Everything Is Alright "Did you hear? He's back…" "The Uchiha traitor?

I can't believe he'd show his face after what he did!" "Do you think he's as handsome as he was when he left? Should I break up with my boyfriend?" Sakura pointedly ignored the brief snippets of conversation she couldn't help but overhear as she walked to the hospital. She knew that the villagers had the right to think badly of her teammate—by betraying the village, he'd jeopardized them all. But she couldn't help but be angry by their unabashed gossip, they way they presumed to know anything about him. Of course, one could argue the same thing about her and Naruto, now. Upon entering the hospital, she was greeted by a harassed-looking, middle-aged nurse. "Sakurasan, thank goodness you're here! The Uchiha boy is refusing to let us treat him—he won't let anyone change his bandages, he won't let us monitor his heart-rate, he knocked the tray of food all over the floor—" "Relax, Notoko-san," Sakura soothed. "I'll take care of it. Which room was he in, again?" "Room 57," the nurse breathed, greatly relieved. "But be careful, Sakura-san, he's been very uncooperative. I was afraid he would punch me when I tried to give him a shot." Sakura smiled a little. Uncooperative. If there was ever a word for Sasuke, that was it. "I'll take my chances. Could you tell Tsunade-sama that I'd like to see her later? Thank you." Notoko bustled away as Sakura adjusted the messenger-bag on her shoulder and, after grabbing a file from the front desk, headed towards the dark-eyed boy's room. -Sakura had changed, Sasuke noticed idly as the girl entered his hospital room, rifling through a manila folder. She looked up briefly and offered him a distracted smile. "Good morning, Sasukekun. Did you sleep well?" Her voice was soft and distant, and Sasuke could tell she wasn't expecting an answer—which was good, because he wouldn't have offered one anyway. Her pin-straight, pastel pink hair brushed her shoulders and framed a delicate face with high cheekbones, a small nose, and peach-colored skin. The lashes that ringed her green eyes brushed her cheeks as she read a paper. She was only about 5"5, with a slim build. The top she was wearing was sleeveless and dusty green, with a black skirt and black leggings. A navy blue messenger-bag was slung over her right shoulder. Unlike when she was thirteen, her stride was not awkward and hesitant—still not graceful, but smooth. She emitted a quiet confidence, and Sasuke realized she must hold some amount of authority if she was able to pass the ANBU members guarding his door. She was almost-pretty, he decided, and realized he must be extremely bored if he took the time to assess her like this. "Alright," she said, apparently having found the paper she was looking for. She dragged a chair over to the side of his bed and sat down, her left leg tucked under her. "It seems you broke your left leg and two of your fingers, sprained your right wrist, cracked two of your ribs, and had a

mild concussion. It's strange that's all, considering you fought someone so powerful. I'm assuming this was mainly a genjutsu-oriented battle, then?" Sasuke shrugged. It had been for the first three-fourths of it, before it progressed to ninjutsu and a bit of rapid taijutsu. Both of their heads turned towards the door at the same time to see Neji enter the room, appearing, could it be, almost disheveled. Almost. The pale-eyed young man coolly ignored Sasuke and looked to Sakura, his expression carefully neutral. "Sakura, could I speak to you, please? It's important." Sakura blinked at him and smiled uncertainly. "Of course, Neji. Do you mind waiting a little while, though? I just need to finish up with Sasuke-kun." "I'd rather not wait," he said, calmly but firmly. Sakura regarded him quietly for a moment before turning back to Sasuke. "Do you mind, Sasuke-kun? It'll only be a minute." Sasuke shrugged, his indifference clear. However, he couldn't help but wonder in a detached manner when Sakura had become acquainted with Hyuuga Neji. -Sakura followed Neji to the end of the hallway, out of earshot of the ANBU guarding Sasuke's door. "What is it, Neji?" she inquired a bit apprehensively. She knew he wouldn't interrupt her with a patient to chat about the weather. She doubted he'd ever chat about the weather, anyway—or chat, for that manner. "Sakura," he began steadfastly, "I don't think that… you should really be putting too much effort into reacquainting yourself with Uchiha Sasuke. I know that you still consider him a friend, but I don't think it's in your best interest—he's…" He broke off, eyeing her. "A traitor?" Sakura finished for him, deceptively mild. Neji looked her in the eyes. "Yes." Sakura didn't speak for a moment, struggling to curb a sharp retort. Despite her pretense of nonchalance when speaking with the nurse, Notoko-san, Sasuke's return affected her deeply. She was quite aware that she still cared about him a great deal—she even knew she loved him, though whether it was still in a romantic sense was debatable. She'd been fighting with herself not to run her hands over Sasuke's face, through his hair, to assure herself that he was real, that he was there, that her Sasuke-kun had finally come home. "Neji," she said quietly, "thank you for your concern. But I'd rather you stayed out of it." Neji's eyes narrowed slightly, and he seemed almost offended. "Even after all this, I trust Sasuke-kun. He's my teammate, and I'll always help him when he needs me." He appeared to choose his words carefully. "Just… be cautions, then. You're a smart girl, Sakura. I don't want you to get—" he bit off the last word, his face settling again into cultured placidness. "That's all, then. I apologize for wasting your time."

Sakura grinned at him with slightly forced cheer. "A conversation with you is never a waste of time, Neji. You're just such a barrel of laughs, you know?" One corner of his mouth turned up. "Well, one of us needs to be cheerful—you're always so depressing." Sakura nodded, feigning solemnity. "Yes, my therapy can only get me so far." She smiled at him softly. "Really, though, thanks for worrying about me, Neji." Aware that she was making him uncomfortable, she touched his arm lightly. "I'm going to get back to Sasuke-kun, now. I'll see you." -Sasuke didn't look up when Sakura re-entered the room and sat back down. "Sorry about making you wait," she said, smiling apologetically. He grunted indistinguishably, his eyes trained on the minute stitching of his sheets. "Well, they did a good job patching you up last night, but you have to stay in the hospital for another week or so." When Sasuke glared at her, she responded with a mild one of her own. "Sasuke-kun, you have to stay here—there's no arguing that. And you have to do what the nurses tell you to do—I was informed of your shenanigans earlier this morning—yes, Sasukekun, shenanigans, don't make that face. Really, the nurses know what's best for you, and they're only doing their jobs. You could try to be nice—talk about the weather, or something. Yeah." She exhaled loudly, ruffling her bangs. After grabbing her bag and returning the chair to its original position, she paused on her way out the door. Ducking her head so that her hair swung forward and veiled her face, she asked quietly, "Why did you come back?" Sasuke only answered, voice raspy with disuse, when her hand once again reached for the handle on the door. "Where else was I supposed to go?" "You could have gone back to Sound," she pointed out mildly, but Sasuke detected the underlying tension. He gave her a blank stare, slightly irritated that he couldn't see her face. "Their foreheadprotectors are gay." Sakura's head jerked up, eyes wide, and started laughing in a way that was both surprised and incredulous. Was what he said really the unprecedented? She turned to face him fully, and smiled, green eyes clear and gentle. "Sasuke-kun, I'm glad you're home." -Sakura knocked on the door to her master's office, still smiling slightly. Sasuke had never been that frank with her, unless he was criticizing her. It made her feel like maybe things would be different this time, like maybe she and Sasuke could really, truly be friends. "Come in."

" she warned. So… would you be willing to live with him?" Sakura's mouth dropped open. Very anxious. but kept silent. Traitors were rarely—almost never—treated so leniently. "Drag him along." Sakura wasn't sure she liked hearing her teammate's life be judged by the value of his blood. "What about my work in the hospital?" Tsunade shrugged. after all. "Hmm?" "In order to be kept under 24/7 surveillance. It would be a shame to let the Sharingan disappear from Konoha. "Well… okay. But. "If you say so. though. "You'll do fine. he coughed up information on the Sound and the Akatsuki. Tsunade shrugged again. and if he starts scaring the patients. He is to be kept under 24/7 surveillance for a year. they'll get anxious. someone needs to live with him. She really should be grateful. "No. Normally I would disregard this. but he seemed adamant about it. "I—what? Me? Tsunade-sama. but he'll be on a lot of upcoming missions. but you could handle him well enough until you got back-up if he did decide to try and escape. I'd ask Naruto to stay with him." Tsunade smiled at her encouragingly. anyway. If he starts giving you any trouble. She'd just be his warden." Tsunade actually looked a bit uncomfortable—that was new. and asked directly. lock him in your office. Sakura thought bitterly." . but he has vehemently refused to let some random ANBU guards live in his family's house." Yes. the beauty of the understatement. an uncouth response her mother would have criticized her for. And he did kill Orochimaru. I'm confident he'll pick you. and he can't go on missions for three. because that counted for so much in the long run. Oh. "I actually had a favor to ask you about that. Christ. Deidara. she reminded herself. of sorts. I really don't expect him to try anything." Sakura bit her lip. and Itachi. "So… there's no chance he could be executed?" Tsunade laughed humorlessly. "What are you going to do about Sasuke-kun?" The Godaime sighed and rubbed her temples. but Sasuke-kun won't be very happy about it... You were his teammate. sensing the inner turmoil behind the affected detachment. "If given the choice between you and an ANBU guard. "There's a… slight problem. After I laid out his options for him. anyway. and I'd rather he be as willing and complacent as possible—if the villagers know he's raising a fuss. When he is in the village. He can't leave the village for two years. Sakura went to stand directly in front of the Hokage's desk. you can hand the Uchiha over to him. however." Sakura bit her lip. just punch him. that…" That what? It wasn't like it meant anything. which we are thankful for. how awkward would that be? And. dealing with the Sound and ferreting out the last members of the Akatsuki.After shutting the door quietly behind her. she didn't have time to babysit him.

