Summary: A brief one shot in which rules are broken, bonds are created and the world keeps on spinning.
“I love you.”
“Don’t say it.”
“My honorific. Don’t you dare say it…”
Sakura bit her lip, her pearl white teeth gnawing anxiously on the plump pink skin. Her brows furrowed slightly with confusion, her jade eyes brimming with an ocean of indescribable emotions.
A small wind blew through the air, slicong through the two figures who stood inches apart at the top of the Hokage monument.
Dressed in their casual shinobi attire, they stared each other down, green eyes anxious and charcoal orbs void of all else but blatant disbelief.
It had been two days since the two of them had gotten back from their joint mission in the Land of Iron.
Ten days since Tsunade had instructed them to go help quell a discord that had broken out between the samurai that resided in that land.
Seven days since the both of them had arrived to find a massive civil war raging between two splinter groups that had risen after the Fourth Great Ninja War; the leaders of both scorning the treaties created between the proud samurai and the foriegn shinobi.
Five days since Kakashi had ordered the both of them to split up and infiltrate both factions. He had chosen one of the splinter groups, obviously, and left her to the use of Mifune. It was supposed to be a simple mission, one that even the most basic of shinobi skills could accomplish.
Four days since Sakura held the dying body of her sensei, her green chakra, already near depletion, struggling to cover the wounds that lined his torso, staining the white snow beneath her with viens of crimson and vermilion. His silver hair, usually so unkempt, was slick with blood and as his head lay in her lap, he was staining her own attire with the precious fluid. Her vision had been blurred by tears, her pink lips, chafed and dry, scolding him for being so reckless in his usage of chakra. He had stared up at her, his own eyes glassy, and even had the nerve to offer her a tentative smile through the tears of his torn mask. The pinkette had shaken her head, her pearl white teeth biting her lower lip as she struggled to maintain her focus.
She was beginning to feel drowsy; her eyelids drooped and her hands shook, the chakra flickering every once in a while. The circle of samurai surrounding them stood tall and proud but their anxiety was visible in the way that they fidgeted. Their armor tankled, their swords brushed against the protective hilts, their breath came out a little too harshly.
Desperate now, Sakura struggled to divert all her energy to the silver haired man, and for a moment, she swore that she blacked out. But the soft fluttering touch of cold fingers brought her back to reality. Her eyes snapped open and that was when she took sight of the fingers, encased in familiar fingerless gloves, tracing simple patterns on her cheek.
Kakashi’s eyes were warm and unbearably soft. They were creased with the familiar crow’s foot, deepening as his smile grew wider. For a moment, Sakura was lost in his dark gaze but then a faint flicker in the same abyss allowed her to become grounded once more.
Tsunade had always told her to maintain eye contact with whoever she was healing. Regardless of the extremity of the wounds or the hopelessness of the case, her gaze should never be broken. The eyes offered a window to the soul, to the life of the person beneath her fingers.
Such a glimpse, Tsunade argued, allowed one to see the good that medical efforts were doing to them. Or, in some cases, the bad.
The eyes told one what to do; be it continue fighting to save the flickering light or to retreat and allow the morphine and the endrophins to claim the victim under the blissful blanket of nothingness.
Kakashi’s eyes were not pleading for his life, nor were they full of fear as most people’s usually were as they hovered on the threshold of life and death. They were calm…full of understanding.
No regret, no despair, no woe.
He knew he was going to die.
And he was ready.
The samurai around her began to bow their heads in respect, their helmets taken off and held steadily at their sides. Eyes closed, they bowed their heads, paying their respects.
Appalled, Sakura turned her head to glare at them, her lips curled into a sneer. “What are you doing?!” She screeched, not caring about formalities or the fact that she was violating about three quarters of the shinobi code. “He’s not going to die! He’s not going to die!”
Emerald green fire landed on Mifune, who was the only member not bowing his head. His eyes were sullen and for a moment, the dark circles and hollowness of his cheeks allowed his age to shine through. There was conflict in his eyes, reminiscent of the pain in his heart. But there was also stoicism in his facade and that was what dominated his actions as he took a step forth, his hand on the hilt of his sword. His mind and his heart were two large parts of him but like all samurai, their mind always dominated the latter.
Even when faced with the inevitable death of an esteemed comrade.
The pinkette’s eyes widened as she caught on to his actions, not at all stranger to their customs. Especially not the all too familiar custom of seppuku.
