A short story for my friend Ariel. At some point in time, she asked me to write out a plunny for her. I agreed. One full year later, I finally buckled down on a whim and wrote a proper-sized story. In one day. Possibly my first ever one shot that has stayed such.
There have been requests for sequels, but nothing planned as of yet.
Part 1 – Annoyances
If that blithering idiot rings that buzzer one more time, I’m going to sedate him until he’s released.
Haruno Sakura felt the muscles under her left eye twitch as the obnoxious tone of her pager sounded again. Seated in her office, finally making headway into a backlog of two days of paperwork, the pink-haired doctor groaned.
Her latest patient was being a royal pain. He sniffed at the food—which she really couldn’t blame him for—and complained quietly about everything and anything, via buzzer. When the nurses came to check on him, he demanded to know when he would be clear to leave. Never mind, that there was a cast on his right leg from ankle to mid-thigh. When given the same answer repeatedly, he would ring the bell and argue with whoever arrived. After a few hours of repeat performances, the interns had begun implementing a selection system involving straws, pennies, and Styrofoam cups of Kool-aid. Apparently, it had something to do with bravery, luck, and bad reflexes. Sakura hadn’t bothered to ask.
Princess had arrived three hours past midnight yesterday, making this his second night here. Carried in, barely conscious, by two other men, he was a mess of scraped skin, blooming bruises, and a tibia that threatened to break through. Unfortunately for the so-called Raven, just because he was a skateboarding adrenaline junky didn’t make him impervious to mortality.
Dr Senju Tsunade had yanked Sakura into surgery to assist, and the—then new and exciting—patient was cleaned, put back together, and dropped into a waiting bed. The procedure was simple, easy even, and was done without a hitch.
The pager sounded again and the electronic melody seemed to bounce around her head, hitting certain spots between her temples.
Sakura growled in her patient’s general direction and imagined that the little aloe vera plant, a thank you gift from Lee, wilted just a tad.
Grumbling about pampered, egotistical, semi-famous imbeciles, Sakura reached out and grabbed her coffee mug. Only to discover that the brew was now stone cold and stale.
For a moment she considered leaving her paperwork for a fresh cup, but likely the second she emerged from the room, she would be tackled by half the staff and probably all of the interns.
Tsunade had laughed at the suffering faces when she walked into the hospital earlier that evening and had pointed at her protégé. Sakura had never hated responsibility so much until that moment.
How the fuck did one stuck up annoyance turn her floor into his personal whipping grounds?
Snarling, she pushed back her chair and stood. One Uchiha was not going to stop her from caffeine.
Her hand was two inches from the door knob when a knock came from the other side.
Oh, this can’t be good. Sakura scowled before opening the door. “Shizune-san?”
The older woman on the other side of the door winced at the younger’s expression. “Sorry, but—”
“Tell her to get her ass over to Princess’ room before I shove him through a window!” bellowed from down the hall.
“—Ah,” Shizune paled and gave Sakura a wry smile before turning to shout back, “Tsunade-san really shouldn’t be calling him that when there are others around!”
“It’s my hospital! I’ll call my patients what they deserve!”
Sighing, Sakura rubbed her right temple as Shizune grimaced and shook her head. “I know we are healers, Shizune-san, but with that idiot, I just want him gone.” Oh damn, she was whining now.
“I know, I know,” the other woman soothed. “Just, please, deal with him before Tsunade breaks him further.”
Sakura took a deep fortifying breath and squared her shoulders. Handing her mug to her superior, she stretched her lips into a strained smile. “Could you dump that out for me please? If I take it with me, Princess may end up wearing it.”
She looked at him, propped up in the bed, covered with pristine white sheets, and allowed herself a slight frown. Hopefully it would be taken as concern rather than annoyance.
“What seems to be the problem?” the young doctor asked, crossing the room to pick up the clipboard at the end of his bed. Room 301: Uchiha Itachi was filled in at the top. In purple ink. Odd.
“I want to leave.” His voice never rose, never wavered from his trademarked level tone. Implacable and unruffled as an Uchiha could be, with his lower leg in a plaster and stitches up his left shoulder.
