(Day Thirteen of SasuSaku Month.)

He's numb from the waist down; Madara got him from behind. It was a cowardly move, but it does the trick. He's out of commission now, and Sasuke hates that the others do the work for him. He was never one for sitting still, he still has a revenge to fulfil, but he cannot do anything.

Instead he lies on the uneven ground, the battle far but close enough that he could hear the shouts of his comrades. He is surprised, though, when his vision is suddenly invaded by pink strands of hair.

"Sasuke-kun, hold on!"

Seeing her in the middle of the carnage was... different. She didn't belong here, in the dark, with him. Sakura deserved the light, the warmth.

He could never give her that.

He watches as she tries to mend his broken spinal column, but even her prowess in the healing arts cannot fix what is already broken. So Sakura switches to what she can restore; she mends his broken bones and shuts his gaping wounds.

It's too late, though. He's lying on a pool of blood, and Sasuke knew that when the amount of blood reached a certain point then there was nothing anyone could do.

He shakes his head at her. "It's too late."

"Don't say that." Sakura snaps. "Don't ever say that!"

"Stop it, Sakura."

She is crying now, trying to swallow down her sobs. It doesn't work. "Don't leave me stranded like this. Don't—don't push me away. If…if you die in the end, if you have to leave, at least I'd know I've done all I can."

Sakura's voice is earnest, and Sasuke wonders how she can still care about her so much even after all he's done. So rarely in his life had he felt wanted, so he nods, and Sakura's blinding smile is the last thing he sees before everything goes dark.

The first thing that comes back is how his body hurts so much, and he feels the multitudes of bandages that are wrapped around him. He tries not to groan, and good thing because he hears the voices beside him.

"-sometimes I don't know why you guys bother to keep me around."


"No, really. You and Sasuke-kun and Kakashi-sensei improve by leaps and bounds, and I'm trying to keep up, just like always. I was never been worth without you guys by my side."

Her voice cracks in the end, but Sasuke stays silent. He has to hear what she has to say.

"You have improved, Sakura." The voice of his old teacher is affectionate yet reprimanding. "I don't know why you miss these things; you always have been the smartest of my students."


"Not really." Sakura's voice is a touch condensing. He feels as if he missed a part of the conversation, because silence follows.

"I don't know why I still care for him."

He feels the heavy weight of their stares, but he remains still.

"You still care for him because you're you, Sakura-chan. We never gave up on him, because we know there is still good inside him."

"I'm not worthy of him, Naruto. I was never even worthy of being a part of Team Seven. It was always Hatake's team, the Uchiha's team, the Uzumaki's team. I wasn't strong until you three came along."

Sakura says it with no fanfare, no crying or sobbing. She says it matter-of-factly, voice uncharacteristically monotonous, and it strikes Sasuke harder that it should.

Have she always belittled herself like this, all these times?

"Perhaps all the peril brought it to the surface. But those traits were always there inside you. Abounding loyalty. Incomprehensible devotion. Innate goodness. Unending patience. That's what made you the only girl who could deserve him." Kakashi speaks up, and his tone has lost its playfulness.

The room lights up when Naruto speaks. "The Teme isn't that stupid to think you don't deserve him, Sakura-chan! If he does, then I'd give him a trashing he'll never forget. Believe it!"

Sakura finally laughs. He's forgotten how it sounded, being away for the last four years, and he finds it fitting that the sound of it is what he opens his eyes to.

Not really satisfied with this one, but meh. Our prelim exams are near, so I don't think I can complete the whole thirty-one days. Just a heads up so no one would go looking for it. Review?

[Day Thirteen: Fish Out of Water]