“You won’t develop the right antibodies if I purge the infection with chakra. You just have to wait,” she repeated dully, with the air of a medic who’d said the same thing several times and was still not allowed to beat her patients to death.
He said nothing.
“We wouldn’t have had to tie you down if you’d stop leaving, Itachi-san,” she tried, signing off on a course of antibiotics because she was pretty sure he would need them. They’d reimburse Suna for all this anyway…
He made a noise, but it was muffled by the sheets. Still, she interpreted it as best she could, and sighed deeply.
“And if you hadn’t tried to render everybody who looked at you comatose, we’d have tied you face up, Itachi-san,” she pointed out.
“Mff,” he said again.
With a sigh, Sakura stood up and approached. She shoved one hand between the pillow and his eyes – ignoring a muffled squawk – and gently twisted his head. “Yes, Itachi-san?”
“You do understand that this position is probably causing more harm than good, Sakura-sensei?” he inquired, all politeness and bland respect.
She wanted to punch him through the window.
“And whose fault is that?” she inquired sweetly instead. “Besides, some stiff muscles won’t kill you. An unchecked infection will. Try to get some sleep.”
“My spine doesn’t bend this way,” he said through his teeth, as though admitting that he was in discomfort would seriously injure him.
Itachi’s spine did actually bend that way, but Sakura could see where the pressure would probably cause pain. But the injury required that they had to elevate his foot and his own recalcitrant stupidity meant that they had to keep his face away from the nurses – and Sakura, actually.
Sakura was pretty good with genjutsu, and she didn’t think he’d expend the energy needed to entrap her on such a trivial thing as getting out of hospital unauthorised, but…
Well, she didn’t actually know how badly Itachi wanted to leave. She wasn’t risking it.
She frowned down at him though.
“Sakura-sensei,” he said blandly, “if you could take your hands off my face…”
She snorted, then used his hair as a handle to twist his head back, face-down again. He made a brief, dissatisfied noise.
“I could order painkillers,” she suggested, propping her hands on her hips. “Or adjust the height of the bed.”
“You could adjust the restraints on the bed,” he suggested.
“I could,” she agreed, and then pointedly did not.
Sakura, contrary to popular belief regarding medics, could totally stand to watch somebody suffer.
Still. It did… look uncomfortable.
“Do you… well… I mean… I could give you a massage?” she suggested finally, and with the distinct impression that she was going to regret this offer. She’d made the same offer once before. Just once. To Naruto. When she was young and naive and not at all aware of any of the subplots of Jiraiya’s stupid novels.
Itachi twitched. The muscles of his back strained so he could lift his mouth from the pillows.
“I don’t…” Blessedly, Itachi seemed at least as uncomfortable about the whole possibility as she did. There was a long moment’s pause. “…would it help?”
“It… might. There’s. Uh. The Tiger Roars At The Moon Lotus Blossom Seven Signals Chakra Massage Technique,” she recited, staring straight at nothing as though she couldn’t even taste the words on her own tongue. They were just words. Still, she coughed discreetly after saying it. “It’s a massage form designed for recovery on long missions where reconnaissance requires remaining still.”
And hadn’t they all been horrified to learn that a massage technique developed – and named – by Gai was actually therapeutically useful?
“… I see,” said Itachi, sounding at best bewildered.
“You know what,” said Sakura, covering her face with her hands, “forget it. Just. Go to sleep. I can order some sedatives if –”
“If you wouldn’t mind, Sakura-sensei. The… massage…” there was a terribly shy hesitance in that, and Sakura felt her eyebrow twitch.
“I…” should not have offered. She knew she shouldn’t have. Oh god. Dammit. Dammit. “Sure,” she croaked out.
She wasn’t blushing.
“Your hands are cold,” he informed her in a low, slow voice.
“You have a fever,” she reminded him. Although… he’d taken an antipyretic for that. She knew. She’d injected it.
They were silent.
Itachi’s report, when they returned to the village, was professional and bland and very, very thorough.
Three days later, Sakura walked into Intel and was swiftly met with Ino’s grinning face.
“Ne, Sakura-sensei,” she purred over the low hum of chatter, which immediately ceased so people could listen in, because – well, Intel ninja, good god. “I’m just – mou,” she made a faintly pornographic sounding moan, “I’m so stiff. Would you help me… rub it out, sensei?”
There was a pause for effect, and then the whole office burst into peals of laughter.
“I’m going to kill him,” hissed Sakura.