Sakura stifled the urge to snort and glanced down at the charts. Always the same demand. The man didn’t seem to have an imagination. “Nothing has changed, Uchiha-san.”
“And likely won’t,” he agreed. “I doubt there will be any future complications. However, my recuperation would be faster in the proper comfort of my own home.”
The medic shook her head. “We can’t risk that,” she told him, again. “If there’s infection from exposure, we need to have you here for immediate treatment. Surgery was less than a day ago, Uchiha-san.” She placed the charts back on the bed and waited.
“My family has a doctor that is on call at all hours,” he reminded her.
And a poor sap he must be, Sakura thought, thinking of old Shiroku. Granted, he was also an Uchiha, but still, talk about slavery to family obligations.
“He doesn’t have a hospital nor is it practical to move you from this one yet.”
There was a moment of stillness as the two matched stares; Uchiha unreadable as ever, Sakura calm and polite, professional. Their interactions for her entire shift had been a repeat of the first. This time, however, her patient didn’t seem to be as willing to go through with the rest of the script.
She blinked at him waiting for his response. “Uchiha-san?”
Inside, Sakura cringed. Why am I encouraging him to continue this idiocy? She should be celebrating an early exit, not waiting for him to continue.
Instead, to her complete bewilderment, Uchiha broke from routine, shifting uneasily on the bed. Minutely, but definitely. His eyes left hers for a moment, darting to the door.
She turned to follow his regard and blinked again, seeing a shadow flit away from other side of the door. Several of them. “What?”
Striding quickly to the door, she opened it, only to hear the patter of footsteps disappear down the nearest hallway. “You have got to be kidding me,” she muttered in disbelief.
“They are… hnn, disturbing my rest.” Was it her imagination or was there some strain in his smooth baritone?
Still standing on the threshold, halfway into the hall, Sakura leaned back into the patient’s room and lifted a brow.
“Is this why you want to leave?”
Mirroring her expression, the injured man quirked a brow before answering. “Now can I go home?” He was almost plaintive.
Suddenly a few peculiarities of his visit became clear. The man had spent the better part of his incarceration hobbling around his room, only venturing out into the halls sparingly. Of those outside forays, none were longer than a few minutes.
It wasn’t hard to imagine various fangirls tailing him throughout the hospital. Pity almost became an issue; however, amusement reigned supreme.
She shook her head. “My reasons haven’t changed; your fanclub does not alter your situation. Although,” she paused, listening to the faint whisper of giggles floating up the silent halls, “I will do my best to discourage ‘visits’ from the staff.”
Uchiha leaned back into the pillows, nodding. “That would be acceptable.” He closed his eyes and exhaled, almost a sigh.
She was about to leave the room completely when he spoke again.
“It will also mean I will no longer be using the buzzer as a deterrent,” he mused quietly and she jerked to a stop.
“Is that so?” she asked very slowly.
Uchiha’s lids cracked open to reveal onyx eyes. One corner of his mouth turned up slightly. “Aa.”
That muscle under her left eye twitched again. “Your fan club,” the doctor started, backing into the room and closing the door, “is the only reason why you have been trigger happy for the past sixteen hours?” The entire time that he had been awake after surgery. And refused to sleep, according to the records.
Her patient nodded.
“You don’t happen to know their names do you, Uchiha-san?” she asked sweetly, pulling out a notepad from her overcoat and withdrawing a pen.
He blinked slowly. The half smile spread to the other side.
When he finally stopped after the twelfth name, Sakura smiled and snapped the paper pad closed. “I am sorry for the inconvenience, Uchiha-san.” A half bow didn’t hurt if she was about to win free of her headache. “I will personally make sure that they will not bother you again.”
Princess inclined his head like proper royalty. “Thank you, Haruno-san.”
Taking the dismissal as it was meant to be, she turned to the door, pausing on the threshold. “And Uchiha-san,” she watched as he tilted his head in question, “next time, please say something sooner.”
She grinned and stepped through the door, closing it firmly behind her. “Hunting time!” she crowed softly. “But first: coffee!”
Three minutes later, a dozen names of staff who were currently on shift were announced over the paging system. They were all needed in Dr Senju’s office immediately.
