Whoo. Natume-san, you requested that I write something other then Sasu/Saku. So I did. But it's just so hard! Sigh.
Disclaimer:No, I don't own it. I'm poor, understand?
Dedication: To Higura Natume, for inspiring me. :)
Because really, there was nothing left there. (Nothing but the wrecked memories, anyways. You know it, right Neji?)
Just broken mirror shards, scattered across the floor.
Well, not just mirror shards. Kunai, too. And katanas. (She's famous for those katanas, and they've saved her life, more then once. You know it, and I know it, so don't deny it).
But they're not broken.
They just reflect broken light, like a unbroken mirror.
Neji stares at the shabby walls, and wishes he had done something for this sooner. Because he could have, you know (you know, you know, you know. Right Neji?). He could have saved the happy girl who used to live here (happy, happy. Not anymore,).
But he didn't.
Because when he first found her, there was blood all over the walls, and he doesn't need to be a forensic scientist to know that it was hers. It just was.
And he knows it, and he doesn't know how he knows it (liar, you know it because it smells like her, and you've spent months getting close enough to her, close enough to know her blood by its smell,).
If he had just come sooner. If he hadn't been so stupid. If he had just showed her that he cared a little, even a little.
There were a lot of "if"s in that.
And there's nothing he can do to change it, and he knows it, (but that doesn't really change anything now, does it Neji?).
He slips out of the blood-covered room, and heads towards the place where they're holding her. They won't let her out, and they don't want him to see her.
But like that's ever stopped him from seeing her before.
He climbs in through her window, and just stares down at her face. He sighs into a chair, and slides his hand (warm, alive,) into her palm (unresponsive, almost cold, in a way), and just closes his eyes.
Because it hurts.
Because it really, really hurts, and he doesn't want to think about the fact that her eyes haven't opened in almost a month.
Fourteen days, five hours, thirty-seven minutes, twenty-six seconds, to be exact.
And it doesn't help that he's got the counting down to the second (no it doesn't, Neji, and you know that, so quit it), or the fact that he's refused every mission since then.
(Because your still lying to yourself, aren't you? Liar, liar.)
She mutters softly in her sleep, softly enough that no one else would really notice it, but Neji does, because he's been here every day since it happened.
When he opens his eyes again, he's not in the hospital room anymore; he's caught up in every memory he has of her.
Memories where she's smiling; memories where she's laughing; memories where she's biting her lip to keep herself from screaming.
But she had never once cried (not while you were around, anyways. She spent the nights crying her heart out, because you didn't love her back. Ironic really, how these things work out, isn't it?), and he didn't want her to.
She is far too special to cry.
But she's not too special to get hurt, though. He clenches his fists, because he never meant for this to happen. Never. (Really? Never, never, never ever ever? Because that's called a LIE Neji. You didn't always want her around. Actually, a lot of the time, you still don't want her around.)
These are the things she's lost.
He can see from her sleeping smile that she knows he forgot all about this. Even if it wasn't his fault (no, not your fault, not entirely, anyways,), she's still blaming him. She still wants him to make up for it.
But him can't.
Because her grave is just… there. (Y'know? Just waiting for her to stop breathing, breathing, breathing. Not the way you want it though, is it?) Not in a place where she wants it. She wants to be buried where she died, left in a place just as forgotten and twisted as she is.
But he wouldn't let that happen (no you wouldn't, you horrible, horrible, horrible man. Don't try to deny it,).
He brought her back, back to safety, back to friendship, back to the shame she always tried so hard to avoid at all costs. Back to Gai-sensei and Lee, and Sakura, and Hinata, and every other person she's ever cared about, even a little bit.
And they have to see her like this, pale and broken (because you couldn't save her, you couldn't save her, you couldn't save her. Hurts, doesn't it?), and they have to understand the look in his eyes (cursed, loathed eyes. How many times have we gone over this, huh? And you still deny it, you liar,), haunted and detested in so many ways.
And it's not going to change, and he knows it, like he knows so many other awful truths. (But they don't stop you from breaking the rules, do they? It's not like you've ever cared about rules before, even if you made a show of it.)
