It was going to be another busy shift at the hospital and Sakura was rushing to get to her front door.
'I can't believe I overslept!'
Her thick medical books are scattered all over her living room, proof of what kept her up last night.
People think that she no longer has to read more books, considering her reputation as one of the village's most skilled medical nin. They are mistaken, though. There are new developments and practices in the medical field that she has to keep up with. What may be the truth today may no longer be the truth of tomorrow.
'Plus the fact that I am authoring some of those new discoveries', she thought as she packs in her bag the couple of scrolls full of her writing from last night's all-nighter.
Her apartment was destroyed during the fourth shinobi wars. During the village restoration, she managed to get a new place, however, relatively far from the hospital.
It is at times like this that she wishes she was capable of being able to teleport. Her speed has vastly improved compared to her genin days, but not enough to avoid this potential tardiness.
Sakura was about to wear her strapped heels, something that she was influenced to use at work due to spending a lot of time with Tsunade and Shizune. She shook her head at the possible inconvenience of the shoes for today's rush.
Instead, she settled for her usual flat combat slippers. It will be easier to run going to hospital. She was not so concerned with spending unnecessary chakra for her ninja-fast running, remembering her byakugo that graces her forehead, her forehead that she used to be insecure of.
She touched the byakugou using her fingers as she remembered that fact, but it brought her back to something else.
She will never forget such gentle gesture. It was not much for some, but a simple forehead poke was enough to hold on to. Add to that, he has given her enough assurance over the course of his journey. She would find his messenger resting on the windowsill of her office, usually with a note tied on its claws. They were not as frequent, and the letters were often brief, but she appreciates that he sends her separate letters now. In the beginning, he would often just include footnotes in his letters for Kakashi.
It has been two years since Sasuke left, but it was as if everything just happened yesterday.
She sighed when she realized it was not the time to reminisce. She checked the clock, she exactly has three minutes to get to the hospital.
Sakura rushed to her door and was startled as she bumped into a figure during her departure.
With wide eyes, she stared with disbelief at the familiar figure she least expects to be in front of her.
Sakura was lost for words. She was torn between rushing to the hospital and seeing Sasuke later or to drop everything else and focus on the man in front of her.
She was still standing and half a minute has passed when she snapped out of her shock. It took that long to process that this raven-haired man was indeed, in front of her doorstep. Sasuke looked gorgeous as always. His hair was obviously longer, too.
"Sasuke! How long have you been here in Konoha? The last letter was four months ago. I thought you were gonna inform us first before coming back."
Sasuke noted the excitement and shock in her voice. She was very fidgety, obviously flustered by his sudden appearance.
'What she doesn't know is that she's the first person I'm visiting.'
He sported a very soft smile, and was about to answer when she quickly excused herself.
"Actually, you know what, we can catch up when I get back at dinner time. I'm kinda in a rush to go to the hospital. You know, tardiness can cause someone's life- Oww!"
Sasuke carried her like a sack and next thing she knew, they were on top of Garuda.
The hawk flew towards the direction of the hospital and Sasuke decided to answer her questions mid-air.
"I just got back today, a couple of minutes ago."
Sakura settled on the bird, crouching and holding on to it to prevent herself from falling.
"I came to see you because that's what I said I'll do when I get back, remember?" He said with his back facing her.
There was no time for Sakura to react for they were approaching the hospital grounds. Nonetheless, the feeling is surreal. Everything happened in a snap and she wasn't sure if the situation has sunk into her. Is this really Sasuke talking or just a genjutsu cast on her?
Garuda immediately disappeared when both of them landed.
"Thanks for the ride, I guess?"
"Does Tsunade-shishou know that you're back? If not, you can come with me. I'm headed to her office."
Sasuke still doesn't have his arm fully recovered. She figured that he would like to have it checked again.
"I will have to see Kakashi first. I'll go ahead."
Sakura nodded as she watched Sasuke walk out of the hospital compound.
‘So he hasn't seen Kakashi-sensei yet.’
The influx of visitors walking in reminded her that she only a minute left to get to Tsunade's office.
She sprinted to her door and knocked like she always used to when Tsunade was hokage. Nothing much has changed, just the white walls and the hospital aura that Tsunade's hospital office evoked. It's very different from the hokage's office but her room screams authority nonetheless.
"How's the progress of the book you are writing?"
Tsunade took a few glances around the office before asking Sakura to sit down. What they're going to talk about next is what they would like to call top secret.
"Let's start with the ones concerned with the hospital."
Sakura nodded and brought out two of the three scrolls that she has with her. They proceeded to talk about the developments of the new antidotes that they are trying to come up with.