It was a daunting thought. He could tell that Sakura was just as uneasy about the living arrangement as he was. no grime. just ghosts and memories and echoes. He had to admit that he appreciated the change. Rewritten: 3/6/10. blood everywhere. trying to rid it of the blood stains. Home. did not display their fan on her back. hadn't it?) Who had…? He glanced at Sakura. or Sakura." (No. Yes. to put it mildly. however… Everything Is Alright Sasuke was not pleased. insulting. After walking quickly through the deserted Uchiha sector. a person who did not bear the Uchiha name. it was all relative. he supposed. it was only for a year—twelve months. It was exactly the same as he remembered—cold. . It was eerie how it looked exactly as it had the last time he'd been here. Sasuke had grudgingly agreed to let her live with him. She correctly interpreted his look. they arrived at the house Sasuke had grown up in. Sakura wondered whether she would be able to live with him after almost seven years of absence. he was sure that the next time he checked." she explained. but now it's fit for human habitation. That doesn't seem to have an impact on the universe. to live in his ancestral home was ludicrous.Sakura smiled in a noncommittal sort of way. back when she'd blabbered incessantly whenever she was nervous or upset or happy. The idea of allowing Sakura. Besides. frowning. not humans. it was better than some random ANBU officer. as Tsunade had predicted. desolate. (But blood. the year would be over and he would have his house to himself. or anyone else. "I was planning on it. "I made sure they didn't move anything or throw anything out. She hadn't spoken much while they walked to the Uchiha manor." -Only when she was lying in her bed that night did she allow herself to worry. Do I wish I did? Definitely. while the chafed skin on his palms and knuckles dripped and only worsened the problem. though Sasuke was starting to suspect that she wasn't as chatty as she'd been in their Genin days. three hundred and sixty-five days. and empty. Still. furiously scrubbing at the floor. Sasuke noticed that what he could see of the outside house so far was clean—no dust. but the Sharingan had always been special. … It didn't make it any less awkward. "I hired a Genin team to clean the house a couple of days ago. Disconcerted.) The inside of the house was immaculate—Genin these days were more thorough. invisible to the human eye. twelve years ago. Takes place after the Itachi-Sasuke fight. Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto--or Sasuke.

Sakura didn't seem offended—in fact. and tugged him to his feet with surprising strength. but it was rather difficult with all the stares he was getting. "You coming?" Her eyes were very green. but he couldn't go anywhere without Sakura. dead-white. It's the whole reason I'm here. It was still strange. still foreign. fleeting. He almost expected her to revert to her old ways and fling her arms around him. Sasuke-kun. to not have to take care of everything by himself. listening to her footsteps reverberate in a house that had been devoid of sound for so long. You're not doing anything dangerous or illegal. I just thought it would be polite to ask." She grabbed his forearm. Watching her. "Hn. It must have had something to do with being a medic— "healing hands" and all that.His emotions must have been evident on his face. Sasuke attempted to blend into the background and wait this torturous ordeal out. she walked by him towards what had once been a guest room and brushed her fingertips over his left hand. The year seemed pretty bleak. Come on. Sasuke ignored them and watched Sakura shop. Sasuke narrowed his eyes and pulled his arm away. as she'd left the room a second later. "I know. She smiled unperturbedly at his obvious disdain. Obviously she had gotten more flippant while he'd been gone. everything is alright. he mused darkly. shopping for groceries with his mother . and followed her slowly. but it soothed Sasuke a bit. for Sakura was watching him. Do you want to come?" "It's not like I have a choice. scowling and fidgeting. anyway. and whispering to him that it's alright. he doubted she even noticed. Still." She sat down on his bed. crying. are you?" He raised an eyebrow at her." he pointed out blandly. which had been clenched into a fist. away from her face. "Hey. obviously concerned. "I'm supposed to check. to do something. It was quick. -The market was so crowded that Sasuke actually had to make an effort not to lose sight of Sakura. Instead. "I'm going to go to the market—there's no food in the house. and had to stick her head back in. shoving his hands in his pockets. If only she were taller. he had to admit that it was kind of nice to share responsibility for something. still awkward. with her hair pulled back in a messy ponytail. Sakura—it couldn't have been anyone else—stepped in. and he edged away from her. A knock on his door sounded. she had to pause every once in a while to brush her bangs out of her eyes. -Sasuke had been lying on his bed for over an hour. but… it reminded him of times spent in this very market. he noticed. She was wearing baggy black pants and a pale yellow hoodie. He wanted to get out of the house." he muttered. She shrugged.

It almost made him feel unnecessary. this Sakura could take care of herself as well. but at least they were pleasant memories. He didn't like that she was able to bring up memories of his mother. -When they arrived back at the house. your Sharingan can see everything. A ridiculously over-filled shopping cart was being pushed through the crowd by a diminutive woman who clearly couldn't see where she was going. "So. he rifled through the contents of one of the baskets. protein bars. and rice. expendable. who was speaking amiably with the check-out attendant. Rice. aren't you? Man. vegetables. "You realize that it's a very rare occasion that I am willing to make something that requires time and effort. he . blueberry and chocolate chip and cinnamon chip and double chocolate. "Fine. I will offer you no sympathy. propping up her face on her hand. Sasuke sat in one of the kitchen chairs. At the last second Sakura took a quick. A few minutes later Sakura was loading him down with two large baskets of food. A good portion of his memories of Team Seven involved himself protecting her from harm. tomatoes (many. The other basket turned out to contain solely packages upon packages upon muffins." He shrugged. He followed grudgingly as she wove through the crowds. what do you want for dinner?" He offered a noncommittal grunt as he inspected the lethally sharp blade. intent on pulling her out of the way." An hour later they were eating some sort of dish involving fish." he intoned flatly. various frozen foods. his muscles still tensed.on sunny afternoons. another one tucked in the crook of her arm. sharpening a kunai and keeping an eye on her. he thought approvingly)." she ordered. While walking." He didn't deign to reply. It wasn't extraordinary. "I'm going to be getting home late from the hospital most nights. Sasuke looked at her. narrowly avoiding being pulverized. She didn't seem alarmed at all and only carried on her conversation as if nothing had happened. yes?" she warned. maintaining a distance of five feet between them. which was all that mattered to Sasuke. but if you don't like it. "You like muffins. Sakura immediately went to work storing things in the refrigerator and cupboards. Sasuke gradually rested his weight upon the wall once more. fluid step backwards and to the side. Perhaps. She glanced at him. making sure she didn't put anything in a weird or unprecedented place. it was bound to crash right into Sakura. apples. "Quite perceptive. "Make yourself useful. Sasuke automatically pushed himself off the wall he had been leaning against. bread. prompting her to sigh. and canned foods were accounted for. eggs. but it was edible. so it's either eating out or making something along the lines of instant ramen. In the direction it was going. Chewing slowly. instant ramen. Sasukekun. After she had finished she sat down next to him. among other changes.

" -The next morning at six AM Sasuke rolled over in bed. Eventually she stepped back a bit and squinted blearily at him. After a little while Sakura stumbled out of her room. "Yes?" He looked at his plate and moved some rice around." She tilted her head. Her hair was a mess.looked over at his eating companion. She was watching him carefully. muscular countenance. she didn't adjust her course and kept trying to walk forward. He would never have guessed she was that disoriented when she woke up. hey. nothing. Sakura was reading what appeared to be a very large." A few minutes later Sasuke looked up again. and it appeared as if every shuffle of her feet was an effort. "I'm still glad. "Who put that wall there…?" she muttered. vaguely amused. "I never thought I'd see the day you would preach dining etiquette. After turning it off. "It's rude to read at the table. before her knees buckled and she collapsed forward. Get a grip. swearing under his breath as his alarm rang. he started a pot of coffee in the kitchen. "… 'suke-ku…" she mumbled. he was surprised when she walked right into him. After taking a quick shower and throwing on dark gray pants and a loose black shirt." She grinned impishly at him and turned a page that was crammed with ridiculously small print. wearing a white camisole and mint green pajama pants." "Then what are you staring at. "Nothing." he muttered. She smiled slightly and turned another page. How's the food?" "It's fine. and he realized she was even more out of it than he thought. "I'm glad. most likely very heavy textbook as she ate. She noticed his eyes upon her and glanced up. he rubbed irritably at his eyes and wandered over to his bathroom. Sasuke-kun. Even after she bumped into him. and Sasuke. He gripped her shoulders loosely and bent down to look her in the eye. yet he rose early anyway. . He was always in a horrible mood when he woke up. Moving to brush past her in the hallway. "It's still fine. and didn't look away when he frowned at her. her head down and her hair covering her face." he demanded in irritation. "Sakura. didn't move out of her way." he said monotonously. There was no hope of her slight frame pushing past his tall.

Sakura!" She didn't respond. This story is more about their emotional. Sasuke pulled her out before she slipped and turned off the water. Slipping one arm around her shoulders and the other under her knees. while he stood outside. As stated in the summary. So. smirking. Frustrated and a little concerned. I thought it could read: 'Uchiha Sasuke. "And didn't you say you were going to kill me?" . Sputtering and livid. inchoate plot planned out for this baby. Rewritten: 3/6/10. in all honestly. will bite if provoked." Sakura began as they walked the dusty streets of Konoha on their way to the hospital. Sakura shrugged her shoulders. and even Sasuke's not screwed up enough to harbor romantic feelings toward a maternal figure. and almost grinned. his hands stuffed typically in his pockets. Before Sasuke could catch her she righted herself. I think. The SasuSaku-ness is going to take a decent amount of time progressing. screaming and flailing. If found. she glared daggers at him while pushing her sopping wet hair out of her eyes. Don't expect passionate kissing scenes anytime soon--if ever. He positioned the shower head to aim directly at her face and turned it on unceremoniously. psychological relationship than their physical one. in case we ever get separated. already sleeping deeply. dead. "I am nothing if not full of brilliance.' What d'you think?" "That's a great idea." Sasuke opined sarcastically. a smug expression evident on her face. "that I should get you a collar—you know. Sasuke is going to begin to see Sakura as a mother. and exited the bathroom. and they never met at Orochimaru's lair in this story. I'll have to check on that. I have a very shaky. Responds to hey you and that broody guy. he carried her into the bathroom and set her on her feet in the shower. Sasuke caught her as she was falling and moved to prop her up against the wall. Sasuke heard her muttering some extremely colorful words as she slammed the door to her room shut. please return to the magnificently awesome Haruno Sakura." "You're full of something. Uchiha! Dead. He eyed her. Everything Is Alright "So I was thinking. so bear with me if sometimes things don't match up. "You are dead. yeah. gripping her upper arm to keep her balanced. Sasuke developed an idea. do you hear me? Ugh!" She tried to storm past him but slipped on the slick floor. shaking her lightly. "Sakura? Hey." Sasuke muttered. stuck out her tongue at him. Three seconds of cold water to the face and Sakura was wide awake. After that. I'm fairly confident that something bad is going to happen to Sakura (because Sasuke can never have anything easy in life) and Sasuke will have to help her through it (a reversal of roles).Startled. and casually caught her wrist when she half-heartedly tried to smack him upside the head. all right. Oh. dead! I am going to kill you. anyway.

