The Stubborn Patient
It was gone midnight when Sasori finally decided to make an appearance. The floorboards creaked as he snuck across the room and crawled into his sleeping bag. I scowled into the darkness and sat up straight, my eyes practically glowing as I glared in his direction.
Unzipping myself from my bag, I made my way across the room silently and knelt beside his head, my fingers lingering over the lamp switch.
'Don't do it.' His voice made me jump, and I sighed, disappointed that my sneaking efforts had been for nothing.
'What time do you call this? And what's been going on today? I don't know what you said or did to him but Kichiro's not saying a word.'
I heard a huff and the rustling of bed sheets as he rolled over to face away from me.
When he didn't reply, I slapped my hand over the lamp switch and it flickered to life, half blinding myself in the process.
He made a sort of growling sound and tugged the sleeping bag up over his head away from the light, mumbling some sort of half-hearted insult.
'Hey!' I snapped, prodding harshly at where I guessed the side of his waist would be, and allowing a smug smile to cross my face when he jolted at the action. Apparently he was ticklish.
He groaned and rolled back to face me, though still fully engulfed by the covers. 'Go away, Emiko.' His voice was rough and tired and it almost made me pity him and leave him alone. Almost.
'Regardless of what happened I need to check you over for injuries.' I stated matter-of-factly, not forgetting that I had a genuine reason to be bugging him. 'Now get out of there before I drag you out.'
Finally, he let out a prolonged, heavy sigh and began to shuffle around again until his crimson hair came into sight. He sat up angrily and crossed his arms over his chest, angling his body away from me and the harsh lamplight. I rolled my eyes and turned the switch slightly, leaving a dim orange glow. His gaze moved to rest on mine in defeat, and he watched cautiously as several emotions flickered across my face. Even in this shadowy light, the bruising was clear as day over his left eye and forehead.
I grimaced at the sight, it looked sore as hell. Deciding against giving him another snarky comment, I reached up slowly to trace two forefingers over the affected area, my hand pausing every so often to weigh up the damage. That was when I noticed something.
'Did you clean out the cut yourself again?' My eyebrows knitted together at the pink jagged line. It was definitely a fresh wound, but there was no patches of dry blood and no sign of infection.
'Weird…' I mumbled, figuring he was lying but choosing not to argue. It was far too late at night for his stubbornness.
I shuffled closer and leaned forward so that our foreheads almost touched, my free hand lifted to cover his right eye. 'Can you see?'
He gave me an odd look before shifting his gaze from mine to just past my ear, looking at something in the distance behind me. After a moment, his eye refocused on mine and he nodded.
'Right. Well that's one thing I suppose. You're an idiot.'
'Because I can see?' He shot me a look that was a mixture of amusement and irritation.
I resisted the urge to slap him upside the head. 'You should have come straight to me as soon as you did that. There could have been serious internal damage, you could have affected your sight.'
'But I didn't, and there isn't. So what's the harm?'
'Have you had any dizziness?'
'Why ask if you're just going to decide for yourself?'
I pursed my lips and regarded him quietly, dropping my hands into my lap. It was only then that I realised how close we were, which usually didn't bother me since I often needed to be at this distance to examine any injuries he had obtained. My eyes widened for a split second as I felt my cheeks start to warm up, and I quickly let my head sag as I manoeuvred my hands into the relevant healing signs.
Palm now aglow with faint jade chakra, my hand lifted slowly to hover over his left eye. His eyelids drooped lazily, and after a few minutes they slid fully closed as he released a sigh of relief. I knew it must have been sore.
Feeling awkward all of a sudden, I decided to break the silence. 'So where have you been all this time?'
His eyes remained closed as he replied casually. 'Nowhere interesting.'
'Oh.' I hadn't really expected an actual answer. Chewing nervously on the inside of my cheek, I wracked my brains for another topic. 'Apparently there's a campfire gathering thing on tomorrow night.'
One honey coloured eye opened halfway to peer at me suspiciously. 'What're you doing?'
I blinked at him, confused. 'What?'
'Small talk. It's not like you.'
I supressed a gulp and suddenly found his injury very interesting. 'I was just making conversation. I thought you might know if my sister would be there…'
This time both his eyes open, and at such close proximity I was sure I saw a hint of guilt behind his enlarged brown irises. 'Oh. I would have thought so. I know a lot of people are looking forward to it.'
'Except you?' I guessed, judging by the way he rolled his eyes in disapproval.
He gave a humourless breath. 'Except me.'
'Oh, so you're not going then?' I pouted, slightly disappointed that I'd have to venture into the squad of strangers alone.
'I didn't say that.'
'…So you are going?'
He huffed and gave me another irritated look.
My chakra flickered out as I was momentarily distracted by his glare, causing him to wince at the pain that I had been masking with my healing jutsu.
'Sorry…' I mumbled, shutting up and quickly restarting my jutsu, I threw all my concentration into healing the cut over his eyebrow.