"The creation of this particular antidote is very labor-intensive. Usually it is only administered during extreme cases because of its scarcity. It's one of the most effective antidotes to counter really strong poisons like those of Sasori's." She recalled their encounter and how she was able to create three full doses of antidote. It was Tsunade who taught her how to create those during her younger years.
"The main ingredient is not abundant anywhere. While all villages have their own natural share, no one can take monopoly over those. I experimented with few, more common ingredients that exhibit the same properties and give off the same effects as our original main ingredient. The formulation, in the end, was almost the same."
"They're very similar, but the original formula is more concentrated. I haven't proven it, but the difference might be in the duration of the effect. The original formula may give you three full minutes, while the new formula may cut it down in half. I'm not sure if that will be the case. I just assumed because the new formula made use of forty ingredients compared to the original's eight. I have recorded my experiments in this scroll, both failed and successful attempts. The other scroll contains all the information about the nature of the new formula including its ingredients."
Tsunade grabbed something from her drawer. It's a kunai glazed with a strong poison, same as what Sakura originally intended to use against Sasuke.
Sakura flinched at the sight. "Hmm? Tsunada-shishou?"
"Do you have a sample with you?"
"Yes, why?" She asked as she grabbed a vial from her pocket. Her jaw dropped when Tsunade grazed her left hand with the poisoned kunai.
"I'll take it." Her master opened up her right palm, motioning to give her the antidote.
"But this hasn't been tested yet!"
"What do you think are we doing right now?" Tsunade said before her body started trembling because of the poison's effect.
"I have the original one, I'll use that in-"
"Sakura!" Tsunade shouted with urgency. "I trust you, so give me that."
Sakura handed her the new formula and watched as Tsunade injected it in herself. She was anxious. Will it work? Will she mess up? Whichever happens, she is preparing herself for a Plan B if the antidote doesn't respond well with the body.
Worry was written all over her face when Tsunade showed no sign of taking the antidote's supposed effects.
"I think I need to use the original one now. Please!"
"Have you forgotten who I am? I can pretty much heal myself if I wanted to. We are just testing the effects of this antidote. If I were you, I will take down notes instead of just watching."
"That's right. Have a little more confidence in your work."
A few seconds later, Tsunade was regaining her usual strength and checked back on Sakura who was busy observing. She raised an eyebrow, asking for the notes she came up with.
"Unlike the original, the effect won't take place right away. It took you about a minute before feeling well. Right now, we have to time how long will the antidote last."
Tsunade nodded. "Let's proceed to the 'other' matter."
"But we aren't done with the antidote-testing yet."
"It's okay. I'll react right away when the effect wears off."
Sakura nodded and brought out the 'other' scroll.
She was developing a jutsu that she consulted with her master. While she may not be the original developer of this technique, the only known ninja who was capable of doing it was Elder Chiyo.
Yes, she was referring to the revival technique that Chiyo originally developed for Sasori. In the end, she used it to bring Gaara back to life which caused her her life.
"Everything written here is still in theory. And I want you to look into it to see if there are loopholes."
Tsunade nodded. "I was surprised when you told me you want to develop this technique. Why?"
"There's no other way but to rediscover it. Elder Chiyo is no longer alive to give details of her jutsu."
"I don't mean that. I mean, what for?"
Sakura searched for the answer, and even though how absurd it sounds, she thought that it wouldn't hurt to be honest with her mentor.
"I just feel that it will come in handy someday. I wanted to leave a legacy, and maybe it's through this jutsu. I don't know, a sudden unexplainable feeling just hit me. I feel the need to accomplish this, because something is telling me that I was born to save one person in this lifetime, in exchange of my life. "
'Hmm.' Tsunade thought to herself. "I know you don't intend to deliberately copy it. What are the differences?"
"I'm trying to develop it with the premise that the jutsu user possesses the strength of a hundred seal. Our chakra is vast compared to others. I am wondering if the chakra stored for three years is enough to revive a person."
"In other words, you are trying to see if the byakugou can preserve your life while restoring another one's? And that you won't necessarily give up your life, just the seal."
"Yes. That would be the 'step-up' from the original jutsu. Whether my theory works with the jutsu or not doesn't really matter. It's just a bonus and I will really just find it out once the time has come for me to use it."
Tsunade studied her student's face as she talks and can't help but be proud of her. She was making a lot of notable accomplishments at the very young age of nineteen.
But she’s worried. Who is that one person she's referring to. Sasuke? No, even she thinks that Sakura does not intend to use it for him. Who could it be?