" "The hospital's that busy?" he interrogated. No. she specified. Sasuke glared at her fiercely. as well. so Sasuke softened his hold somewhat. and playing shougi with Shikamaru. "I've been helping Tsunade-sama with some other stuff and training with a lot of people. He rolled his eyes. "It's not just the hospital. When Sakura greeted her cordially the nurse broke off in the middle of Sakura's name when she caught sight of Sasuke. whose name was Tomoyo. Yeah. Oh. Sasuke thought miserably. She took another bite. and going to Ichiraku with Naruto. haven't gotten the chance to sleep much. a wicked gleam in her eyes. I still get missions from time to time. Sasuke-kun. He had assumed girls would no longer admire him after he betrayed the village. He's…going to be my personal assistant. "Oh! Shizune-senpai told me to tell you that she left the files you were looking for on your desk. The nurse. "That's ridiculous. too." When he frowned."I'm biding my time. who had come to stand beside Sakura. She winced. for she was grinning broadly. She extracted a protein bar from her messenger-bag and bit into it. referring to her zombie-like state a few hours previous. He let go immediately and she used it to stifle a yawn as Sasuke watched her from the corner of his eye. finishing off the last of the protein bar. "Tomoyo-san." "You're ridiculous. his health has been failing him recently. Willing Sakura to move and cursing his inability to go anywhere without her. …And helping Ino with the flower-shop. -The hospital was busy as usual. "Tomoyo-san. I teach some classes at the Academy. I'm an ambassador to Suna occasionally. but she paid him no heed. a bit doubtful. patients being directed every way and nurses bustling about. no. "Could I have my wrist back." Sasuke gave her a look. now?" He was mildly surprised to realize he was still gripping her right wrist lightly. "Only in the past couple of months or so. "Are you always that out of it when you wake up?" he asked. dear God. Sakura-senpai." she retorted easily." Tomoyo smiled shyly." she informed him ominously." She moved to shake his hand. A young female nurse with brown hair hurried toward Sakura. but kept an insistent pressure. She frowned reproachfully at him. this is Sasuke-kun. did you need something?" The brunette snapped out of her trance. Sakura obviously noticed the younger girl's reaction. and I have to go to the Hyuuga Compound once a week to check on Hiashi-sama. Sasuke glared at her when she threw the wrapper at him. did you fill out the report I requested?" . but Sasuke backed away swiftly. By the way. no. flushed crimson. he gave a sharp pull to her arm. "It's nice to meet you. I've been really busy. I guess.

bemused. made it a point to stand between the two prodigies." She led him to a room somewhere on the seventh floor. "Sasuke-kun. if you do anything to—" "Neji?" Sakura brushed past him at the doorway and. referring to Sasuke. "You are so predictable. You'd be more like a donkey. twirling a kunai idly. "I'm allowed to?" "Tsunade-sama told me you could vegetate here while I made my rounds. There was a black couch against the wall facing the door with a coffee table in front of it." Hyuuga Neji regarded Sasuke coldly. It wasn't his office. Uchiha.Sakura gestured flippantly with her hand as Sasuke dragged her down the hall. "I'm going to go make my rounds now. "I'm not your dog. "I'll get it to you tomorrow." "You said that three days ago!" "And I'm sure I meant it!" Sakura called over her shoulder as she was pulled around a corner. It was moderately sized with white walls and a dark blue carpet—clearly the faculty offices differed from the rooms the patients were situated in. silent contemplation' or whatever. "Sit there. On the opposite wall." He scowled darkly at her. I have a bunch of books you can read. or you can do that thing where you reenact the meaning of 'deep. Sasuke didn't say anything. Sakura watched him. "I agree." He grunted. adjusting her bag. Sasuke notice shrewdly. "Where is Sakura?" Sasuke ignored him pointedly. "Listen. She motioned him vaguely towards the couch as she set her bag on the floor.The door opened. near the door." She laughed lightly and poked his arm. I heard about your hindrance." Sakura explained. "Saku—oh. The rest of the space along the walls was taken up by bookshelves. sighing." She nodded. Eventually Sakura rose and ran a hand through her hair. She turned to her dark-haired companion." She took a seat at her desk and Sasuke grudgingly sat on the couch. Neji's quickly lost all signs of his threatening aura and inclined his head formally. I assume you're staying here?" He looked up briefly. Sasuke illustrated his intent by slouching further into the upholstery. "Sakura. Come. so the task of greeting anyone who dropped by didn't fall to him. Forty-five minutes later a knock sounded on the office door. "My office is this way. It was in that manner they spent a good three hours punctuated only by Sakura occasionally pacing the room and mumbling to herself. . "…No. do you even know where you're going?" That made Sasuke pause and release her arm. Neji glared at him." he said. was a large desk overflowing with papers. really.

"I'm sure he will be too." "It's better to be safe than sorry. and Sasuke noticed that his face had become lined and that his hair way graying. in that case. informing Sakura that he had business with the Hokage. Father. "You are such a gossip-addict. You could have at least waited until Sakura was due to come in three days. -"I'm glad you're here. and I fear he's having trouble breathing." The corners of her mouth upturned slightly. Hinata opened the door and led Sakura and Sasuke inside." Hinata knocked on a large door at the end of a long hallway." She knelt beside him and began feeling his pulse." Hiashi nodded. What am I going to do with you?" "Actually. "I suggest you feel grateful. "I apologize for bothering you. I told you that I did not need a medic. if you're taking care of him. "Hinata. "It's really not a bother. and having to tote you around must be a terrible burden for her. He'll be with me for a while. but that doesn't have to be done here." Sakura said reassuringly as the Hyuuga heiress led them to her father's room. The room was plain and traditional." "I'll escort you." Hinata smiled. head of the Hyuuga clan. "My father has developed a cough. Sakura." Hinata said firmly. "By the way. Sasuke-kun is here with me today.Sakura frowned a bit at his wording. A voice sounded from within. but it was diminished by a fit of coughing. Hiashi-sama. I was wondering if you could come to the compound today." Hinatagreeted when the three shinobi arrived at the Hyuuga Compound. I have some paperwork to do. "Why don't Sasuke-san and I go make tea while you're working. I heard about that. It's nothing serious. "Yes. "I'd like that." "No worries. Neji. Apparently she had grown a backbone while he had been away. Neji had parted ways with them at the main gate. He looked up and frowned slightly. She glanced at him and mouthed: Don't provoke him. "Enter. Hinata. Sakura is a valuable medic." The voice was masculine and powerful. but otherwise didn't respond." Sakura nodded and glanced at the clock. Sakura? Or does he have to stay in the same room as you?" Hinata offered softly. Hiashi-sama developed a cough last night. Ready to go. . Sakura bowed slightly. Sasuke-kun?" The reclining genius pushed himself off the couch and ambled over to Sakura's side. Hiashi sighed. but it was a bit quivery. Hyuuga Hiashi. It made Sasuke wonder why he had bothered to walk with them in the first place. "I'm sure he's going to be fine. sat on a tatami mat on the floor. but Hinata-sama is very worried." he addressed the young medic. "I can probably leave now. Sakura. but sighed playfully.Sasuke smirked." Sasuke frowned at him and averted his eyes." He looked directly at Sasuke.

" she said carefully. Sasuke only followed her grudgingly after Sakura made shooing gestures at him. he actually hadn't known. "I don't see a problem with that. "He's going to be fine. He had never asked for this and would be perfectly happy if he didn't have to follow her everywhere—at least. Sasuke didn't comment. She turned to face him when the water was boiling and spoke quietly. would you?" Sakura noticed Sasuke leaning against the wall. She did. but clearly. I fear she has been overworking herself lately. and I think Neji-niisan does as well. running a hand through her hair. "I would appreciate it if you would try not to trouble Sakura too much." she told Hinata." Hinata told him. A young maid bowed to Hinata as they passed her in the hall. greatly admires her. Narutokun could tell you more. aside from Tsunade-sama. "She was a mess after you left." she said conversationally. She glanced at Hinata apologetically. "I don't really know what I'm trying to say." She inclined her head towards her father and walked towards the door. They arrived in a small kitchen adjoined to a tea room. Hinata didn't comment on his taciturn behavior and busied herself setting a kettle on the stove. I…" Her eyes flickered to the doorway as Sakura walked in. which is what he's doing now. She's the best medic in the village. so nag him to keep applying that ointment. his arms folded across his chest. my father had a heart-attack while she was visiting me. And tea would be lovely. but I think his arthritis is acting up again. What I'm trying to say is…" The kettle started ringing. and she looked grateful to have an excuse to turn away from him. as happy as Sasuke ever was. she took a deep breath. "I'm sorry if Sasuke-kun has been being rude to you. Two years ago. If Sakura hadn't saved him. "as long as you don't leave the building. thank you. "Just come to the west wing tea room when you're done here. When the maid looked up. "Yes." ." Sasuke ignored her offer and leaned against a wall. you know. and Hinata smiled kindly at her. Hanabi. With nothing else to do. grimness transforming her face.Sakura bit her lip and appeared to contemplate it for a moment. Just take care of her. Sasuke-san. he would have…" she faltered and started fiddling with a teacup. At least…don't hurt her. "You can sit at the table. And what was with these people? It wasn't like he was trying to be a burden to her. He wouldn't admit it. I'm just extremely grateful she was there. "There's a special tea that he should be drinking for his cough—I'll write out the ingredients. She worked silently for a few minutes. sliding off her navy blue messenger-bag." She frowned suddenly. I gave him something to help him sleep. respect shone in her eyes before she walked quickly down the hall. The pale-eyed girl smiled in relief and gesticulated for Sakura to sit down. "My family owes a lot to her." Hinata nodded. okay? She'll work herself to death if given the option. "I'll make tea. setting three cups down on the table and arranging a tray of light sweets. My sister. well.

