There is nothing before there is the order: the order for Sakura to wake. Compelled Sakura snaps her eyes open. Instantly, piercing light causes her eyes to squint, seeing blurry muted colours of brown and black and every shade in between. That lasted barely a fraction of a second before her gaze sharpens. The first thing she focuses on is a mix matched set of eyes—one rinnegan and one sharingan—on a face that is much older than what she saw it last.
Her heart sinks in growing dread.
Sakura understands instantly.
"Are we still fighting...?" she asks, horror lining her words.
Sasuke's solemn nod confirms her worst fears, his words a foreboding of gloom, "Naruto is dead."
Overtaken by despair, Sakura shuts her eyes—as if that would shield her heart from the cruel reality—with hot tears running down the face of her corpse. That's what she is now—no longer living, just reanimated to the whims of her summoner—nothing more than a dead body.
"I don't understand. Where am I?" a masculine voice interrupts, confused but with a measure of authority.
Sakura turns to the corpse beside her and sees a young man—Uchiha, 15 to 17, curly short hair, but most notably—with empty eye sockets.
"Sakura, could you?" Sasuke asks.
It's the fact that he asks, more than her instinctive need to help, more than the fact that he can just compel her, that leads her to help this man. The last time she saw him, Sasuke still had a chip the size of Konoha on his shoulder, being polite wasn't remotely on his radar.
Focusing on her patient is easier than understanding what that means. "Hold still. I'm not going to harm you. I'm just going to return your eyes," she says, voice soothing, while raising glowing green hands to cover his eye sockets. She would never usually waste chakra like this, but the physiology of the undead is different it seems. Her chakra reserves refill almost instantly. She shoves away the thought of how effective her Byakugou seal would be now.
"What's your name?" she asks instead.
"Uchiha Shisui," he gives with an expectant silence.
But Sakura doesn't recognise the name.
"My cousin," Sasuke says helpfully, "He was Itachi's best friend before..." Sasuke doesn't continue and Sakura doesn't expect him to.
The moment her hands lift off his eyes, healing complete, she sees red eyes staring straight back at her—black tomoes spinning wildly round and round—before widening in shock and horror.
Sakura smiles sardonically. She remembers her first time seeing corpses alive with people she used to know—the terror, the rage, the sadness—compounded with the fact he is one, she can only empathise. "I'm so sorry that this is happening to you," Sakura says, knowing it would not help.
Shisui looks down at his hands, skin bleached of colour connected and intersected with black lines. She sees the moment he connects the dots—the horror and rage, and then astoundingly acceptance.
—Or more probably Shisui shuffles it to the back of his mind to be processed later *like all good shinobi do*.
Bringing his red eyes to lay upon Sasuke, Shisui stops, simply staring. "Sasuke..?" The confusion is clear. The horror is carefully controlled.
Sasuke gives a half-nod in acknowledgement, neither happy nor sad to see him. "It's been a while, Shisui."
Sakura wonders how well he actually remembers this cousin of his.
That reminder rapidly brings Sakura into perspective.
"Why did you bring us back?" she demands.
There's something in the air—the fact that this war lasts years, the fact that Naruto is dead, the fact that Sasuke went to *her*—she feels the time shortening with urgency.
Or maybe that was her paranoia—One doesn't just get over dying in the middle of the reality-ending war after all.
Sasuke focuses his attention on her and only her, dismissing his family with a careless disregard. Sakura almost smiles at that. Finally, something familiar. "I'm going to send you both to the past on a mission to fix the present. With your combined knowledge and skill, you'll succeed. You can make sure none of this happens."
Sakura's brow scrunches mystified. "I don't even know how bad the present looks like. *I've been dead for years—*And Shisui even longer," Sakura says, "Why didn't you bring back Naruto? Or go yourself?"
"You know enough to fight Kaguya and Zetsu. Naruto and I are too watched. Sarutobi or Itachi would notice."
Sakura can see it in his eyes—that while those are real reasons—they weren't the main reasons.
"*Why us?"* she asks when she really means *'why me?'*
Sasuke hears though, between them an unspoken language that she thought she hallucinated in her Team 7 days so long ago, too long ago. It is jarring to know he understands her now.
"Itachi trusts Shisui. And I trust.. you—your heart," he finally confesses as if it was the hardest thing to say. "Sakura, I know if anyone can pull this off... It'll be you."
Looking into his eyes, and he hers, she can't for the life of her mask her emotions.
For the first time in years, neither do Sasuke.
(Or maybe not, *she doesn't know, does she?*)
The war has aged him more than the years ever could. Still, *her Sasuke*—broken, remorseful, and full of desperation—is the most beautiful man she's ever laid eyes on.
Even now, especially now—*how do you change if you died?*—her weakness is Uchiha Sasuke.
"Okay," she agrees. "How far back are you bringing us?"
"You'll be five and Shisui will be thirteen. You'll have two years before Danzo makes a move to get Shisui's eyes and three years before the massacre."
"Massacre?" Shisui's words slip out unbidden. They both ignore him, cowards to the end.
"What about Obito?" Sakura says, meaning to reanimate him and bring him to the past with them.
Sasuke doesn't agree, shaking his head. "Shisui can use kotoamatsukami on him if it comes to that."
That doesn't satisfy her at all. Surely he knows it would be easier to send Obito with her. But his eyes are getting flightier as as the time passes, darting away and back every so often. His shoulders never loose their tenseness, and his body is perfectly still. She purses her lips, relenting, "Alright."
"Sakura..." His hand raises awkwardly and the way he pokes her forehead—two fingers, too hard—doesn't cause her to move.
Expecting a seal to activate, she waits but—Nothing occurs.
Confusion fills her green eyes.
The closest thing resembling peace fills his. There's the barest hint of a smile when he says, "Thank you.. for everything."
Sakura doesn't understand what that was, but it's the most affectionate he has been for years. The first time he has ever instigated physical affection between them. So she takes it in stride, time running out, smiling.
Smiling so she doesn't cry.
Sasuke activates the arrays of seals littered across any open surface. They slowly light from outside inwards.
Sakura feels a hand brush her shoulder and looks into the sharingan eyes of her new mission partner. He's taller than her, though they look of similar age.
"Your name?" Shisui asks, tone solemn.
"Haruno Sakura," she gives and manages a little smile, just as the light engulfs them both.
1. Misleading summary bcs this is the only chap with Zombie!Sakura. If someone wants to write that, I wouldn't even be mad. I'm a little mad this didn't turn out that way
2. How did anyone react to being a zombie? Too calmly, I say, especially since none of them should have foreknowledge. Or did that shinobi 'no emotions' rule actually had merit?
3. That's how we respectfully bring the Sasuke chapter to a close. (Does he deserve it? No. Is he a fictional character tho? Yes.)
4. Jokes on Sasuke cause Shisui forehead poked Itachi first, so while Sakura is in the dark how it's basically a declaration of love (cough as much as Sasuke can love cough), Shisui wouldn't be.
5. It's a one-shot (tho when I wrote it last year I did have plans to continue). If I did continue, it would be a low-stakes low-key time travel Shisaku (because Naruto stakes are so unreal). Your imagination could write this story better than I, I'm sure