Enraged, she bent her torso forward, covering Kakashi’s own face and torso with her body. Her fingers dug into the stained material of his ripped flak jacket, green chakra flickering brightly as it attempted to heal anything in the vicinity. Her own eyes shine with the same fever of the sun, it’s sheer intensity almost blinding in its devotion.
“Stay away from him.” She growled, daring the samurai leader to take another step. “This is shinobi business. Stay out of it.”
For a moment, Mifune hesitated, but he quickly composed himself and shook his head. “On the contrary, young Haruno, our current request for aid from the Hokage binds you to us throughout the duration if this mission. Thus, our customs apply to you as well.”
The pinkette froze, trying to recall the mission details from the scroll that had been handed to Kakashi at the start of the journey. Her forehead creased as she pondered but nothing came to her mind. In fact, nothing really did.
Any attempt to ponder was welcomed by a numbing sensation at the base of her skull and the familiar sound of her blood pulsing rapidly in her ears.
Her own heart was beating rapidly, her breath coming out in pained rapid gasps. She didn’t have to be a medic to know what was going on with her.
The fingers on her cheek suddenly grew stiff and the pinkette turned her bead slowly, managing to catch sight of the blue digits falling through the air and landing softly on the ground in a swirl of snowflakes. They didn’t move, didn’t stir, didn’t respond to her own as they wrapped around them, green chakra attempting to warm.
The small breaths that she had felt against her throat had ceased, leaving only a cold draft in their stead. The pinkette, in her disembodied state of exhaustion, took heed of both factors. And she let out only a broken sob before her green chakra flickered and she fell into a heap beside her frozen mission partner.
The first thoughts that raced through Sakura’s mind as she awoke were that of her mother.
The pinkette had never gotten along particularly well with the outgoing auburn haired woman. Their desires and Sakura’s occupation had driven a wedge between them, one that was made deeper when Sakura’s father died from a disease that went undetected until it was too late.
When Mebuki had died, Sakura had been away on a mission. It wasnt until she arrived that she discovered her mother, slumped over her bed with a dastardly smell beginning to trickle into the into the clean atmosphere of their shared house. All the chakra in the world hadn’t been able to save the Haruno and it wasn’t until Sakura collapsed from exhaustion that she found herself accepting the fact.
Autopsy reports revealed the cause of death to have been from natural causes. Sakura knew better though; natural causes didn’t take a strong healthy woman at the cusp of her adulthood.
The death of her husband coupled with the alienation of her only daughter had taken it’s toll on the Haruno’s heart. And unable to bear such heavy weight, it had become broken, just like her soul and body did.
Death by a broken heart.
The second thought that came to mind was that of her sensei and she had all but tumbled out of the medical berth in a frantic attempt to recall her surroundings.
White walls, plain water stained ceiling. Antiseptics fuming the air and coupled with a faint trace if air freshener.
She was back in Konoha.
She was back home.
“Sakura.” The pinkette squeaked, surprised by the smooth baritone sounding behind her. She whipped her head around to stare at the man sitting idly in the room’s single green chair, his hands resting on the armchairs with a false sense of composure. His onyx eyes shone with little emotion and his long raven hair was pulled back into a shaggy ponytail. Faint traces of stubble lined his fine jaw, but that wasn’t what held most of her attention.
It was the slight twitch of his lips, faint but sure, which pulled the corner of his lips into the beginning of a small smile.
“Sasuke.” She didn’t intend for her voice to come out so harshly but it did and she found herself unable to regret her bitter tone.
This man was more or less inclined to it, after all.
The Uchiha leaned back into his chair, nodding. “You seem surprised.” He remarked simply, as if seeing her tumble out of hospital bed in nothing but bandages and a papery hospital gown were nothing out of the ordinary.
The pinkette grimaced at him, rising shakily to her feet. “Surprised is putting it mildly.” She retorted, grabbing onto the railing of the bed as she tried to steady herself against the wave of emotions rolling over her. “What the Hell are you doing here?”
Sasuke shrugged, leaning back slightly in the chair. “Monitoring you.”
That got the pinkette into a fitful rage. “Monitoring me?!” Her fingers curled and the metal between her fingers bent and curled into itself, the noise very well akin to the sound of nails on a chalkboard. Neither seemed fazed by it, however.
Nodding once, the raven haired man replied. “Yes. Monitoring you.” He scowled slightly, his expression almost a mirror image of her own. “Not a task I find myself enjoying at the moment.”