"Fine." "Too busy to eat?" He was beginning to see why Hinata worried about Sakura overworking herself." . Clearly surprised. writing something. she stared up at him. I'm busy." She glared at him a moment longer before capitulating. no. "Eat. "Eat. "Right. and opened a large book abruptly. "What a terrifying thought.Half an hourlater. She glared at him." "I do not!" Sakura disagreed. he slammed a plate of riceballs down on her desk." she sighed. "I'll eat later. Sakura turned to Sasuke." Sasuke twitched and Sakura smirked. indignant. they departed from the compound. obviously irritable from exhaustion. "No." He shoved the plate toward her." he ordered. however." he told her flatly." She headed towards her room." He would be damned if he sat down and played tea-party with them. discussing people and events. however." he finished for her. Sasuke frowned at her and left the room." Whether she was saying Sasuke hadn't been rude or was telling Sakura not to apologize was indeterminable. She shrugged. He knocked on her door and entered without waiting for a reply. it was ten o'clock. She was at her desk. could you sit down. "Yes?" "You haven't eaten. "I'll eat later. She looked up at him wearily." They chatted for half an hour. "Hinata said you overwork yourself." Hinata giggled. and he still hadn't heard her go to the kitchen. "You act like his mother. "Sasuke-kun." she told Sasuke when they returned to the Uchiha Manor. assuming she'd eat later. -"You can go make yourself something to eat.Hinata shook her head. Sasuke shrugged and ambled towards the kitchen. and frowned disapprovingly at her. and after Sakura scrawled the tea ingredients on a piece of paper. "You are an insufferable brat sometimes. scattering a few loose papers. "You…" "Are telling you to eat. He sneered condescendingly at her. already extracting many papers from her bag. "Thank you. She sighed." she snapped. Three hours later. "I have some stuff to do. are you aware? Honestly. please?" "No.

Sakura was leading slightly. Sasuke-kun. and because when Sakura finished speaking. anyway. He waited until she had eaten a rice-ball before announcing his departure. but Naruto's trained eye could still catch the circles haunting the skin under her eyes. Does anyone think SasuSaku will still happen in the manga? It kills me to admit it. predictably. however. something akin to worry haunting his breathtaking features. Not usually. framing it delicately. A few strands that were too short hung around her face. I know all. I really hope Itachi just dies. because his black eyes would occasionally flicker to Sakura's face. In case you're one of those people that doesn't notice something unless you're bashed over the head with it (like me). Yum. His mind made up. He should get a load of karmic brownie points just for making her food. Grinning perkily." "I still have work to do." He wasn't concerned enough to force her to go to sleep. but I'm not going to get my hopes up. but his long legs enabled him to easily keep pace with Sakura's quicker strides. Naruto could tell he was listening." "Yeah. Duuuuuuuude. hidden in his pocket. (Take that at face-value) No. watched as Sakura and Sasuke walked down the street. Naruto leaped down from his vantage point and landed about ten feet in front of them. but NaruSaku is looking more likely at this point (yuck yuck yuck yuck icky icky icky eew). Her hair was back in a messy bun. His hands were.marks for stuttering is a lot of work. Besides. Sasuke can cook. but stayed outside her room a moment longer.For the first time Sasuke noticed the light. Opinions? Everything Is Alright Naruto. speaking animatedly and occasionally gesticulating with her hands. which I used to like but now find vaguely icky. Hinata does not stutter in this fic." "Whatever. she could dictate her own bedtime. he answered shortly in his undoubtedly dispassionate manner. Do not deny it. Neji is interested in Sakura romantically. yeah. I'm just using it to add a little tension. "Goodnight. she looked happy. So. "I'm going to bed—you should too. Sakura was a big girl now. Boo-rah. And let's face it. subtleshadows under her eyes. Still. Sasuke. but she was turned back to face her dark-haired companion. he waved. making the little ... Sakura stuck her tongue out at him but didn't seem irritated in the slightest. She's nineteen and I decided that she would have grown a backbone." Sasuke left and closed her door. "Oi. and his expression was set on his default of impassive. Her eyes were bright." . we all love to see Sasuke get jealous. this will not be NejiSaku. Sasuke walked slowly. What would be really awesome is if Sakura came and found Sasuke after he collapsed. No. perching on a rooftop. Sakura-chan.

and I want to have at least three bowls. Naruto winced sympathetically. bastard. "We need to talk. "We already are." He sprinted off towards Ichiraku. "Your past speaks for itself. Naruto turned to Sasuke and said seriously. "Anyway. regardless. let's go. her nose wrinkled with distaste. I need to go to the flower shop. Sakura sat between the two boys and ordered quietly. Sasuke was picking idly at a bowl of ramen when Sakura approached them. please? It'll take me about twenty minutes. before sighing and turning to Naruto. Ino mentioned that I was coming to pick up some flowers. "While you two sharpen your admittedly lacking wits on one another.Smiling instantly. I'm going to make this simple. "We'll meet you at the ramen stand." he shrugged. who had come to stand a bit behind Sakura. so my mother left a message with her…I have to eat dinner with my parents tonight. "Why does everyone assume I'm going to hurt her?" Naruto glared at him coldly. what's wrong?" he asked. "Jeez." Sakura rolled her eyes. If you upset Sakura-chan. his voice laced with concern. I haven't seen you since I dragged you back to the village. tough break." Her voice was resigned. yeah?" Sakura sighed. Sakura-chan. Sakura-chan. Sakura bounced forward and kissed him on the cheek. "Naruto! You're back from your mission already?" "Yep. "can do?" ." His expression brightened. her eyes narrowed and her mouth turned down." She agreed to meet them there. I think the old man's running low on miso. A vase of tiger lilies was cradled to her chest. Naruto. "What's obscene is the fact that there seems to be an even bigger stick up your ass than there was before. before turning to Sasuke. you can pick the wall." Sasuke sneered at him. Sakura-chan. "Hey." Naruto snorted. "Hey. "Ino told me that my mother came to the shop earlier today. Is there anything we. Naruto seemed to notice her depressed demeanor as well. When Sakura was out of sight." "Of course I'll baby-sit the bastard for you. "You really need to expand your dietary horizons. "Listen." Naruto ignored him." he looked pointedly at Sasuke." Naruto told her generously. Sasuke followed reluctantly. I will put your head through a wall—any wall." Sasuke regarded him indifferently. it was easier than expected. Sasuke. "Haven't you gotten tired of that stupid orange jacket yet? It's obscene. got it?" Sasuke appeared frustrated. but it will be a wall. will you watch Sasuke-kun.

at least. "Could you take Sasukekun with you tonight? I don't want to subject him to the torture of spending an evening with my mother. On her feet were black ballet flats. The pathway was lined artfully with pansies. . The front lawn was unbelievably green and cut meticulously." Sasuke relaxed. with light green shutters. It seemed to be turning out that there was a lot he didn't know about her. and our last encounter didn't really end well. bigger yards.Sakura unwound the elastic securing her bun and began fiddling with it. "I'm so sorry. "That's alright." Sakura said in response to Sasuke's inquiring look. and then Hinata-chan's father wants to speak with me. She looked…elegant." Sasuke got to his feet. I guess Sasuke-kun will just have to come. "You feeling okay?" he inquired cautiously. She stopped on the door-step and didn't move to ring the doorbell." She looked at the thus-far silent boy on her left. I have a mission briefing tonight. Almost-pretty." He gulped nervously. He wasn't sure he liked that. Sasuke-kun. obviously intimidated by the imposing Hyuuga patriarch. She offered him a strained smile. and the door swung open to reveal Sakura. I'm being polite. and Sasuke could vaguely see a lush garden behind the house and hear a stream gurgling. She was dressed in a long white skirt and pale pink tank top." Sasuke was sitting on his bed when a knock sounded at his door." Sasuke had never known she had lived in the city. It's one of the reasons we moved to Konoha from the city. It was three stories tall and stark white. "Come on. He grunted. She led him out of the house and walked for a good deal of time until they reached a large. "Is that okay with you?" "Once again. her hair hung straight and smooth around her face. She looked a bit sick. no choice. secluded house near the outskirts of the village. Sakura sighed." Naruto grimaced immediately. Naruto. his concern sated now that he knew it was something so trivial—in his mind. "And once again. "She designed the entire yard." Sasuke said monotonously. Sakura-chan. "My mother is a landscape designer. Two small emeralds were embedded in her ears. Sakura opened the gleaming gate and stepped onto the pathway. "I'm fine. and she was wearing a delicate silver necklace with a matching bracelet. It's a concept you might want to learn sometime. My mother has been known to hold a grudge. It would be terrible if we were late for our doom. looking for all the world like a convict heading towards the electric chair. It's just…I haven't seen my mother in a few months.

she hadn't been kidding when she said the house was easy to get lost in. which she munched on while her mother went off on a tirade about promptness and if you're going to eat outside like an animal." Sakura mused. but it put Sasuke a bit ill at ease." he answered her seriously. the door burst open. striking woman stood before them. "You're late!" she snapped. I can't." "You're very helpful. so if we ever get separated. just stick close to the wall. Thanks. but if my mother throws her knife across the table at me. . He wasn't worried about himself. this is the point in the horror movie when the entire audience is screaming 'Don't go in there!'" "You're being dramatic. As if she were calmed down by her mother's anger. caught her easily and simply carried her up the few remaining steps. It was built like a maze. holding a platter of small finger sandwiches. She straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath." "You can. Sakura blinked at him. "Hey. you may as well go find a gazelle to hunt! Then she promptly slammed the door." She shook her head vehemently. Sasuke followed her into the house. but trying to find her would be irritating. "I changed my mind. Sasukekun. right behind her. "Fine. growing more agitated by the second. "No. "It'll be fine. Three-fourths of the way up the stairs she tripped on her long skirt and plummeted backwards. He set her down a good distance away from the staircase as a precaution." "Yeah. I expect you to shield me." This time she didn't bother to attempt to ring the doorbell and entered quickly." He looked around. "I guess we can just wander around until we get called for dinner. this house is really easy to get lost in. but appeared a bit reassured. Nonetheless. a bit dazed. Sakura's hand darted out and grabbed a sandwich. It was furnished simply and tastefully." he said dryly. Sakura finished the sandwich slowly and turned to Sasuke. and tapped his knuckles to her forehead lightly.Sasuke waited a while before prodding her arm. he kept a loose grip on her upper arm. but before her raised hand could press the doorbell. "…Wow that was scary. Her eyes moved to a staircase." She bit her lip. "Just so you know. A tall. "Slim to none. You'll either find your way out eventually or get eaten by a Minotaur." he informed her." She glanced at him dully. "Let's go. which she tugged Sasuke towards. I can't go in there. "What are the odds of finding a gazelle around here?" she asked mildly. Sasuke. Sasuke-kun." she warned him. Everything seemed to be a different shade of white. He smirked at her.

