Last chapter. Omigod, hyperventilating. Written entirely to Breaking Benjamin's Rain. It just seemed appropriate.
Disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me.
Dedication: To everyone who ever reviewed. You guys just make me so happy. I love you.
I opened my eyes a long time later. I knew it was a long time because of the way my body felt - stiff, tired, and really protesting the fact that I was moving. I panicked when my muscles protested, actually. I wasn't used to hurting this much.
My lids flickered, unhappy with the fact that there was light filtering through the windows, and I sighed as I mentally checked where I was.
I was in a bed, in a circular, golden-from-the-sunlight-room, with thick, filmy white curtains over the windows. The ceiling was low and domed, but not constricting, and I suddenly felt slightly calmer. It didn't last long, though, once I did figure out where I was.
How the hell did I get into the infirmary?
Seriously, my last memory was a flash of light. I winced as I tried to move. My body, my muscles, normally so sure of themselves, screamed in protest.
But I'm a stupid bitch, and I forced myself to sit up. My world spun around-and-around-like-strobe-lights-at-a-night-club, and I started coughing. I could feel the blood in my mouth, and I spat it out. I let my body fall back into the mattress.
The disgust was thick on my tongue. God, I felt weak. I hate feeling weak.
I forced myself up a second time, and this time, the world stayed the way it was supposed to.
"Hello?" I called out softly, my voice hoarse from disuse, and echoing in the domed room. My voice came hurtling back at me from a hundred directions hello?-hello-hello-hello?-hello…, and I wondered if this room had been made for the simple purpose of driving someone insane.
Then the door snapped open, and Hinata and Tenten came zooming in, relief thick on both of their features.
"Thank fucking god you're alright!" Tenten said, as she threw herself down on the bed next to me, just as Hinata, always the lady, sat herself down, folded her hands, and smiled like there was no tomorrow.
"How long have I been out?"
Hinata shook her head. "Long enough that Anko's been freaking out. Long enough that Tsunade's been freaking out."
I stared at her, eyes wide. The one time Tsunade had started worrying had been when crazy Gai hadn't woken up for two weeks.
"How long, Hinata?" My voice went shrill as I said 'long'.
She winced. "Thirteen days."
I felt my mouth twist up in a broken smirk. There was something bothering me, too, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was… "Damn, that long, huh? So what's happened while I've been out?"
"Well, Neji and Naruto and Shikamaru have been out along the outskirts, keeping more then a few rebellions down," said Tenten.
"And Tsunade told me that Kurenai's baby is safe. Whatever it was that Kabuto did to her didn't have lasting effects. Well, we hope, anyways. The baby might either be totally useless as a hunter, or she might be better then you and Sasu-" Hinata's eyes widened as she started to say his name.
That's what it was. "Hinata, what happened to Sasuke?!"
"Shit, no, Sakura, you really, really don't want to know."
"I think I do!" My voice was a shrill whisper that tore through the filmy curtains like an icy breeze, and I felt my do a weird convulsion that could be considered a morbid flutter. And all I could think was 'Oh, god, Sasuke, please don't be dead…'
Tenten sighed in exasperation. "Damn it Hinata, tell her. She has a right to know. And if you won't, I will. And I'll make it blunt, and way more straightforward. And therefore more painful."
Hinata groaned, miserable. "Well, he's not… he's not as bad as he could be."
Tenten narrowed her eyes, and I gulped. Not good. "Don't fucking sugarcoat it, Hinata. She deserves to know the truth."
Hinata closed her eyes, and turned her face away. "He's stable, but he's in a coma. And no, he's not dead, but Tsunade's worried that he might not be going to wake up. Ever."
Tenten sat back, grimly mollified, and I let the words hit me like a ton of bricks. He might not wake up. He might… might-not-wake-up-might-not-wake-up-might-not-wake-up-oh-god-pleas-please-please-don't-do-this-to-me…
I could feel the tears coming, but I forced them back. I was not going to accept this. I was not. There was no way I would accept this.
