For MusingSkeleton.

Happy ununbirthday!

Hope you enjoy :P


Sakura in Wonderland


Sakura steps away from the white cot, navigating through the endless web of wires. They are hooked up to a set of machines, and now that their incessant beeping has stopped Sakura's job here is done.

The patient has been stabilized with quick but precise work at her end, and now he is to be left to the nurses crowded around him.

At the sink in the small room adjacent, Sakura slips off her gloves and washes her powdery skin. After drying off, she reaches for her ring, only to grab at air as her fingers pressed against the cold marble countertop.

She immediately checks her pockets, but finds them empty.

In a sudden moment of clarity Sakura remembers her office, and then how she had been typing at her desk. The metal of her ring had pressed uncomfortably into her skin as her fingers dashed across the keyboard, and so she had taken it off and kept it on a cotton in her drawer, to keep it safe within the softness.

As she makes to exit the room, a blur of white catches her eye. Sakura turns to the window and sees nothing but the glistening sun and swaying leaves.

A passing bird, that's all.

She rolls her eyes and enters the corridor.

Now, there seems to be a flock of white birds passing by the hospital. Everytime Sakura passes by a window, she registers the white blur at the corners of her eyes.

Once she reaches her office, she's convinced she is just seeing things.

But then her drawer is empty, no ring nor cotton where she is absolutely sure she put them just before the surgery. And at the edge of her line of vision there's that white blur again, and she whirls around to chase it. She is absolutely sure that thing, whatever it is, is the thief. When she has lost sight of the speeding mass once more, she huffs with an angry tick in her brow.

And then she sees white cotton laying on the floor at the corner of her desk, and she sighs, because she must have dropped her ring and cotton in her mad dash to the emergency ward.

But then she grabs the cotton ball and it's so fluffy and it wiggles so she drops it in shock.

A white rabbit glares at her, swinging a pocket watch in its paw. A golden chain dangles from its clutch, and lo and behold, her ring sways with it, the ruby red sparkling amidst the shining gold. The chain had been threaded through its hoop.

"HEY! Give that back right this instant, mister hare!" Sakura fumes.

The rabbit hops away as her hand swipes at air.

"I'm a RABBIT, and a MISS, thank you very much! But no time for that, no time at all! I'm very very late, and I must get going right away!" she jumps to the windowsill.

"Oh no you don't! That's my ring you've got there, and it's very precious to me, so I don't care how late you are you are giving it back now !" Sakura chases her to the window.

"I'm late I'm late I'm late! My Lady is going to kill me, and I've left Tonton all by herself down there!" The white rabbit jumps to a tree branch, and then dashes through the forest.

Sakura grits her teeth and follows close behind.


Even while pushing the muscle in her legs to their limits, the rabbit remains bounding ahead of her.

Eventually the dense forest opens up into a clearing, and Sakura follows the bouncing rabbit into the meadow, to the very center where a cherry tree stands atop a small hill.

The white ball of fluff slips in between the tree's roots.

"Oh no no no, I'm overdue. I'm really in a stew!" the rabbit's squeals echo, and Sakura bends down and sees an opening in the earth. The rabbit has gone down there, and really if she just squeezes herself she can make the fit— and so down the rabbithole Sakura goes.

Screaming as she plummets down, down, and down.


She falls with a thud on the damp soil of a dark forest floor. The landing is surprisingly soft.

Sakura jumps and whirls around, scanning her surroundings for any sign of her white rabbit, but she is nowhere to be found. No paw prints, no tell-tale sound of anything having passed through.

Nothing but the silence, fog, and looming black trees.

And so Sakura makes her way in a random direction of her random choosing, and delves deeper into the forest.


At some point she acknowledges the fact that she's being watched, somehow. She can't see anything, but there's an invisible something following her.

The prickling at the back of her neck is a sure warning, and if she had learned anything as a kunoichi it's that trusting your instincts is always the right way to go.

And so she makes her awareness known.

"Whoever you are, I know you're there! It's best you just come out and show yourself!" she calls into the treetops.

Right up above her on a long branch, a mouth smiles itself into existence. Beneath grinning lips is a mark, and then a nose appears above the floating ensemble. Lazy, hooded eyes open and peek down at her, dark and shining with delight.

"Why, hello there! Didn't quite notice you before, sorry for that—although how I didn't notice such a vibrant pink running amok within this gloomy forest, I'm not quite sure…" a deep, disembodied voice accompanies the glowing smirk.