"My mother didn't want me to become a ninja. She perked up slightly when she saw a particular door. "You have to say that. so we argued a lot. you're my father. Sakura's smiled widened before she stood. "I always hated this place. but she got the hang of it near the end of the song. motioning for him to sit beside her." Sasuke urged impulsively. . Her expression told him she was indecisive." One of the corners of Sasuke's mouth upturned slightly. "I forgot how relaxing this was. I want to show you something. She blew the dust off before opening the piano. I was in here. It was a soft. Her fingers fumbled sporadically due to the long period of time she had spent without playing." Sakura glanced doubtfully at the dusty piano. His light brown hair was thinning a bit on top and his face was buried in a large book. revealing pristine ebony and ivory keys. Sasuke could see where Sakura's literary taste came from. He hesitated briefly before lowering himself to the stool gingerly. ricocheting off Sasuke's ribcage. "You look lovely. He surprised himself and didn't know whether to regret it or not." She smiled slightly." He nodded and followed her out of the room. "C'mon." Sakura greeted a middle-aged man sitting at what Sasuke assumed was the dining room table. I'd lock myself in here for hours. One wall was missing. which puzzled him. "The piano used to be my dad's. seeming to vibrate throughout the entire room. hello. dinner's probably ready. then. "Come on. but he never plays it anymore because of the arthritis in his fingers. if I wasn't at the Academy. "Hi.Sakura was looking around as well. and Sasuke was unsure whether he was meant to hear it. gently." "Actually. Sakura stared at her fingers lingering on the keys for a moment before she smiled brilliantly at Sasuke." Apparently he was her source of wit as well. which seemed to be bursting with every type of flower imaginable." Sakura rolled her eyes and took a seat while motioning for Sasuke to sit across from her. Sakura. I'm not sure if I still can anymore. melancholy tune—vaguely nostalgic to Sasuke. "Ah. She took his hand. smoothing out her skirt. briefly. and the last not hung in the air. I've been looking for the right time to tell you. Sasuke's ears had not deceived him when they'd been outside the house." the man said distantly. for a couple of years. I used to come here whenever I was upset." she murmured softly. "I actually taught myself how to play. "Try. all alone. replaced by a huge window overlooking the garden. a small stream wound throughout the garden." Sasuke allowed her to pull him into a large room occupied only by a grand piano. gazing out the window at the sun setting on the horizon. Sakura exhaled slowly and began to play. I'm not. Dad. but after a moment she walked slowly towards the piano and sat down at the stool." she told him quietly as she played with her bracelet.

"Well. you learned how to see through objects at the ninja academy as well." Her mother sniffed. I feel the words forming on my lips. "I despise her—and I'm using the true meaning of the word. but intelligent green eyes regarded Sasuke thoughtfully. I open my mouth. so your obviouslyrehearsed comment isn't quite appropriate at the moment--unless. "Dad. but it never gets through to her. His face was pale and lined. did I hear you on the piano earlier?" Sakura blinked and ducked her head. her voice regretful and apologetic. Sakura." she told him earnestly. hideously lengthy. he has—I was surprised. clearly expecting him to chime in. and Sasuke gathered that she got along better with her father than her mother. Sasuke-kun. "Oh. less irritated that he thought he should be." The evening went downhill after that. He had decided it would be better to let her rant for as long as she need. "It's nice to meet you. "I'm really sorry you had to go through that. . Sasuke-kun.Sakura sneered at him good-naturedly. Honestly. Is that the case?" Sakura opened her mouth to throw back a doubtlessly sharp retort when her father intervened. "Thank you. Mom. ending with: "And she just doesn't listen to me!" she exclaimed. and occasionally side-tracked list of all her mother's faults. lest she turn her anger towards him. both to dislike and look upon with contempt!" Sasuke trailed after her calmly." Sakura complimented. I assume you've been house-trained?" Sakura nodded seriously." "It looks great. show him the one where you do that really scary glare and you look like you're contemplating either murder or brutal maiming. along with learning to kill people." Sasuke simply gave her a look. Sakura proceeded to go into a very detailed. "That piano has been sitting there for at least a year. Sakura grinned at him. "I mean." she said briskly. she's incorrigible!" She looked at him. I can tell it's moving. "I hate her!" Sakura raved as she stormed away from her parents' house. Sakura's mother entered the room holding a large platter of covered food. I always told Sakura she needed a guard dog since she started living alone. "I believe we can begin to eat. this is Sasuke-kun. Sasuke made a noise in the back of his throat that he hoped would be taken as agreement. He couldn't tell whether that's what she took it to be or not when she sighed and faced him. And he knows a bunch of cool tricks. Sasuke. yeah. but the food is still covered." Her father glanced up briefly. Haruno Shigure. "Yeah. gathering dust with the rest of your potential. "Sakura. this is my father. Her mother smiled thinly.

"I don't care. Yeah. I'll do better next time--I think. come on. true to his stubbornly contrary nature. I don't think I've mentioned it before.. Sasu-chan. so there will be no mentions of drinking it in this fic. guys. Sasuke-kun. So is Sakura's relationshilp with her parents. I don't really get it either." She continued to look at him mournfully. And yes. ALCOHOL IS BAD. but then he had to go on a mission like. By the way. "Whatever. really. Thank you for wonderful reviews--I got some pretty lengthy ones.I don't really like this chapter.. I am making this author's note ridiculously long to make the chapter seem longer. That night while he was drifting to sleep. And I'm sorry about the suckishness of this chapter." Sakura gave him a look laced with doubt before turning around and beginning to walk again.." she mused out loud. Naruto found Sasuke after he killed Itachi and brought him back to the village. I've already started the next chapter. aside from Tsunade. Ah well. he hoped) and thrown to the floor.He shrugged. I haven't explained this very well in the actual story and therefore have to resort to the cheater's method of clearing things up in author's notes. be very impressed. "Sasuke-kun." he insisted. Just because you're old enough to drink it doesn't mean you should. I don't really love what I've written so far of it. Not sure about any Naruto ones. go away— . turned away from the voice on his left to face his wall as he pulled the blankets over his head— Which were promptly torn out of his grasp (not literally torn." Sasuke growled and held a pillow over his head. What was your first clue? verything Is Alright "Hey. Erm. In case you were confused (you probably were. which made me happy. "It must be nice to not care about anything. you hear? There's a pretty cool Ouran AMV to it that you can look up on youtube if you like Ouran. how pathetic). and Sasuke felt a pang of what might have been regret or guilt or maybe just a bit of sadness. "It's fine. The piano is important. though. wake up. right after that. I am totally opposed to alcohol. go away.. . so it's really abrupt and stupid and filler-y. Listen to it. but the title is inspired by the song "Everything Is Alright" by Motion City Soundtrack. Go away. I kind of ran out of inspiration somewhere in the middle." Sasuke. he realized why the song Sakura played had sounded familiar: his mother had used to hum it as a lullaby. Wakey wakey. which is rare--be impressed. for obvious reasons.

Of course. gradually becoming conscious." Sasuke said pointedly. His normally-quick reflexes were dulled by sleep. The object of his attention was looking at him as well. Sakura had definitely improved. From what he had gathered." And then she was gone. please. It had not changed at all. "Wanna spar?" she offered. no. back to when they were children. She was still young. he decided. "Okay. but Sakura was small and quick and she seemed to use the least amount of energy possible to narrowly avoid his . and there was no point just lying in bed. Sasuke made a noise that could have been taken for either skepticism or irritation—in actuality. he voice muffled by the sleeping apparatus covering his head. "I finished all my paperwork." "Can't imagine that feeling. it was both. her voice ominously serious. Of course. But." She grinned at him. scowling. Sasuke was fast. leaving Sasuke with the uneasy feeling of traveling back in time."Sasuke-kun. and mature. which seemed to be a habit of hers. but she was…she was independent now. personable. from when she was a Genin. I swear I will drag you to the training grounds myself. Sasuke thought. but I couldn't sleep." "Why?" "I can't sleep. someone respected and admired. her hair was still unusual and her eyes were still bright. confidence and charm." she agreed easily. he would never tell her any of this. Sasuke thought. and overflowing with vitality." he told her. she was not the irascible. but the improvement was drastic. obsequious child he had known anymore. In fifteen minutes they reached the place where they had trained as Genin." she cautioned. "Training grounds?" he asked grumpily. Sasuke hesitated before nodding cautiously. looking at Sakura. A thin arm looped around his waist and literally dragged him out of the bed. She shrugged and gestured vaguely. "So why the hell are we going to the training grounds?" Sasuke grumbled. He glared at her. If you do not get up this instant. It was 2 AM and they were walking the deserted streets of Konoha to the training area. So…" she shrugged again. "Yeah. "I'll meet you outside in five minutes. but he still managed to land on his feet. that wasn't saying a whole lot. "Just taijutsu. she was a virago in Konoha. He had to grudgingly admit that he could understand why: she was accomplished. "Fuck you.

She took it in stride. so they were both ready to leave an hour later." "Jeez. I get it. as Sasuke was careful from then on to avoid her hands and feet. what time is it. She digested the information. standing as tall as she could to intentionally muss his naturally unruly hair.blows. Her damp hair was down. which amused her to no end. Because Sakura's face was pressed to the ground. more amused than annoyed. He was the epitome of boring. forest green dress.) Sasuke was wearing black pants and a navy blue shirt. "Have an actual opinion once in a while. "You are so prissy. You win. which seemed to suit him just fine. This was unsurprising. shinobi-style. the king of hypocrisy. but it hurt like hell. "I do believe that was an opinion! Wow." Sasuke informed her as they opted to take to the trees. and gray. It appeared she was more defensive than offensive. Gerroff. regardless. but Sasuke was fast enough to strike her a few times. Sakura gasped in mock surprise. Anyway. I am a positive influence on you—I'm so proud of myself! I will now officially award myself a metaphorical gold star." "You're opinionated enough to compensate for my apparent lack of opinions. as their method of getting home. "Okay. "Around six. "That's not very nice. Both of their rooms were equipped with respective bathrooms." Sasuke smirked at her. (Sakura was actually ready ten minutes before he was ready. Sakura pushed herself up into a sitting position and sneered half-heartedly at him. we'd have time to stop at a café Hinata told me about before I have to go to work." she had teased. Sasuke-kun. Would you like one too?" she asked politely as she mimed offering him a sticker. Sasuke had heard that she enhanced her blows with chakra. If we go back now and shower quickly." he informed her. Her slender arms belied her extraordinary strength. . that was the only time. "Behold. Sasuke rolled his eyes and declined her offer not quite as politely. as his wardrobe consisted entirely of blue. but Sasuke noticed she kept a black elastic hair tie around her wrist almost constantly. they're free. her voice was muted and muffled. it only nicked his shoulder. lissome as she was. for he was wary or resting too much of his weight on her small body. do you think?" Sasuke made a few quick calculations." He released her. Soon they were back at the Uchiha Manor. black. "Alright. She managed to punch him once. She was very good at dodging. Eventually he pinned her to the ground and gripped her wrists in one large pale hand while he used the other to keep her on the ground." Sakura sighed. you fat jerk. Is that alright with you?" "Whatever. not crying out and ending the match as Sasuke had expected her to. Sakura had slipped into dark gray leggings and a loose. Still.

