vanilla extract Tsunade added to salves and teas, the soap she washed with, and the thick lotion she used after spending the day training with Sakura and the skin of her hands were cracking, bleeding, raw. The scent that clung to her clothes, that Sakura could sometimes smell on the documents that had been sitting on Tsunade's desk too long, the scent that reminded her of hours spent in the library learning basic medical techniques, of her fingers and hands cramping from writing out dissertations and thesis papers, and creating new techniques.
Smiling slowly, curling her fingers around the hand she drew such strength, support, knowledge, and love from, she rested.
For the first time in years, she could stop worrying, stop fretting, pacing, preparing, thinking, because they were alive, they were waiting for her, and everyone was alive, and she could finally rest.
A/N: Vanilla was the scent I attribute to my mother, it was always what she wore from perfume to lotion, and she would leave the house in a little cloud of it, that if she put too much on it would almost smell sickeningly sweet, with a bit too much alcohol in the perfume, but it was her, and it simultaneously makes my heart ache and warm when I smell it.
If you could, reviewing would be wonderful. I know I've been gone a long time, but I'm anxious to see if others can see this pair like I see them. Ja ne.