Sakura huffed, “Of course not.” She crossed her arms over her chest, ignoring the fact that the way the gown rubbed across her chest was an indication of her obvious nudity beneath the damn thing. She felt her cheeks heat up slightly as the epiphany hit her, finding the situation more awkward than it had to be. Sasuke took heed of her discomfort but he didn’t say anything, knowing his words would be not only unnecessary but also unwelcome.
Instead, he merely sighed.
Sakura immediately turned on him, eyes suddenly devoid of anger. There was fear in her eyes and something else that he couldn’t identify.
At that, the Uchiha froze, finding himself unable to speak.
“Not a word about this to Sakura. If you so much as hint on the situation, so help me Jashin, I will string you by your testicles from the Second Hokage’s nostril.”
Tsunade’s words held little hold over him. In fact, Sasuke was sure that if the time came to act upon her threats, some diplomatic issue would hold her back.
Sasuke wasn’t troubled by her threats.
If he were honest, it was the request of a particular silver haired man that had him on edge.
Word of Sakura’s actions in the Land of Iron had spread like wildfire throughout Konoha, despite the Hokage’s intent to quell it. Rumors started going around that Kakashi had slept with one of the splinter group’s female leaders to stop the insurgence and that Sakura had killed her off in a fit of jealous rage. Others stated that Sakura had intended to kill Mifune to make a point to rhe opposition. The more ludicrous ones, possibly spread around by a particular blonde acquaintance of both mission members, stated that Sakura and Kakashi had a budding romance going on that had lead to the breach in their undercover operation.
None of those rumors were true, though.
Sakura and Kakashi had indeed gone undercover at the consent of Mifune to find the source of the situation. But the thing that lead to the downfall of Kakashi hadn’t been a samurai, it had been none other than another shinobi. A rogue kunoichi that went by the name of Lotus, hailing from the Land of Earth, had been a key figure in the insurgence. A master of genjutsu, she had been able to detect through Kakashi’s henge jutsu and quickly turned the entire forces of her faction against him. The final blow had been given by her but she had met her defeat at the hands of none other than the pink haired kunoichi of the Leaf.
Things went awry when Sakura chose to heal Kakashi instead of chasing after Lotus and even when reinforcements arrived in the nick of time to save the two shinobi, things remained just as so. Kakashi was pronounced dead by the samurai but a prolonged procedure involving Tsunade sticking her hand through his chest and manually forcing his heart to pump it’s way into a sloggy state of consciousness had saved his life.
She claimed that the information he carried was invaluable but Sasuke knew that the reason went a little deeper than that.
Tsunade had grown dependent on the jonīn. Losing him would be a monumental loss to not only the primary ranks but for her own personal ranks as well.
Something fisted into into the loose collar of his shirt, prompting the Uchiha to turn and face the snarling pinkette’s green gaze. She told him to spill the information that he knew, threatening things that sounded a little too obscene to even be considered realistic. Sasuke kept his mouth firmly closed, his onyx orbs focused on her face. For a moment, he found himself awed by her anger.
As children, she had always been so soft, so girly. Her occasional outbursts of anger had been no different, sounding more like jealous ranting than the emotion she intended to relay.
But here she was now, at the tender age of 20. After so many years, capable of contorting her features to portray the rage she felt inside. She wasn’t beautiful, not at all. But she was much much more intriguing than before. Gone were the days she looked at him with fondling affection, eyes all but giving him a visual of the things she wished to do with him.
Now, all he found himself receiving was her bitter contempt. She smiled on occasions when Naruto was around but he could tell those smiles were full of false bravado. For their blonde friend’s sake, she pretended to love him.
But deep down inside, she felt anything but that.
“Kakashi.” The word slipped out less harshly than before and that’s when everything clicked. Her eyes were flickered with desperation as she muttered their former teacher’s name and her hands shook as she held onto him. “Kakashi…” she whispered and then she was on her knees, doubled over as if in pain.
Sasuke watched her, expecting her to start crying. But she never did. Instead, she merely pressed her palms against the cold floor and remained silent.
“The Council is gathering today to pass the verdict on Sakura’s misdemeanors. The Land of Iron has made it clear that relations between them and the Leaf has reached a point of indecision. For the moment, all she can do is wait. I need you to keep an eye on her. At least until this is over. Think you can manage?”
Sasuke tsked, sitting back down into the chair. Why he agreed to monitor the pinkette at the behest of his former sensei was beyond him but at the very least, he found himself able to escape the tumultuous atmosphere of the village. The breaking relation between the samurai and the shinobi was apparently a popular node of conversation and Sasuke was tired of hearing nothing else buzzing in the air wherever he walked.