I sat up, my muscles screaming, and I managed to yank the covers out from under Hinata and Tenten. Hinata just stood up, having been ready for something like this to happen, and rolled her eyes at me, guessing where this was going. Tenten, obviously not so ready, slid off the bed, and on to the floor.
She yelped, annoyed, as I swung my legs over the bed. I realized I was wearing a hospital gown, and I scowled.
I hate hospitals.
"Hinata, could you get me my clothes? Please?"
She didn't say anything, just turned and looked at Tenten. I blinked at the both of them, and Tenten growled, and tossed a pair of jeans at me, and the stripy blue-green-and-every-other-cold-shade-under-the-sun tee-shirt, the one that she'd borrowed so long ago, at me.
I tried to smile tightly in thanks. My facial muscles didn't seem to be working properly; they wouldn't smile when I wanted them to.
I stripped, taking the hideous hospital gown off then and there, and got into the clothes. I felt a surge of warmth go through me, because they were my clothes, and not someone else's.
"Shoes?" I asked. God, I felt like a baby, totally useless.
Hinata pointed to the door, and I nearly cried in happiness. My black-and-red high tops were sitting there, the laces loose and long.
Unsteadily, I walked over to them, the muscles in my legs pouting at me. Now that I was up, I was quickly regaining control of all my muscles, except for the ones in my face. Those ones seemed to want to defy my wish to try to smile, to reassure my friends.
They didn't want to smile. And to be quite frank, neither did I.
I slipped the black-and-red high tops on my feet, lacing them up all the way. They kept my ankles steady, gave me a grounded sense. It didn't make sense, but right then, considering how fucked up I felt; I was going to take what I could get.
Hinata and Tenten threw their arms around me for a second time, but this time, they didn't let me go. They kept their arms locked around me, and together, the three of us walked out of the room.
The led me down hallway after hallway, but I had stopped paying attention. I didn't care how I got to Sasuke; I just cared that I got there.
And we did get there, eventually.
Hinata pushed the door open, because apparently, I was shaking too badly to do it for myself. I, trembling hand and all, tucked a stray piece of pink hair behind my ear, and mentally prepared myself for the worst.
I was surprised when it wasn't actually that bad. Sasuke's room was almost exactly like mine; it just had one extra feature.
He was hooked up to an IV. I felt my heart constrict.
"Do you want us to leave?" Hinata asked; her voice soft.
"Whatever." I whispered, too stricken to care. I was past caring.
But the both of them left, backed out of the room, closed the door softly as they went out, and left me to walk the tiny bit of space to Sasuke on my own.
I sat down in the chair there, but it seemed like he was so far away from that position. I gently ran my fingers through his bangs, and I was invariably reminded of that time, back at the leech hotel. My heart ached, just thinking about it. Because this time, he might not wake up.
So I thought 'Screw it,' and curled up next to him. He was breathing, soft and slow and calm, and I could hear his heartbeat. It was strong and even.
How could something that seemed so strong be so damn weak?!
"Wake up, you stupid asshole. You said you'd never let me go. If you die, it kinda kills it, you know? So please, please, please, wake up. For me?" My voice was just a whisper, and I didn't know if he registered it, but he did sort of mumble, so I decided to take it as affirmation that he knew I was there.
I closed my eyes, hid my face in his chest, and tried to stem the flow of hiccupping sobs that were tearing their way out of my chest.
A knock on the door roused me out of my calm whatever-you-want-to-call-it. I blinked, but I didn't move. I had no intention of moving, not until Sasuke woke up and told me out loud that he loved me.
And he would.
How I knew this, don't ask me; I just knew that he'd wake up. There was no way someone with a heartbeat as strong as Sasuke's, no way someone with as much to live as Sasuke, could not wake up. It was impossible.
And besides. He promised he wouldn't let me go. I was planning on holding him to that.
The door opened, and in came Tsunade.