Her navy blue messenger bag was slung casually over her shoulder. Someone needs to heal them." Sasuke frowned.even when her hair was already being held up with another one. thrown by his willingness to actually instigate a conversation. Sakura asked Sasuke in concern. Kakashi-sensei got reinstated with ANBU. "Why is your fighting style centered so strongly on defense?" Sakura blinked at him. "When did you become Tsunade's apprentice?" She eyed him quizzically before answering. "Okay. Sakura asked for two blueberry muffins and green tea. He had always assumed that they would have each other. "My eighteenth birthday—the day I could legally live by myself. but didn't comment. Sasuke-kun. The café was small and comparatively new. more so than usual. leaving Sakura alone. not seeming uncomfortable with the subject of his betrayal. "I guess…I guess I just needed to do something worthwhile. "Come on." Sasuke shrugged and asked her something that had been bothering him. he had gotten a good clue last night how she felt about her mother. while Sasuke ordered an omelet and coffee. "I feel fine." she told him. but it was already around three-fourths full. "Not long after you left. "Are you feeling okay? You look pale…at least. which he was grateful for. She assessed his attire critically when he appeared. you know? Team Seven was disbanded. A waitress ushered them to a table in a secluded corner and promptly took their orders. even considering the early hour." she said instead as she headed out. yeah? There's a nasty bug going around. Apparently not. When the waitress left. "Why?" She was thoughtful for a minute." Sasuke had actually felt a bit ill during their sparring session. "What rank are you?" ." Sasuke nodded. just tell me if you do feel sick. Sasuke followed her and mused on just where exactly his dignity had gone." Sakura accepted his curt statement with a nod. but he denied it. and Naruto left with Jiraiya-sama. "When did you move out of you parents' house?" She smiled slightly. He hadn't known that Naruto had left with Jiraiya. "On a mission it would be my duty to stay back and defend myself while my comrades handled the main part of the fighting. accepting her answer as logical. It's not like I was going to get anywhere training by myself." He didn't ask why.

"You're burning up. but Sasuke grabbed it before she could. Um…" Her eyes flickered in indecision before she sighed again and started grabbing items papers and folders off her desk and cramming them into her bag. he couldn't even rememberthe last time he had been sick… "That'll teach you not to make sarcastic comments. Maybe he really was sick… Which was stupid. "Thanks. and had to take raspy. Foggy. It's so—" She stopped abruptly when she caught sight of him. "Jeez. "Alright. however… He head felt funny. "I've got it." she greeted dejectedly. disconcertingly weary. Her eyebrows rose minutely before she sighed. "Hey. She stared at him. He was having trouble breathing through his nose. About half an hour later. aren't you?" Sasuke intoned thickly. "You're sick. "I'll have to take off early and get you to bed. She had satisfied his questions for now at least. The truth was that having nothing to do all day gave you not much else to do but think about things." When they arrived at the hospital."I'm a Jounin. running her hand through her hair in irritation and exasperation. Sakura soon began her rounds after depositing Sasuke off in her office. as their food had just arrived. Sasuke. It was improbable that his spar with Sakura left him this devoid of energy. He was an Uchiha—Uchiha Sasuke." Sakura told him smugly as she knelt by the couch and brushed his bangs out of his eyes so she could feel his forehead. He did not do anything as menial as getting sick. God. not looking at him as she pored over a paper. He was sick." "Quick on the uptake. ." she murmured distantly. After a moment she removed her hand and pursed her lips. Sasuke was skilled at the art of self-denial." she complied. Sakura reached for the check when it was delivered. put on guard by his uncharacteristic curiosity. Sasuke didn't answer. They ate in silence after that. everyone's been getting sick all of a sudden." he muttered. confused. which instigated a relatively violent coughing fit. Where was Sakura? Her rounds were taking uncommonly long… It was then that Sakura stepped through the door. reclined on the couch. Sasuke's curiosity was sated and Sakura seemed content with quiet. and he had realized that he really didn't know much about Sakura. but he wasn't stupid. Sakura agreed easily enough. Crap. What's up with all these questions?" she queried suspiciously. The notion vaguely irritated him. harsh breaths through his mouth. Sasuke-kun.

. more so than he already was.. at least.. I like my couch and I don't want your germs all over it. "You're sick. that's right. She cautiously slid her hand into his larger one.. (cringe) See. then. gripped it lightly. Sasuke knew immediately that he had offended her. though: how. "Let's go. I was in a state of nostlgia because GG has been canceled/ended whatever.. his eyes resting in a steadfast manner on their linked hands. and maybe…hurt? Her expression quickly glazed over into neutral. "Well?" Sasuke stuffed one of his hands in his pocket but left the other hanging limply by his side. but she was an intelligent girl. fell stiffly to her side." She frowned in concern. Um. but I don't necessarily dislike it. She shrugged. When he didn't follow her out the door she came back in.Sasuke looked at the clock on her desk. most--keyword being most--of this story is going to form entirely in the deep recesses of my mind (yes. her voice was cool and indifferent. Definetely not my favorite. His head hurt like hell." she said. and no.. I got a bunch of comments on the parallels in the last chapter with Gilmore girls. About that. you're not that sick.um. irritated and impatient. thanksabunch. Don't worry. his brow furrowed. Sasuke and all his emotional baggage--(read as: emotional crap). I'm taking you back.. and comparatively quickly grasped what he couldn't put into words. however. "Don't touch me. You're sick and you're infecting my couch. The room spun for a moment and Sasuke lurched unsteadily.. Sasuke followed her obligingly out of the hospital. Therefore. It was just a bit past noon. It was a clear invitation—in Sasuke's mind." Sasuke informed her dryly. There will also be SasuSaku bonding-ish kinda. Sakura looked startled. the throbbing pain in his head making him edgy and ill-tempered--at least. Anyway. and when he didn't resist. "Get up.)." She opened the door and glanced expectantly at him." he spat. and her hand.ha. which had been raised." he said. so I vented a bit there in an attempt to appease myself. Sakura tried to lay a hand on his shoulder but he jerked away from her violently. and got to his feet gradually. Sakura continued to frown at him for a good minute. "Are you? I don't want to have to drag you back…" "Your concern is touching. "You'd be leaving at least seven hours early. Sasuke-kun. however. not in a dirty way..just a heads up. but the next chapter is most likely going to contain some angst and stuff--you know. I can SO see Sasuke wearing a backwards baseball cap and a flannel shirt and working in the diner. She walked out. but didn't know how to rectify the situation. Unsure about this one. He wasn't one to go handing out apologies easily.. and Sakura will not turn into Lorelai (AS FRICKING AWESOME AS THAT WOULD BE--haha. be afraid).graphic do you guys want this? I will inform you now that there will be no . Huh.

she was okay— "Sasuke-kun. she had been very careful to avoid physical contact. He saw himself. soft and clear and lilting. Sasuke had a suspicion that she was still upset by what he had said at the hospital. He dreamt of Itachi and Orochimaru and Kabuto and his father and his mother and blood and shadows and tears and screams and redredred eyes. your opinions may or may not influence me." Sakura's voice. "Tell me if you need anything else.. Sasuke could just hear her soft footsteps in the hallway as she stepped lightly to her room. and nothing even really close. and when it couldn't be avoided.huzzah? Everything Is Alright Sakura didn't hover as Sasuke had expected her to. she made short work of placing on his bedside table everything she thought he might need: water. ramming his Chidori through Itachi's stomach. Other than that. making his stomach lurch and the tightness in his chest ease up. He saw Orochimaru leaning over him. she was alive. She led him to his bed and ordered him to swallow two small pills she handed him." she bade him before leaving him alone.. this is more about their psychological relationship. a long time ago. Sakura used both of her hands to gently disentangle his larger hand from her hair and brought it down to her lap. "Sasuke-kun…I heard you moving around from my . and what looked to be a very painful hold on Sakura's hair. and ended up with a fistful of her silky hair. (mommommom--) She was here. it depends on my moody--I am a very moody person. After Sasuke complied. As I said in an earlier chapter. He saw her smile at him. dissipated his fitful dreams. He woke instantly to find himself sitting up in his bed with a very tight. He saw his parents lying lifeless on the floor. tissues. He saw Itachi's eyes go glassy. He saw his brother pluck out his eyes (but it didn't happen it didn't happen it didn't happen--). Sasuke shifted constantly for a good hour before he fell into a tense. like everything. so they will not be randomly kissing the crap out of each other in every chapter (move on with your life). uneasy sleep. it was always brisk and impersonal. desperate grab at her. and saw him collapse. Uh. Sasuke made a wild. Restless and uncomfortable. Crushing disappointment and an almost giddy sense of relief at the sight of her swept through him all at once. It made him feel…alienated. He saw the reptilian man morph into Sasuke's mother. It was almost ironic that he was feeling so disconcerted because she was doing precisely what he told her to do. as he had once before. where she held it lightly. He saw his parents dying and Orochimaru laughing and Itachi poking his forehead and Kabuto sneering. And. From the moment she had released his hand when they returned back. saw his lips upturn.sex scenes. You have been warned. he saw her hair spill over her shoulder. He saw generations of Uchiha stealing the eyes of their brothers (but it did happen it did happen it did happen--). and cough drops. covered in blood and palepalepale.