The raven haired man glanced down at the pinkette, surprised to see her stoic facade faltering into one of emotionless despair. He grunted his acknowledgement.
“Have you ever been in love?”
The question caught him off guard for a moment, mainly because of it’s sporadic nature but he found himself easily able to answer it. “No.”
The pinkette nodded, “Of course not.” She smiled but without any humor. Her tone lacked the air of finality that she always presented whenever she was around him and the Uchiha noticed she was leaving an opening for him to inquire on her take of the question. But he found himself uninclined to do such a thing. Her answer would probably be the same or worse yet, she would probably mention some sort of positive answer and revolve it around that chunin she’s been seeing for the past year or so.
Hikaru or whatever his name was.
Still, there was a part of him pondering over her answer. His male ego cajoling him to hear her reminisce about a time when all her love was centered only around himself.
Despite his better judgement, he obliged. “What about you?” He asked softly.
Sakura glanced up at him, eyes wide. For a moment, he pondered if she was surprised by his complacence but pretty soon he saw the surprise fade away into despondency. Turning to glance at the window, from which the tiny crack in its curtains shone stray beams of sunlight, she let her eyes droop sadly.
“It doesn’t matter anymore.” She whispered. And for a moment, Sasuke agreed with her. After all, what good would a romance between herself and their former teacher bring about for the village?
It would only add leeway for the Council, giving them more than enough motive to strip Sakura of her titles as a kunoichi. Not only that but the carrier of her affections seemed to be indifferent, almost blatantly opposed to her feelings. Why else would Kakashi disappear on some supposed diplomatic trip to Suna so soon after coming back to life?
Sakura rose from her place and ambled on back to the bed, pulling the covers up to her chin as she lay face up with her eyes analyzing the water stained ceiling. Her green eyes were dull, lackluster.
Dead, for a lack if a better word.
Sasuke’s hands clenched into a fist; of all the times for his deceased brother to pop into his thoughts, why now? His eyes darted over towards the pinkette and for a moment, the pink turned raven and the green became onyx.
He froze, finding the comparison not only unnecessary but also extremely irrelevant. His brother and the pinkette were nothing alike. Itachi had died saving the Leaf, saving the last shred of dignity that the Uchiha clan could ever hope to forebear.
Sakura closed her eyes for a moment, a heavy sigh escaping her.
The Uchiha stayed sitting in that chair for a long time, the mechanisms in his mind twisting and turning, sorting and indexing his aberrant thoughts.
Finally, something clicked. He wasn’t sure what it was or why but a part of him understood her position.
She had fallen trying to save the man she loved. Itachi had done the same, his precious person being his younger brother.
Where did that leave him, if he attempted to let her wilt away, unaware of the fact that he was out there, alive and well?
He cursed himself, knowing he would never live this decision down. But as he made his way towards the hosptial bed and leaned down to hover his lips next to her ear, he couldn’t find the strength in him to resist.
It was with a normal heart, not a heavy one, that he whispered the three words that would bring life back into those green eyes.
Life, he found himself not wishing to notice until it was dying out right beneath his nose.
“Kakashi is alive.”
Three hours since the words had driven her out of her sleep.
Two since she had confessed to him a top the Hokage monument.
One since he had lectured her on her lack of discipline.
Thirty minutes since he had turned to leave and she had reached to grasp his hand, the warmth of his long and lithe fingers nestled in the hollow of her palm making a smile blossom on her face.
Fifteen minutes since her back had been crushed against what she could only decipher to be a door, her lips and hands too busy roaming the still clothed expanse of his throat and shoulders to take heed of their new destination.
Ten minutes since he had warned her of the dangers of their new dynamic, his husky voice not at all in tune with his words of wisdom.
Five minutes since he had whispered three words, breathy and almost incoherent, into the nape of her shoulder as the two of them came together, intimately conjoined.
Three minutes since Sasuke Uchiha was thrown across a hosptial room in a place on the opposite side of the village by a pissed off Hokage.
Two minutes since the Elders decided on Sakura’s revokotion of her title as a kunoichi.
A minute since Sakura, wrapped up in the toned but warm embrace of her silver haired lover, decided that she didn’t give a damn about the consequences their actions would bring about as a result.
Thirty seconds since Lotus drew her last breath at the hands of her village’s ANBU retrieval squadron.
A second since the world kept on spinning, completely oblivious to the intangible dilemmas of its inhabitants.