The minutes ticked by in silence again as I continued, forgetting the awkward situation and zoning out into medic-mode, which is why I flinched so violently when his fingers flicked my knee.
'What is wrong with you tonight?' He frowned, clearly unimpressed that my chakra had given out again.
I glared and snapped at him. 'Maybe if you weren't in such a bad mood I could concentrate better.'
It was a lie, my strange mood had nothing to do with his attitude, which in all honesty wasn't much different to any other time I healed him. My eyebrows knitted together as I tried to figure it out myself, but then a new thought entered my mind. 'Why did you flick me, anyway?'
'You were ignoring me.'
'I thought that's what you wanted…' I grumbled under my breath, finally finishing my work on his forehead.
'I mean I was speaking to you.'
'Oh. What did you say?'
'Doesn't matter now.' My both curious and annoyed look went unnoticed as he moved a hand up to rub his eyebrow, prodding experimentally.
'How does it feel? Any aching or numbness?'
He shook his head and I went about signing for my own special bubble jutsu, which I had taken to calling it after failing to come up with a professional sounding name. I pressed my palm back against the side of his forehead, and the familiar yellow bubble substance formed as I rolled it gently over the freshly healed area.
I felt him relax under my hand again and I risked a glance at his expression, only to accidently find myself locked in an intense hazel gaze. My lips parted slightly in surprise. How long had he been watching me? I broke away quickly, not missing his tiny smirk at the unavoidable blush now heating up my face. What the hell is wrong with me tonight?
I released the jutsu sooner than I could have, shuffling backwards slightly to admire my work. 'Right, all done.'
I wondered briefly who was more relieved that the process had ended. It's never fun for a medic who has a patient who is either far too proud or far too stubborn to allow other people to help or heal him. I decided it was the latter. Stubborn fit his character better.
I scrabbled to my feet and started to retreat to the other side of the room where my sleeping bag was lovingly calling my name, but my bare foot got tangled in loose material on the floor and sent my sprawling face first onto the wooden floor.
I leapt to my feet comically as quickly as I had hit the floor, earning an amused smirk from the redhead. I glared down hostilely at the offending object, which I now identified as the pack Sasori usually kept on his person during training.
I opened my mouth to scold him for leaving it lying around when a small, shiny glass bottle caught my eye. Bending down to retrieve the transparent container, I inspected it in the palm of my hand. Headache tablets?
Realisation dawned on me and my eyes shot to his. 'What is this?' I tried to ask calmly, but it came out more as a half growl.
He pursed his lips and squinted as he tried to come up with a lie, but I cut in again before he could.
'You really didn't clean your eye yourself, did you?'
He shook his head slowly, his expression cautious as he figured out that I knew exactly what I was talking about.
'You went to another medic?' Disappointment flashed through my eyes as I accused him, a small part of me hoping I was wrong. If he was avoiding using my service then I could end up being reassigned or worse, deployed. I couldn't have that, not when I was so close to seeing Mina again, and I was certainly not going to be sent away from her just because this over-confident, selfish jerk was too stubborn to accept medical assistance. 'Why?'
I didn't think he was going to reply as the silence dragged on, but eventually he shrugged. 'It was more convenient.'
'More convenient? What's that supposed to mean? Am I not healing you properly?'
'You heal me perfectly well actually.'
Blinded by the fear of separation from my sister, I skipped over the compliment. 'Then would you prefer I simply stick a band aid over your injuries and shove you back out the door with a cheery smile and a 'you'll be fine' on your way?' I hissed, lowering my voice as I heard sheets rustling from Kichiro's direction.
'You're overeating. It was just convenient.'
'What does that even mean?'
He huffed impatiently. 'Look, do you want me to say I find you annoying so I was avoiding you? Or that I hate the way your chakra prickles irritatingly when you use that bubble thing? Fine. If that's what you want then there's your reason. You're annoying, and your technique is incompetent.'
I flinched at his words, not expecting him to snap back so angrily. Granted, I had only known Sasori for little over two weeks, but the only other time I had seen him really angry was last week when Kichiro had accidentally ripped one of his scrolls, rendering it useless. And even then, he hadn't expressed such emotion as now.
Unable to find a suitable response, I shrunk away to wrap myself in my sleeping bag, looking at anything but him. He was still glaring at me, I knew. I could practically feel his gaze burning through my head as I shuffled under my covers and tucked them around my chin, staring blankly up at the ceiling.
After a minute, I heard him sigh slowly, before the light clicked off and the room was plunged into darkness, matching my rapidly plummeting mood.
I can't have failed so easily, not when it's my fault Mina was in this mess. What if she had ended up as acting medic for that psychopath we encountered in the marketplace back home? Or worse… I had no idea what the other men were like, and from what I'd seen already, I was sure as hell that I didn't want to find out.
Turning miserably onto my side, I finally let the tears run freely from my burning eyes, squeezing them shut and holding my breath as I silenced the upcoming sobs. I'm so sorry Mina.