Her habit of skipping meals in order to get work done irritated him to no end. Whenever she put her hair up it was sloppy. Sakura was noticeably different. one end of her mouth was quirked up farther than the other. the way she would work herself past the point of exhaustion. because a good deal of the time he would find her slumped over her desk. Hinata would point out the circles under her eyes. When she would help out at the Yamanaka Flower Shop. Sasuke hoped he would too. he thought—maybe. Sasuke-kun. for her sake if nothing else." She let go of his hand and stood up from where she had knelt by his bed. Someday. maybe. attentive way of caring for him never faltered. he would tell her flatly that she was overworking herself. When she went to the Hyuuga Compound." She smiled. When she played shougi with Shikamaru. He would then proceed to gather her in his arms and lay her in her bed. Sasuke decided. She bit her lip. a softer.room. -Sakura's eyes. he could be—okay. clear and expressive and concerned. He shrugged and watched her slim fingers skim over his hand. become accustomed to checking Sakura's room before he went to sleep.) He also realized that he wasn't the only one who noticed. (Sakura slept very deeply. and ease of move. "Do you want to talk about it?" she asked hesitantly. would display other shades of green. Occasionally they would flicker. her eyes were green—the simple. clear truth gave him an odd sense of calmness. almost like holograms. and. The way she would frequently fall asleep at her desk. and Sakura's quiet. Sasuke found he could sleep just a bit easier. Sasuke couldn't see it. A question he knew the definite answer to. practicality." she said warmly. nononononever—but when he looked at her eyes. as if she were reluctant. average green he had thought they were. They were more washed out. "Are you okay?" No. "Just…if…" Sakura closed her eyes and took a deep breath before looking at him again. You were…" she looked away and started tracing patterns on his palm distractedly. For example. actually. The way she would try to hide aforementioned exhaustion. When she taught at the Academy. Sasuke thought. in the past three weeks. Sasuke would often find himself preoccupied in the maternal way she checked his temperature and the pleased look she would wear when his temperature went down. knowing she was taking care of him. Maybe someday. The excess of material only served to emphasize how thin she was—a bit too thin. A lot of her work-related habits irritated him. Still. "No. Over the next few days Sasuke gradually got better. sleeping deeply. Iruka would comment on how pale she was. Someday. Ino would jokingly tell her how horrible she looked and you need to get more . not once had she woken up while he did this. Today she was wearing baggy black pants and a loose maroon shirt. "Yes. Sasuke had. "I hope you feel better. She rarely wore jewelry and if she wore makeup. When he compared her to the other young women they passed on the street. Her clothes were obviously chosen for comfort. as if she couldn't take the time to smooth it. and sometimes gray. I thought so. he wanted to say. tickling slightly. sincerely. more faded green. were not the plain.

beauty sleep, you know? Naruto would flat-out tell her she looked like crap (and would be rewarded by a solid punch to the face). It appeased the young Uchiha slightly to know that he wasn't the only one fighting the seemingly downhill battle to keep Sakura healthy. It also sparked a bit of curiosity for him to realize just how many people cared about her. One person's care for her, however, Sasuke did not appreciate. This person was Hyuuga Neji, the person who had taken to coming to talk to Sakura almost every day. He would lean against the wall by her desk in her office and coolly ignore Sasuke, his attention focused on the young medic at the desk. At the beginning Sakura would try to draw Sasuke into the conversations as well, aware of how rude it was to exclude him. However, Sasuke obstinately refused to speak to Neji more than absolutely necessary, and the pale-eyed boy didn't exactly have any burning desire to talk to him either. So Neji and Sakura would talk and Sasuke would brood. Sasuke noticed that Neji always approached her with the pretense of having a question to ask her. Sasuke thought it was pathetic and obvious, but if Sakura noticed as well, she never gave any indication. After Neji left that day, Sasuke stopped brooding about him and resumed brooding about how thin Sakura was. Her tendency to neglect her own health (while nurturing everyone else's, including Sasuke's own) was going to be the death of her. And, inevitably, Sasuke mused, he would be blamed. Something along the lines of how he was living with her and should have taken better care of her would be thrown at him, and then he could quite possibly end up in the Konoha Prison, which is where he would have been, had not the situation with Sakura been arranged. His mind made up, Sasuke got to his feet and ambled to the door. Sakura looked up from where she had been poring over a large book when she heard the door open and frowned questionably at him. "I won't leave the building," he reassured her. She deliberated, but when she glanced back at him, her eyes shone with trust. A feeling bubbled somewhere in Sasuke's chest, but he ignored it pointedly. "Okay, Sasuke-kun. But remember: don't talk to strangers." Sasuke rolled his eyes. "You're an idiot," he informed her dryly, but one might have heard and undertone of fondness in his voice had one listened closely. Sakura laughed and waved him out the door, already turning back to her book. -When Sasuke returned fifteen minutes later, he shoved a pack of crackers and an apple at her. Sakura eyed him. "Uh, Sasuke-kun…" "You didn't eat breakfast this morning," he said mildly. She flushed, and he smirked. Only Sasuke's threat of another cold water-wakeup could get her out of bed that morning, but she was still sluggish and had to rush out the door in order to be on time.

Sakura was about to retort when her eyes widened. She stared at him, gaping, and Sasuke shifted in annoyance. "What?" Sakura stood up and reached as high as she could to place her hand on top of his head. Running her fingers through his hair probingly, she frowned in distress. Lowering her hand, she took a breath. Sasuke's patience grew thin. "What, Sakura?" "Sasuke-kun…I…I don't know how to tell you this, but…" she looked away. A moment later: "Your hairline is receding." A long, pregnant paused. "…What?" Sasuke asked blankly. Sakura dissolved into manic laughter and had to clutch the front of Sasuke's shirt to keep herself upright. "You…should…have seen…your…face!" she gasped, choking on her own laughter. Sasuke was, admittedly, less amused. He scowled at her but allowed her to continue to cling to his shirt. "You are the stupidest, most flippantly frivolous, ridiculous person I have ever met," he said frankly. Sakura collected herself and relinquished his shirt. "That's a term of endearment, right?" she asked cheekily. "Shut up, Sakura. Just shut up and eat your food." "Oh, Sasuke-kun, you do care!" "Eat it, Sakura. I'm warning you." "Sasuke-kun, Sasuke-kun, you really should—MMPH." "Serves you right." "…You're dead, Uchiha. You are twice as dead as you were before. In fact, you are so dead that you were dead three million years ago, so not only are you dead but you are old and wrinkly. So there." "Your logic fails me." "As do terms of endearment." "Hn."

Sorry this is so short. This is kind of a filler while I sort out and untangle my (haphazard, disorganized) ideas for upcoming chapters. Anyway, Sakura is getting more maternal and Sasuke is starting to notice, which is kind of the point of this story. Y'know. I have a question: do Japanese people have middle names? (stupid question, I know. Shut up, you) I want to thank all of you for the wonderful reviews. If any of you ever have questions you actually want me to respond to, just say so in your review. If not, I most likely won't reply because I'm lazy like that, but I appreciate every single one of your reviews because you guys FRIGGING ROCK. Specifically, I'd like to thank Akamai for responding to my question about how graphic this is going to be (wow, someone actually reads my author's notes). My heart goes out to you. Really. It does. If you find a heart hovering outside your window, do not be alarmed. However, I might like it back eventually. A bit hard to live without a heart, you know. It pumps blood and whatnot. Also, shkh4ever said that I am "one hell of a writer". Um, uh, haha, HELL YEAH. FLATTERY DOES GET YOU EVERYWHERE. I AM SHAMELESS. BEWARE. Thanks a bunch, everyone! (Beware.) Everything Is Alright What urged him to check up on two of his students, Kakashi did not know. It was a spur of the moment thing, an impulse that he didn't give much thought to before he found himself entering his only female student's office, nonchalant and casual as usual. Sasuke, reclining on the sofa, must have noticed his presence before he even came in, and didn't as much as bother to turn from where he had been fiddling with a kunai. Sakura, however, took a few moments to look up, absorbed in a form she was filling out. "Kakashi-sensei," she intoned, surprised. "This is a surprise." "Ah, hello, Sakura," Kakashi greeted cheerfully before he turned to the pale young man on the couch. "Sasuke." "Kakashi," Sasuke said levelly. "Still as monotonous as ever, then?" Kakashi observed. "Sasuke-kun is the Master of the Monotone," Sakura agreed. "Sensei, did you need something?" Kakashi feigned hurt. "What, I need a reason to drop in on my former students?" "No," Sakura allowed, and narrowed her eyes. "But knowing you, you must likely have an ulterior motive." "Your suspicion is wounding," Kakashi informed her somberly, fighting a small smile. Sakura always had been clever and perceptive. "Actually, I wanted to take you both out to lunch. Bonding and whatnot."

yeah. "…That's a yes. Well. "Hn. "You always are. He would occasionally smirk or frown at certain points when she spoke." Sasuke remarked. Kakashi sat on one side and Sakura and Sasuke faced him. Also. as ever. but reached for her messenger-bag anyway." Sakura admitted. -Kakashi took them to a small restaurant near the outskirts of town." Kakashi ordered. and being so comfortable with Sakura in such close proximity was surprising." Sakura said as she looked around curiously. grab that bag you're always carrying around. posters. predictably. his behavior towards Sakura had changed dramatically. Kakashi-sensei. this would have been nothing big had it been anyone else. not much had changed. Truth be told. now. He was taller and more muscular. then? Good. "I am kind of hungry. already confident of his victory. at least not physically. "I'm bored. Also. don't you think?" Kakashi wheedled. Kakashi did actually have an ulterior motive of sorts for taking them to lunch. "bonding. when Sakura was filling Kakashi in on her goings-on since he had seen her last. but it was quite rare for Sasuke in his younger days to really listen to Sakura when . "I've never been here before. "Kakashi-sensei."…Bonding?" Sakura repeated. save for a few customers and a couple of waitresses milling about." Kakashi pointed out easily. but Sasuke had always been big on personal space." Sakura instructed." Kakashi said brightly. His behavior wasn't quite as familiar. curt. It was mostly deserted. To be specific. He was still quiet. and his features were a little finer. and mounted. Kakashi just hadn't seen Sasuke since the boy was a Genin. For most people this wasn't a big deal. "Well. and taciturn. Again. Sasuke was determinedly apathetic. now you can say you have. leading them to a secluded booth in the corner. his hair a bit longer. I'm busy. the two had walked beside each other. lead the way." Sakura protested. "I guess. he had been curious as to how they were getting along. Other than that he looked exactly the same. When they walked to the restaurant. Adorning the walls was a staggering array of paintings. yes. but with some degree of attentiveness. "Yes. about a foot of space between them. skeptical." "Alright. How about it. Sakura had been staying at the Uchiha manor with Sasuke for roughly a month. Sakura. Sasuke seemed to listen—not raptly. Is it okay with you. Sasuke-kun?" He shrugged and rose to his feet fluidly. vintage knick-knacks. Sasuke?" he inquired of the silent boy. Looking at Sasuke now. I'm sure your busyness can wait a bit. come on then.