Sakura narrows her eyes. "Ya right, pretend you weren't tailing me these last few kilometers; I dare you."

A chuckle reverberates across the tree trunks, and a body finally appears around the suspended face.

A silver cat is lounging across the branch, paws beneath his head and tail curled around an orange book. Sakura notices a scar striking straight down his left eye.

"Who are you?! And what do you want with me?"

The cat's features take on a look of disbelief. "Why, you should know. I'm the cheshire cat, and not to worry, I have no business with you at all." His lips stretch once more into a smile, and Sakura feels unsettled at the sight, as if she shouldn't be seeing it.

The cheshire cat's head flips upside down, and his body follows suit.

"Well, I've introduced myself for no reason at all. Now, go on. You try it."

Sakura purses her lips. "Well, I'm Sakura, as you should already know."

The silver feline slinks through the air and around her shoulder before her eyes can follow the movement.

"Alright then, Sakura. I suppose you'd best be on your way." He dances around her.

"What way? All I want is to catch that damn white rabbit and get my ring back!"

Dark eyes crinkle into a smile of their own. "Oh? I didn't see her, but then I suppose I can direct you to someone who might know where your rabbit is headed."

Seaglass green eyes widen. "You can? And you will?"

"Of course. Anything for my favorite student."

"And so who exactly might know where my rabbit is?"

"Well, the mad hatter would know. I don't involve myself in such things, but I'm sure he would know." He loops a figure-eight and settles back in the air.

Sakura bites at her lip. "Um, well, is there anyone else who might know where she has gone?"

The cat pops into the air back above his branch, and lays himself across the wood. "I'd say you ask the mad hatter," he points to her left, "or the march hare," he points right.

"The march hare. Well, I'll be looking for him, then— "

An amused hum interjects her speech. "Of course, he's also mad."

Sakura frowns. "Oh."

She heaves a huff up at the lazing feline. "And what if I don't exactly want to go among mad people?!"

The cheshire cat's grin widens impossibly more, beauty mark stretching alongside it.

"Ohh, you can't help that!"

His hooded eyes widen.

"Most everyone's mad here!"

A chuckle, and then another, and then full-blown laughter.

Sakura watches with a silent, shocked wonder.

The laughing dies out, and then the cat tilts his head.

"I'm not sure if you've quite noticed, but I'm not all that there myself."

With wide eyes she sees the silver fur coat of his body unravel into swirling bindings, and then his face is just a crescent moon and a set of eyes floating about. They blink, and then he's gone, the shine of his grin fading into the darkness, and an orange book plopping down from a disappearing tail.

The book falls from his perch up high in the branches.

A paw quickly materializes and snatches it before it hits the ground.

For a few moments Sakura is left blinking up at the canopy above, wondering if she had imagined the whole encounter.

But then she shakes herself out of her stupor and wanders down the road to the left.


At long last Sakura arrives at a small clearing. As she gets closer, she sees a long table with an assortment of funky dining chairs, and teapots and teacups stacked high across the glossy surface. At the head of the table she spots a figure with a large top hat, black hair hiding a face from her view. To the side sits a yellow hare, whiskers bouncing with the zeal of his frenzied movements. He hoists his teacup high, golden liquid sloshing out, and clamps a paw on his companion's shoulder.

"A very very happy unbirthday to us!" He sings a merry tune.

"Hn. Happy unbirthday to me, and you, and him as well," the man with the top hat joins in, just as a mouse pops out of the teapot between the two, and hiccups.

"Yes, yes, merry unbirthday to everyone, but all I'm trying to do is sleep. Your celebration is a drag."

The dormouse puffs out a curling cloud of smoke, and plops back into his pot.

The march hare shrugs.

The mad hatter sips at his tea without a care.

Sakura approaches the jolly tea party with quiet caution. After all, the party-goers are supposedly mad.

When they pay no heed to her approach, she plops into a cushioned chair.

"Ah! No room, no room!" the march hare cries.

"No room for you, my dearest," the mad hatter follows.

The dormouse opens an eye to peek.

Sakura frowns. "Why, I thought there was plenty of room to spare."

The mad hatter scowls, and the march hare huffs.

"Alright," they say.

Sakura smirks.

"Would you like some hot sake?" The march hare offers.

"Oh no, that's fine."

"Suit yourself." He rips open an instant-ramen, pours hot water from the teapot, and digs in impatiently.

"Oh, you're supposed to wait a few minutes before eating now," Sakura points out with a crease in her brow.

"Don't bother, he's mad," the dormouse states, eyes still closed.