She still looked the same as ever, pigtailed blonde hair, tired eyes, big boobs and all. She came and sat down next to me, the picture of a mother who'd just had a much loved child get in a very unwelcome accident.
"Tsunade, is he going to die?" I asked, childish and soft. And I did feel like a child, one who knew nothing of the world, and then whose favorite uncle suddenly had died.
I breathed in a sigh of relief. "Is he going to wake up?"
"…" She was silent, and I didn't take it as a good thing. But at the same time, her silence wasn't a grim silence. It was more like a contemplative silence, like she knew something, but wasn't sure how I was going to take it.
"Sakura, what if I told you there was a way to wake him up?"
"I'd tell you to do it."
"No questions asked?"
She sighed heavily, looking as if the weight of the world was on her shoulders. "Well, there is, in fact, a way that might work."
"So do it." I'm pretty sure my desperation to have him back bled through into my words.
"Sakura, Shizune and I have been working very closely with certain doctors recently, to try to find a way to wake Itachi up. We've finished it, but we're unsure of what the results may be."
I listened carefully. There was a test hidden her words, and I'd be damned if I failed. "Itachi, Sasuke's older brother? Alright, go on."
"The thing is, we've had no one to test it on. Itachi's been in a coma for many, many years, and we think it may fail because of that simple fact."
I nodded slowly. "So, you want to… test it… on Sasuke?"
"What's the catch, Tsunade?"
"What happened to 'no questions asked'?"
"It went down the drain. What's the catch?" I asked again, placing as much emphasis on the last sentence as I could.
"It may very well end up killing him."
That shut me right up. I wanted to swear loudly, and kick something (Sasuke, preferably, because, seriously, who knows, maybe the pain will wake him up), but I couldn't, not while Tsunade was there.
"So, what do we do?"
"It's up to you."
I blinked at her, slightly dazed. She was leaving something this important up to me? "What?! Am I hearing you right?!"
"Yes, Sakura, you are. And yes, I am leaving the decision entirely up to you. There is a chance he may wake up on his own, as you did. But it's a very, very small chance. And while the procedure to wake him up does present some risk, at the very least, it will give him a chance."
I let the knowledge sink into my brain, and I rubbed my forehead. Fuck, what was I supposed to do in a situation like this? Sasuke's life was entirely dependent on my choice.
But Tsunade had said that there was a chance that he might wake up on his own. Of course, she did say that it was a very small chance. And honestly, I wasn't willing to bet my happiness, or Sasuke's life on a spendthrift's chance.
I took a deep breath. "Let's do it."
"Are you sure?" she asked me, her eyes flashing in something like satisfaction.
"Yes." I said without hesitation. This was a choice that needed to be made, and if it ended badly, then I would be able to accept the fact that it was my fault.
Or at least, I hoped I would.
Tsunade sat back, and surveyed me with pride in her eyes. "You've grown up, Sakura."
"I had to."
"I know you did. Now, let's get this procedure going, shall we?"
It took us a full two days to get everything ready. There were doctors flying everywhere, back and forth and back and forth, and really, it made me feel dizzy. More then dizzy, it made me feel sick, especially when there were doctors whispering in corners about how this was totally experimental, and how it could all go wrong.
After Tsunade screeched at them, they shut up.
But the whispers still lingered in my mind like poison, made me want to retch and puke up everything I'd eaten in the previous two days.
But of course, I never let myself get that low.
And more then that, there wasn't much I could do. I was going to sit through the procedure, to see if I could learn anything, but really, there wasn't much for me to do.
So Hinata and Tenten took me out, mostly to the arcade and to the shooting range, to get my mind off of things. Of course, Neji and Naruto didn't really like that, but with the glares they got from the other two girls, they didn't push very hard to get their way.
Obviously, Hinata had scared them into submission. Seriously, that girl is too damn scary for her own good.
But eventually, Hinata went off with Naruto, and Tenten and Neji disappeared together, and I was left to simply curl up in Sasuke's room, next to him, my nose buried in his shirt.