And now Hinata peeks into the room, but she doesn't make him leave, because she can see how much this is hurting him (And she doesn't tease you either. That's more then you can say you've ever done for her. Don't deny it, because I'll haunt you harder if you do.), and she understands this is his way of mourning.
Better not to let her know, anyways.
Because sometimes, it just hurts (so bad, so bad. I am sorry, for that, you know.)
He can hear her breathing (soft and slow, like she's asleep, like she's lying at home, in her bed, with the deep green sheets, and the soft brown coverlet, and you're staring at her, eyes gentle and warm).
When she wakes up, this will be better.
But since he's not sure when she's going to be waking up, there's not much he can do (not much, not much to help her, except get her the money they need to wake her up. So that still makes you a liar, you horrible, horrible person). But he can try.
He grips her hand closer to his body, and tenderly presses her finger tips against his lips.
He's going to wake her up, even if it's the last thing her does. (The last thing? Really? What about marrying her? What about all the promises that you'll break? You liar. It would make sense if she didn't trust you, but she does. How does that make sense?)
He doesn't notice her lids fluttering.
He doesn't notice her chest rise a little faster.
But he does notice her heart has suddenly increased its constant beating.
And he does notice the slightly shorter gasp of breath that she takes in.
And when he looks up, she's looking at him eyes wide, scared, and very confused.
"Where am I?"
Thoughts flew through his mind. 'Because I couldn't protect you? Because I broke so many promises that I shouldn't have? Because I wasn't there when you needed me?' Oh, screw the mushiness.
"Hey, Neji, could I ask you something?"
"How long have I been out? And why do my ribs hurt so much?"
"A long time. And you broke four of you ribs, that's why."
"It was when I stopped you from getting stabbed, wasn't it? And then I fell all weird. Could you tell me something else? Are Sakura and everyone okay? I mean, did we save them?"
He nodded, throat tight. She should have let him get stabbed. Then he wouldn't be feeling this miserable right now. (But you are feeling this miserable, but you're not showing it. Hmm, I wonder why. Maybe you don't want to hurt her? Is that it?)
She tilts her head at him, because, really, there's not much else she can move right now (not without hurting herself, anyways. And at the very least, you know how hard this is for her.)
"How long am I going to be lying here?"
Tsunade swept in, sent a half-glare at Neji, before turning to the slight girl.
"It might be awhile. Neji, I thought you were prohibited from coming in here." With those words, a slight smirk tugged at her lips.
Neji just looked at her. (In many ways, this was truly the worst of the staring contests, because if you could stare down the Godaime, there was something wrong with this picture. That, or your staring contest skills owned the world. So Neji, did you stare her down, huh? Huh?!)
She just smiled and turned towards the girl lying on the bed.
"Sakura will be here in half an hour, to start your rehabilitation exercises. It's good that you woke up. Your psyche was deteriorating rapidly, and there would have been a point where we would have had to cut you off."
The girl nodded rapidly, understanding clear in her eyes.
Neji hated himself for a moment (because, really, anything you want is suddenly squished, and it's unfair, but that's the way it is), and he didn't even try to stop the gut-wrenching jerk of guilt in his stomach.
Tsunade left. This, in all reality, meant that he was in her room with her, and she was just looking at him, her eyes big and wide.
And he was still holding her hand.
"Neji, you can let go now."
"Neji, what happened after I blacked out?"
She rolled her eyes at him (you're such a liar Neji, is what her eyes said. You know it, don't you? Can you hear my giggle? I think you can…) and just gave him one of her 'You-are-an-idiot-tell-me-now' kind of looks.
"I think I went crazy."
"You just lying there, on the ground, and there was blood everywhere."
"So I think I went crazy. I just killed everything around. Everything."
"No, I mean 'so?' as in the 'why should you care?' kind of 'so?"
"Because I care."
And then he gets up, and he jumps out the window (because yes, you finally told her and no, you're not strong enough to face her reaction.)
(Right Neji? You liar, you should have stayed. Now she'll be hurt.)
But the little voice in the back of his mind has stopped caring, stopped speaking, and because it was the only thing that ever held him back, that would be the end of it.
He was leaving, and he would never see her again.
Fate did not smile on them now, and it never would, never again.