Sakura cackled as she eased back in the corner chair and cradled her fresh mug of caffeine, as Tsunade drummed her fingers on the blotter of the large executive desk. Even Shizune looked anticipatory as she twisted close all the blinds.
Anxious footsteps drew near. The senior doctor leaned forward in her chair as the other two women faded into the background.
The ensuing slaughter was glorious.
When her pager rang five minutes from the end of her shift, Sakura actually felt a pang of concern. Uchiha had been silent for most of the shift, dutifully yielding to sleep after their last encounter. Which was five hours ago. Not much sleep for a man recovering from surgery.
Shuffling papers into appropriate bins and grabbing her white overcoat from the coat rack, she quickly navigated to his room.
“Uchiha-san?” she queried softly, stepping into the room. The lights were off and the blinds drawn. Weak sunlight filtered through the slats, turning the room into a murky half-gloom.
Her patient turned over on the bed to face her, his eyes blinking open. “Haruno-san,” he murmured in greeting. He looked like he had just woken up. What she was worried about was whether she had disturbed him unnecessarily.
Frowning, the young woman approached the bed, grabbing the chart as she went. Other than a few notes about his sleep and the regular confirmation of bedside checks, there were no other notations.
“My pager went off,” Sakura said softly, not wanting to wake him further if she had to. Uchiha certainly seemed only half there. “Did you need anything?”
“Aa,” he said, taking a deep breath, probably to clear his head. “I will be discharged soon?”
For once, Sakura smiled at the question. It was amazing what a few hours of steady productive work could do for her peace of mind and general goodwill.
“Yep,” she confirmed. “By noon you should be free of here.”
He nodded, eyes now fully open, though still clouded. “You’ve made this experience bearable.”
Sakura didn’t bother to repress the snort this time. “Believe me, solving your problem certainly helped with mine.”
“Yes,” she answered blithely. “Your constant paging was draining my batteries.”
“I see.” His eyes closed, and seemed to drop off right there.
The regular beeping of the heart monitor filled the quiet room and Sakura sighed as she took in his haggard appearance. He shouldn’t have woken up. It made no sense. He was still pale, with dark smudges under the eyes, and even with the toned muscles, Uchiha seemed too thin.
“You really ought to eat more,” she murmured, almost whispering.
The corner of his mouth twitched. “Is that your professional opinion?” her patient asked without opening his eyes.
Blinking, Sakura straightened. “Obviously.” What other opinion would there be? A flash of memory from several hours ago came to mind: three rows of red, shameful faces. Oh right, the fan club type.
The doctor shrugged as she moved back to the foot of the bed, hanging the clipboard in its place. “You’re lean enough as it is, and while you’re recuperating, you’ll need to supplement your diet with certain nutrients so that the bone mends properly. So yes, eat more.”
“Hnn.” He sounded thoughtful.
“Yes?” Sakura blinked her own bleary eyes, faintly affected by Uchiha’s obvious drowsiness. Sleep would be so nice right about now…
Uchiha only tilted his head and smiled. “My mother says I need to eat more as well.”
Well, that was… nice. Shaking her head, Sakura dismissed the sudden personal comment. “Listen to her then,” she said instead. “Is there anything you need before I go?”
Frowning slightly, he took another breath, his rib cage expanding to take in extra air. This time, he clenched his jaw, visibly holding back a yawn. It was kinda cute actually; he was trying to be polite.
“You’re going?” he asked finally, turning to look at the wall clock across the room.
“Mhm, end of shift.” Sakura rubbed a hand over tired neck muscles. “I’m going home to sleep myself.”
“Hnn,” he hummed absently, bringing his attention back to her. “Have a good day then.”
Smiling, she nodded. “You too, Uchiha-san.”
She watched him settle back into the covers and only then slipped out through the door.
The hallways were now brightly lit; the day shift already taking over the roles of the night.
Waving tiredly at a few greetings as she went, Sakura was already halfway home before realizing she still wore her hospital coat.
Part 2 – Compromise
“Good evening, Tsunade-san!”
Her mentor looked up from the paperwork in front of her and grunted. “Evening.”