She huffs.

"And what brings you here, Sakura?" the mad hatter inquires.

"Sakura? Ah, that's right, you ought to know my name."

He shuts his purple eye, and nods. "That's right."

"Yes, well I'm looking for the white rabbit. I was told you would know where she is."

"Told? By whom?"

"The cheshire cat."

A frown mars his pretty features. "Of course, that sly old dog— "

" — cat, " she cuts in.

"Yes cat , whatever. I ought to throw him into the river next time."

The march hare cackles at the mad hatter's irritability.

Sakura gasps. "That's an awfully mean thing to do to an old cat!"

The dormouse giggles in his sleep, "don't bother, he's mad. That cat's mad too."

Sakura furrows her brows, "and what about you, mister mouse?"

His eyes shoot open. "Me?...hmm, I guess I'm mad too." He shuts his eyes once more. "What a drag, a very draggy drag."

Sakura pinches the bridge of her nose. "Well now, everyone's mad. But will I get any sane answer to the question I posed earlier?"

"The white rabbit?" the march hare asks, blue eyes wide.

"Yes, the damned rabbit. Does anyone here know where she is?" Sakura calls out.

The mad hatter tilts his head, silky black strands falling into his face. "Why do you ask?"

"Because that ball of fluff stole my ring. It's a very precious ring, you see. So I need it back."

The march hare nods fervently. "I see, I see."

The mad hatter smiles, a small and gentle smile. "Your ring. Does it glint a ruby red," his black eye glows crimson, "like this?"

Sakura's mouth drops open in wonder. "Yes, just like that!"

"I see. Well, the white rabbit is definitely headed to the palace. To her lady, the queen of hearts."

Sakura hurries out of her seat. "And which way would that be, please? This way? That way? Yonder? Or back?"

The mad hatter chuckles, and swings out of his chair. "Settle down, Sakura. Wait a moment."

He lifts his right hand out of his pocket, and holds it out. "I believe I have your ring."

Sakura's eyes widen almost comically. "Give that here! That's mine..."

He smirks. "I'm the one who gave it to you in the first place."

Pink brows furrow. "You are?"

"I am."

He clutches the ring to his chest, and heads straight to her in long, elegant strides. The march hare and dormouse watch silently, and Sakura stares at him in bewilderment.

"And now, I give it to you once more," the mad hatter slides the golden band onto her ring finger, "and forever more," he promises.

He brings her hand up to his lips, and presses a soft kiss into her skin.

Sakura's face goes beet red.

"Oh," she squeaks.

Mismatched eyes gaze up at her, hooded and dark.

"Sasuke," she murmurs. Her hand cups his cheek and brings his face close. Pink eyelashes flutter shut as his warm breath fans out against her skin.

"Sakura."

"SAKURA."

"SAKURA!"

Green eyes blink open and she jumps up in surprise.

"OW! Forehead, your forehead hurts like hell," Ino groans, rubbing at her own forehead.

Sakura stares at her, rubbing at her bruised skin. Her eyes roam about, and she realizes she's in the meadow, underneath the old cherry blossom tree.

"What happened?"

"You dozed off mid-sentence!" Ino exclaims. "I'm not surprised; you get way too little sleep, Sakura. Your chakra exhaustion on that mission is not helping you at the moment."

Sakura's mind clears. "Oh."

"Ya. You owe me another gossip session. I let you sleep through this one like the caring best friend I am, but seriously, Sakura. And I had to wake you, our lunch break is almost over!"

Sakura frowns and pulls out her pocket watch. The golden chain dangles into her lap.

"You're right."

"Of course I am. Now c'mon!"

Ino rises daintily, and holds out a hand. Sakura takes it, and as she's hauled up she catches ruby red glinting on her finger.

As they dash back to the hospital, Sakura plays with her ring, twisting it this way and that.

'What a strange dream,' she smiles to herself

~ FIN ~


Notes:

Thoughts passing through my head while I was writing this, Alice in Wonderland theme song playing on loop in the background:

Mad Hatter: Sasuke road to the left 'cause he's left-handed

March Hare: Naruto road to the right cause hand (Yes it's silly, I know)

Dormouse: Shikamaru he's just trying to sleep, man. What a drag

Cheshire Cat: Kakashi KAMUI! *disappears*

White Rabbit: Shizune LADY TSUNADE IS GONNA KILL ME! AND COOK TONTON!

Queen of Hearts: Tsunade She's a GAMBLING woMAN...hence the card :P