And then, when they took him out of his room (I protested this strongly, but a single glare from Tsunade shut me up), and into the room where they'd be doing this procedure, I just curled up in his bed, and buried my nose in his pillow.
God, I felt so pathetic.
I was half-asleep when someone knocked on the door, and Tsunade stuck her head in. I took it that it was time to start the procedure, and that I ought to get up if I wanted to talk to him first.
So I forced myself to get up, and to leave the comfy warm spot that I'd been in for the past half hour. I followed Tsunade out into the hall, and we stood there for a moment, looking at each other.
Then she smiled, and wrapped an arm around my shoulders, and I sighed. At least I always knew she'd be there for me. Just like Anko. Just like Kakashi. Just like Hinata and Naruto, and Neji and Tenten, and, hopefully, just like Sasuke.
"Please god, let him wake up," I whispered to no one in particular, and Tsunade tightened her arm for just a second.
"Come on, Sakura, let's go."
And so we went. Tsunade showed me into the room where they'd be waking him up, and pointed me towards a chair sitting right next to the head of the bed, right next to Sasuke's sleeping face.
I took it, and watched the pre-procedure preparations. Most of those were last minute, with Tsunade screeching angrily at some poor med student who had no idea what he was supposed to be doing.
Sigh. Poor kid. I looked around the room, taking mental notes on what this thing actually was.
It really was like every other infirmary room; same circular shape, same big windows covered by filmy curtains. But these ones, in here, they weren't the white filmy curtains that let in sunlight. These ones were black-out curtains, meant to keep sunlight and life out.
I didn't like it at all.
And then there were the machines. They were everywhere, tall metal boxes covered in dials, and fat-and-short metal boxes that were beeping and wires more then everywhere. It was rather creepy.
And it really reminded me of that day back on the outskirts when Sasuke and I had gone to meet Emma for the first time. As I remembered that poor, sick little boy, I realized that I needed to learn this, so I would be able to save people like him.
Because eventually, even the best hunters age, and they need to give up doing what they love in favour of doing some more practical.
And you never know. This might be exactly what I want to do, despite my deep hatred of creepy, empty hospitals.
Tsunade looked odd, wearing hospital scrubs. It was kind of funny. But she looked up at me, and tilted her head, silent asking for permission. I nodded slowly.
And so it began.
I don't remember half of what happened, because I was too busy watching Sasuke's face. I just know that Tsunade hooked him up to some machine, and started pumping fast, quick jolts of electricity into his body, along with some weird green stuff.
Apparently, the green stuff was the reversed form of the green guck Hinata had sent them. It wasn't a muscle freezer, it was a muscle releaser.
They worked long into the night, so long that I almost wanted to sleep. There was so much to take in, so much to see. But I didn't want to see it. I just wanted to know that Sasuke was going to wake up, because, really, let's face it, that's all I really cared about.
Much later, I checked the clock on the wall, the little hands transforming into numbers into my mind. It was about six-thirty in the morning, and I knew the sun would be coming up soon.
And then there was a strange twitching, and I could see Sasuke's eyes flicking back and forth beneath his eyelids.
My breath caught in my throat, and I didn't dare to hope.
But of course I did.
And then, slowly, so slowly it almost pained me, his eyelids flickered open, and I could see his eyes. We just stared at each other, while everyone else in the room started freaking out and celebrating.
But they were suddenly background noise, because Sasuke opened his mouth, and said; his voice rusty "I told you, princess, I told you. I'm not letting you go." His hand found mine, and I leaned down, and very gently pressed my lips to his.
And then someone threw open the black-out curtains, and Sasuke and I both looked up, dazzled, and out at the early-morning sunrise. The sun was turning the sky pink and gold and bright blue as it rose. It was beautiful.
And so we sat there together, and watched the dawning of a new day, our fingers tightly woven together.
((OMIGOD IT'S DONE! *falls out of bed*))