Sakura grinned and swept on towards her own little office. For tonight it was going to be just her and the blonde. Shizune, in a rare display of giddiness, had booked the night off for a date. It had Sakura giggling and grinning as she heard the gossip mills grind furiously, speculating on who the lucky guy must be.
She knew. Tsunade knew. But that was it. Let the rumours fly, they’d never peg the right man.
The bubbly pink-haired doctor had just sat down after donning her overcoat when her senior poked her blonde head in through the doorway.
“Oh yeah, I thought I should let you know,” Tsunade drawled, and Sakura’s head jerked up. Drawling was never a good thing…
At that moment, her pager let out a cheerful little personalized tune and Sakura blinked as the older woman smirked.
“Huh?” Reaching into her pen holder, Sakura frowned, reading the tiny screen a number that belonged to the hospital itself. A number that was very familiar. “Sorry, Tsunade-san, gotta run.”
“301,” Sakura answered as she clipped the pager to her belt. The tune certainly was different tonight. “What did you want to tell me?”
Tsunade smiled wide. “Oh, never mind.” And she disappeared from view.
Okay, that’s odd and not a little alarming. Sakura blinked at the empty doorway, then checked that she had pen and notebook before striding out of the room. Her mentor was almost… playful.
Shrugging, the young woman made her way through the hallways, noticing the titters and wide smiles all around. Wow, I knew it was remarkable for Shizune to have a life away from the hospital, but staff is really loving it, Sakura thought as she passed yet another group which boasted knowing looks and coy glances. Unreal.
Standing in front of 301, Sakura tilted her head, smiling slightly. First patient of the evening! Smile wide!
She opened the door with confidence and walked in.
There was an Uchiha in the bed. Not just any Uchiha, but Uchiha Itachi.
“Uchiha?” She blinked. Distantly, she realized that she had dropped the suffix, but blamed it readily on shock.
Sakura took in the fresh bandages, new cast, a completely new wrist brace, slightly different arrangement of pillows, and the total lack of flowers. No, she hadn’t fallen back in time. Last time, he had gauze on just the left shoulder.
“Uchiha-san,” she said, this time with intent. He nodded. “What the hell did you do to yourself?”
He blinked. “Nothing intentional,” he insisted.
“Really?” Sakura stalked over to the chart and scowled as she read through the notes. “You broke it again?”
There was an indrawn breath, but she wasn’t done.
“And opened up your other shoulder,” the doctor read out, sparing a moment to level a glare at him, “and sprained your left wrist.”
Uchiha pressed his lips together. “I took a risk,” he admitted. “It’s what I do.”
“What you do?” she burst out. “What you are doing is undoing all of our previous work and injuring yourself further!”
“I will not reorder my life because of a minor injury.”
Sakura closed her eyes and took a deep breath. I will not kill my patient. I will not maim my patient further. I will not revoke all my patients rights to pain meds. I will not… Oh hey, there’s an idea.
Dark chuckle? Check. Evil grin? Absolutely malicious.
Sakura opened her eyes to see Uchiha frowning at her. “A compromise, Uchiha-san?” Her tone sweeter than any aspartame in existence.
His eyes narrowed. “Depends.”
“Spend the next two days here, without complaint. Recover for the next week before ‘working’ and practice appropriate precaution on your tricks until completely recuperated.”
“Sounds reasonable…” He nodded, but she could tell that her idea of precaution and his idea were miles apart.
“The catch is,” she smiled as his gaze sharpened. Oh yes, Raven, I will threaten you, “if I find you in my hospital again in the next month, I will sic the fan club on you. With my blessings. And Tsunade-san’s.” Her eyebrows lifted as his eyes widened by a smidge. “And I will place your room number in the hospital eNewsletter.”
At the last word, Uchiha resumed his frigid control. “You cannot do that. Not without consent,” he stated confidently. “It breaks the patient doctor confidentiality agreement.”
Sakura let one pale pink brow rise. “Not if it’s for staff only.” Which may have been a moot point, considering the fan club already knew where he was.
“If I refuse…?”
Sure, Sakura could be magnanimous and give the man points for testing out his options. “I let the groupies in now, rather than your next visit.”