"Okay, let me have it. I'll just summon you when I'm done studying it. Remember, this is only between the two of us. Also, reconsider the involvement of the byakugo. Chakra may become irrelevant. After all, this technique requires the user's soul."
"Techniques like this shouldn't even be permitted and discussed like this. You are lucky I am no longer Hokage so I'm letting you get away with it. Just remember the things I've told you. Be careful. But I guess rule breakers like us, hmm, are rule breakers." Tsunade said, referring to both of them who each had their strength of a hundred seal - the two medical nin who broke the three rules.
"Understood." Sakura said with formality before shifting to a more carefree voice. "I guess that's all for tod- Tsunade-shishou! It's been five minutes since we've been talking. What happened to the antidote?"
"The moment I regained my strength, I didn't feel the poison in my system anymore. I was not exerting any chakra or effort. It seems that you didn't create an antidote per se."
Sakura was confused with what her mentor said. Does she mean that effects are permanent?
"You might have created a super drug Sakura. This is like having a medical ninja personally heal you - in a vial. I'm impressed."
"No way!" She said in disbelief.
"Well, I shall test it to other medics like Shizune and see if the effects will be the same. My body may have been accustomed to healing itself so I shall see its effects to others. Also, I will look for cons of this formula because it just seems too good to be true - the ingredients are common, the extraction is less complicated and easy to make in large volumes because of abundant supply. While it takes a minute to take effect, the results are permanent. Instead of giving your body a few minutes to repel the effects of the poison, it eliminates it without actual medical ninjutsu."
To be honest, Sakura wasn't expecting that the new formula will be this good. It seems that her efforts didn't go to waste. She just hopes that the effect will be the same for everyone. If this discovery will be funded, the game will change for Konoha. It will be easier to counter enemies who rely on poison as their main line of offense.
"We're done for today, Sakura."
"Arigato, Tsunade-shishou. I'll be heading to the Intensive Care Unit then."
"We already have enough people for today. We are done, as in, you can go home and rest. The moment you came in I can tell that you are a mess. Where's the make-up and the heels? Your hair is tied sloppily. You didn't have time to blow-dry? It just means you overslept and pulled an all-nighter."
Then it dawned on Sakura. She's not in her best right now and she indeed is a mess right now. And of all times, Sasuke decided to show up today.
She shook her head and Tsunade watched her quizzically. 'Why is she making crazy faces?'
Sakura thought that her look doesn't really matter. Sasuke isn't the guy that will notice whether you wore lipstick or changed your shirt. Still, it could have been a better first meeting if she looked far from disheveled.
"Are you sure you don't need a hand for today, Tsunade-sama?"
"Shizune found a new subordinate. She has a young blood to train so you can skip the shift for today and this week."
"Tsunade-sama, I feel that there's a catch. What is it?" Sakura inquired curiously. A week's worth of day-off from the hospital? It sounded like a joke.
"Why do you always deny yourself of these incentives? It's acknowledgement of your hard work. Your input today is impressive. It will take me some time to assess all of these. Plus, you really need to rest."
"Umm, I'm still not convinced, but thank you Shishou." Sakura bowed her head. "But if you need help, I will always have myself ready and don't hesitate to summon me."
"Thank you, but trust me when I say that you will need sleep. Sasuke just got here. I don't want to be a party-pooper and deprive you of your youth by locking you in here."
"Shishou!" This is the side of Tsunade others normally don't see. When it's not business, she's like a typical older sister who picks on her imouto.
"Just kidding." Tsunade said with a tender expression. "Word came that Sasuke is back. He has been in the village for about an hour now. Kakashi sent a bird to tell me as he was informed by the gate guards. It's weird, though, because he didn't go to the tower right away. Where has he been?“
Tsunade, as usual, raised an eyebrow at Sakura. Sakura couldn't put up with the gesture and spilled the beans.
Sakura sighs then smiles. “I was running late and Uchiha Sasuke was standing in my front door. You hate me being late, I had to excuse myself but then found myself with him flying on his eagle, Garuda. He brought me here and I invited him so he could have his armed checked, but he said he has to see Kakashi first-"
"Second." Tsunade corrected. "He decided to see you first."
Sakura blushed. "I guess..."
"I'm just messing with you, Sakura." She said with a laugh. "While you have grown a lot, far from the girl you were when you just became my student, I guess you need to loosen up a bit. You have been overworking yourself for the past two years. You became a jonin, a high-rank medical nin and, just now, an inventor of a would-be super drug. All of these at nineteen. Go enjoy your break. Regain some strength so we can develop these two matters", she held up the scrolls, "when you get back."