There really wasn’t a choice. Either the man gave up any right of peace now or he followed the plan and let himself heal properly. Be reasonable or be an idiot.
Uchiha sighed and Sakura blinked.
Either she was getting used to reading his body language or he was loosening up around her. I’m betting on option one.
“Good!” She beamed at him. “Now what did you want?”
The man shifted slightly, leaning over to retrieve a pencil and stationary from the bedside table.
Sakura waited, bemused, as he straightened from his awkward motions. Soon enough, he was situated comfortably again among the pillows.
Scribbling a word or two on the paper, he then paused, stylus hovering, and regarded her. A rather slight—but handsome—smirk spread across his lips.
“I wanted your number.”
What. The. Hell. She blinked at him. Then turned and slipped the clipboard back onto the rail.
“Good night, Uchiha-san.”
And then she walked out, closing the door firmly behind her.
A scattering of footsteps echoed around the hall as Raven’s fan club dispersed. Sakura closed her eyes and groaned, feeling a headache forming.
It was another hour before her pager burst out into that strange melody again. Checking the number—Yes, 301. Sakura huffed and turned it on silent—she opted instead to continue her routine of personally checking the other patients uninterrupted.
With Tsunade locked in her office, eyebrows drawn together in an epic scowl, Sakura was the only medic free to do the rounds. The other senior doctors were all elbow deep in surgery.
When it buzzed again twenty minutes later, Sakura cheerfully ignored the call. 301 again.
The next two calls came from different rooms, which she—of course—attended to. Strangely, both were complaints about absent attendants.
Sakura frowned as she left the second room. That was strange. Usually the staff was spot on. For two rooms to be completely neglected for the past half an hour was bizarre.
Her pager vibrated again, twice; 301 and another random room in the same wing.
She went off to investigate the random room…
“I’m sorry Fouko-san,” Sakura shook her head, deciding to talk to Tsunade. “You are right, there should have been three nurses in the past forty-five minutes. Thank you for notifying me. Is there anything you need?”
Three rooms. All in the same department. All the same issue: nurses gone MIA.
Apologizing again, the pink-haired doctor backed out of the room, closed the door, and scowled. What the bloody hell was going on?
Her pager buzzed: 301.
Really? Now? Sakura chewed her bottom lip. Chances were, he was going to bother her again. On the off chance Uchiha actually needed assistance, there were nurses.
Only now, the staff seemed to be disappearing from this section.
So… she could ignore him again or go do her bloody job and hope that he wasn’t just playing.
A faint angry vibration punctuated her last thought.
With a sigh, Sakura strode off towards Uchiha’s room.
It wasn’t until she was in the same hallway that she noticed the hushed sounds of giggling coming from one of the halls.
Two rooms away from her destination, the pager buzzed. She didn’t bother to look down. Even the vibration setting was personalized.
The tittering was also coming from that same room.
And it sounded like a bunch of girls chattering. More likely, Sakura sighed finally putting the pieces together, the missing nurses gushing over their resident Uchiha..
“Ladies,” Sakura ground out as she opened the door. Several women, from intern to senior nurse, swung wide eyes her way. “Get out.”
“But—” “He needs—” “You don’t—” “I was—” “Uchiha-sama wants—”
Of everything, it was the ‘Uchiha-sama‘ that clenched it.
Not even acknowledging the patient, who was doing an impression of an ice sculpture, Sakura stepped back into the hallway and closed the door. She brought out her cell phone.
“Tsunade-san? Yes, it’s Sakura. I need you at 301.”
There was a holler of joy she was sure could be heard throughout the entire floor.
“See you soon then.” She hung up.
A handful of seconds later, Sakura swore that Tsunade was skipping down the halls towards her protégé.
“So?” her mentor asked cheerfully. “Is he still alive?”
Sakura blinked. “He’s fine,” she answered dutifully. “He may be a bit tense, but the girls wouldn’t hurt him.”
Tsunade frowned. “You mean, you haven’t put him fully in traction?”
“Me? No.” The younger woman shook her head. “What are you talking about?”
“What do you mean by girls?” the senior doctor shot back.
Sakura waved a hand at the door at her back. “Nurses are leaving patients unattended and congregating here to ‘coo’ at Uchiha. Thought you would like some stress relief.”
The blonde doctor scowled.
Sakura had to duck quickly to the side as Tsunade stormed through the door. Seeing the panicked looks of the women inside, she resisted temptation and shut the door without going through. It wasn’t like she needed to be on the inside to hear her mentor’s tirade.
“What the HELL do you think you are doing in here, you worthless simpering idiots? You have a job to do, and you are in here? What did I hire you for? No, don’t answer that. I hired you, yes you all, to tend to those in need and to ensure those who were in recovery were given every reasonable comfort in my hospital. I am not paying you top dollar to throw yourselves at the local celebrity!
“There are patients out there who are being neglected. For what? Because they are not popular? Because they are not Uchiha Itachi?
“I had this talk with a few other women, and men, and it was discreet and private. You know why? Because they didn’t neglect their duties. They did their own idiotic idol-worshipping in their own free time. And they deserved a modicum of respect. If a little. But you! YOU LOT. You deserve every single snide look!
“You left your responsibilities in the dirt when you came running to bother a patient… No, I don’t CARE if he is Uchiha Itachi—and if you call him ‘sama’ on more time, I will FIRE YOUR ASS.
“Did you even think about your actions? How it reflects on your career, your station, your reputation—MY HOSPITAL’S INTEGRITY?
“GO BACK TO WORK!”
At the final roar, Sakura watched a mass exodus of staff flew out of the room. Red cheeks, pale faces, stumbling steps, wide eyes, even some tears.
Waiting for the last straggler to sob out an apology, Sakura stepped cautiously into the room as the guilty fled. It had been a while since Tsunade had cut loose like that.
Her mentor stood breathing heavily, spine straight, chin up, eyes blazing. Even as she was visibly calming herself down, Dr Senju was an intimidating figure.
Sakura was no stranger to Tsunade’s lectures, and she knew perfectly how far her teacher’s voice could carry, but she had never had to deal with a disgusted Tsunade. Disappointed one, yes… but wow.
At her voice, the older woman blew out a breath and closed her eyes. “What a fucking mess,” she grumbled finally. “I’ll need to review all their files. The paperwork…” the senior doctor groaned.
Sakura could only give her a weak smile. “Sorry?”
“Bah.” A wicked grin flashed over Tsunade’s face. “I’ll just paint their resumes red, that’s all. About time some of the lower ranks got a few promotions.”
“Uh, huh.” The young woman felt herself go pale at the amount of upheaval the doctor was implying.
“Anyway,” the blonde turned to look at the sole male in the room. “Did you actually need something or was it just the groupies?”
As cautious as Sakura had ever seen him, Uchiha nodded slightly. “I was hoping to procure Haruno-san’s contact information for possible future house calls. My own family doctor will be going away for vacation in the next two weeks.”
Tsunade’s eyebrow arched up as she turned to her apprentice. “Not a bad idea.” With a faint smile, she added, “Since you may want to avoid the hospital for a while.”
The pink-haired girl yanked her jaw up off the floor. “Why?”
“You blew the whistle on the second fan club,” Tsunade responded wryly. “They are not going to like you right now.”
“But…” Sakura cast her eyes between a reserved, but triumphant, Uchiha and her resigned mentor. “My work here… My patients…”
The blonde sighed. “I’ll call in a few favours from my colleague’s hospital in Otogakure. Orochimaru owes me a few weeks of labour at least and his assistant Yakushi Kabuto has been talking about trading a few interns.”
“But they don’t care—”
“No, they aren’t the most ethical bunch,” Tsunade admitted. “But they follow whatever rules I put down, and they know how I work. Besides, a stricter strain of co-workers might shock my own staff into realizing how cushy their lives are right now.”
With a final sigh, the senior doctor gave Sakura an encouraging glance. “Take Uchiha up on his offer,” she urged. “It’ll be similar to a vacation of your own.”
Green eyes blinked as Tsunade nodded to the patient and slipped out the door.
The look Sakura levelled on Uchiha was nearly accusatory.
He held up the pencil and paper and smirked. “Phone number?”