about a minute alter. "I was contemplating pouring water on you. Kakashi was aware that his own and Sasuke's minds were similar in some aspects. A waitress approached them. Sensei. "You are such a girl. were often the most dangerous of all. but he wasn't sure what to make of it. I'm glad you didn't. and even Sasuke would have to find something to entertain him eventually. However. and full of subtle." he remarked in an offhand manner. "Your one-track mind is disgusting. "She's got a nice ass. as Kakashi watched them from across the table. Sakura groaned. dispassionately." she scorned. This. Sakura ordered the special of the day." "Well. for Sasuke. "…shi-sensei?" Kakashi snapped back into focus. "Please. observe." she implored. This gave Kakashi a good deal of information. it would have messed up my hair. Kakashi had found." "You're still too young to understand. and that dissecting and analyzing a person like Sakura would hold a challenge for Sasuke. and waitress bustled away. "May I take your order?" she asked. Sasuke was even more self-absorbed than Kakashi himself. and after a beat: "What she's having. what would happen when Sasuke decided he was through with her—that she no longer held any amount of interest for him? Bored people. "What?" "You've been staring blankly into space for at least five minutes. Even now. Almost like a stutter. From these two observations Kakashi gleaned that Sasuke had become comfortable with her. Again! The third time. "Even Naruto is more mature than you are at times. Sakura rolled her eyes. Sasuke held Sakura as an object of interest? Someone to watch. for that matter. Kakashi watched her go. stop making comments like that. It was reasonable that he would choose Sakura— she was a constant companion. Sasuke was surveying his surroundings clinically." . and that he held her with some regard and respect. "Kids these days. I'm tellin' ya…" Sakura scoffed. study? Having to remain with Sakura day in and day out must get boring." Sakura informed him. something to amuse himself with." Sasuke said quietly. But Kakashi saw Sasuke's black eyes flicker to Sakura once—and again. barely perceptible quirks." Kakashi sighed. addressing the group at large. He would have to keep a close eye on the situation.she spoke and it didn't directly involve him—or listen to anyone. the change between this Sasuke and the thirteen-year-old Sasuke was evident." Kakashi informed her in a confidential whisper. was indeed remarkable. Kakashi ordered as well.

casual question." He beamed at her and turned to her companion." Sasuke didn't exactly return the sentiment. though. didn't beg. in turn. Sasuke had become aware of Sakura's compassion and her distress over other people's pain. He knew she wouldn't prod him for more. He gave no indication of halting. Lee-san. more willing to disclose personal information with her." Kakashi allowed. "Hello. Sasuke-kun! It is nice to see you again. "Sasuke-kun. Lee hurtled to a stop right in front of her. When she asked an innocent. he would answer freely." "Hn. and others he didn't want to burden her with. She understood that his privacy was important to him and didn't push him to say anything he didn't want to." Sakura didn't have anything to say to that. so he hadn't told her anything. as she was so clearly in the green spandex-clad boy's way. if he didn't see any harm in it. What's up?" "Nothing. and knew she was already losing enough sleep as it was. . -They parted ways after the meal. "If you say so. Sasuke was unsure of how much he would tell her. didn't pout. she didn't know anything the Godaime would care about. If she did ask. The kid did wear an orange jumpsuit. She accepted it and moved on. Sakura-san!" he greeted exuberantly. "you've been quiet. "but there's no way he can match my awesome sense of style. so Sasuke prepared himself to pull Sakura out of the way. "Where are you off to?" Lee asked Sakura. She shrugged."That may be true. wherever it is Kakashi spent his time. and Kakashi off to…well. Sasuke was. Sasuke and Sakura heading back to the hospital. She hadn't asked him anything about what happened during his absence. "Sakura-san!" The pair turned to find Lee sprinting towards them at a breakneck speed. Just in time. Sakura couldn't help but smile." Sasuke replied simply." One thing Sasuke had come to appreciate about Sakura over the past month was her unwillingness to poke and pry in his life. When he didn't want to talk about something. she didn't whine." Sakura began. and he trusted her not to go reporting everything she knew to the Hokage. Of course. "Hi. Sasuke did get the sense at times that she was curious but was refraining from asking. Some parts he was still figuring out himself. "Hello.

I swear. "You two were on a…date?" Sakura shook her head. Kakashi-sensei actually dropped by my office and offered to take us to lunch. Sorry the chapter's so short. Sorry about the wait--my muse died. I SAY. which he was currently firing at her. Sakura-san. chakra control and basic medical procedures. Goodbye. Lee blinked confused. Her father has started beating him off with a broom." "Oh."Work. indeed. Okaygottagoseeyabye! Everything Is Alright The next day found Sasuke and Sakura in the latter's office. I have to go. "Lee-san has become infatuated with her." Lee furrowed his brows in confusion. I REFUSE TO BELIEVE MADARA'S LIES. "No. "Well." she laughed." she answered wearily. regarding her with an earnest and steadfast expression. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews--I read them all. Sakura was bent over her desk. SPOILER: I REJECT THE LATEST MANGA CHAPTER. "Are you in ANBU?" . you've heard of it. Sasuke-kun!" And with that he sped off. Can anyone come up with a better summary for this? It's very sad that my own summary bores me. writing a report on a patient's health. Very sad. I just assumed you had the day off. "Work?" "Ah. I believe Ayame-san's shift is ending now. REJECT IT. UGH. He sat on the edge of the sofa. Kinda rushed now." Sakura explained. since you are walking around. ITACHI IS EVIL. "No. his hands clasped before him." "Ah. Hullo there. "What do you teach at the Academy?" was his first question. Sasuke turned to her. Sasuke smirked at the mental images that sprang to mind. "we were just getting lunch." He shook his head. so my author's note is unusually short. "Genjutsu." Sakura waved her hand. "Ayame?" "The ramen stand owner's daughter." he intoned in understanding. Over the past week or so Sasuke had been formulating questions he was curious about." she answered readily.

Sakura shook her head absently. and you've got the sharp teeth-thing going on. "Yes. instead turning back to face her desk. he opined. they can fly and wear capes—kind of like superheroes. Sasuke nodded. Sasuke glared at her. Sakura frowned at him. a vampire." Sasuke drawled wryly. Shishou thinks I'm too valuable to risk on ANBU missions. "Are you still the Hokage's apprentice?" "No." Foreseeing his follow-up question. as if displeased by the Godaime's opinion. He didn't want to make her so angry that she would refuse to answer the inquiries he still wanted to pose. there is that little exception. "You think ANBU is too dangerous for me?" Sasuke tried to gauge her mood before answering." She looked at him in amusement. "Well…when I was little. "I can believe that." she replied honestly." Sakura answered mildly. She's still my superior in rank. Sasuke waited a moment before asking. her pen still moving across the paper. obviously seeing through his cover-up. Deciding to risk honesty. "Sure you don't." Sakura slanted a skeptical glance at him. but he had found that she could appear the most docile right before her temper exploded—the calm before the storm." she mused. I kind of wanted to be a vampire." Sasuke said as well." . "I do not have sharp teeth." She frowned slightly. because she has a vast amount of experience over me. to appease her. They're cool. Sasuke asked instead. but she chose not to call him on it. "I'm not sure if I'll apply. Sakura seemed a bit embarrassed. You're already pale enough. "A vampire?" Sakura glared at him in mock-anger. "No. I think there are some ANBU missions that are too dangerous for you. something that had intrigued him for a while now. "Yes." Resisting the odd impulse to stick his tongue out at her. however. "Being a shinobi was the closest thing I could find. she added. "Tsunade-sama deemed that she had nothing else to teach me about a year ago. "You're too valuable and skilled a medicnin to have your safety in jeopardy. indignant. "What's your favorite color?" Sakura shrugged. Sakura rolled her eyes." "Yes. except they suck people's blood. "You just wish you were a vampire." Sasuke smirked. She seemed perfectly calm. "Don't have one." "Why did you want to become a shinobi?" he asked." Sakura's eyes narrowed ominously.

and she had looked at him the same way—with guarded curiosity. visibly froze. "I like classical. I just kind of like the smell—of autumn. he felt he owed her something for the relentless. . he chose the safest piece of information he could. She grinned. astute and perceptive as he was. A moment later she set her pen down and turned to face him. I guess. Sakura shot a bemused look at him. "That's it for now. so spring sucks. quietly." It made sense. He didn't want to tell her anything. "So. He wanted to protect her from that information. and I'm allergic to pollen." he said slowly. "Is this going to turn into a personality quiz?" "Answer the question. amused by her last comment." "The smell of autumn?" Sasuke repeated. he decided. by process of elimination. like--…like apple cider and spices and falling leaves and pumpkin pies— which I actually dislike—and chilly breezes. "Alright. Still. "What chakra-type are you?" "I'm a primary water-type and a secondary earth-type. occasionally personal questioning he had aimed at her. hesitation and trepidation." Sasuke concluded. "Um…green. "Yeah…and I dunno. who had turned back to her desk. incredulous. "Why?" Sasuke probed. She sighed. Sakura was too…too delicate. Sasuke." she said frankly." Sasuke demanded stiffly. she did play the piano. Autumn. Sakura. wearing the most ecstatic and lovely smile Sasuke had seen her with. it's autumn. swiftly realized that she wanted to ask him about the period of time he had spent in Sound. winter is too cold. then. Sakura looked at him out of the corner of her eye. "There were bogs in Sound. He knew because he had thoughtlessly mentioned it in passing a couple of days ago." "Favorite season?" "Autumn. "Yeah. She nodded thoughtfully." she responded immediately."If you had to choose…?" Sasuke pressed." Sasuke summed up. After a good five minutes." he said finally. too fragile to learn about the various horrors and atrocities he had endured for roughly seven or eight years. "Summer is too hot." "Favorite type of music?" he inquired." Sasuke absorbed this information slowly. She laughed a bit.

"Sakura.She stood up and walked over to where he sat on the sofa and bent down to press a soft kiss to his cheek. Physically. not bothering to knock. "Thank you. and he was just the slightest bit worried. Sasuke's concern. however. Moving swiftly. She straightened slowly. "Sakura. though he was loathe to admit to it. and Sasuke was beginning to get irritated. leaning against one of the boxes. mostly filled with large boxes containing what Sasuke assumed to be medical equipment. he hadn't realized how late it was. slowed somewhat. her hair splayed to completely obscure her face." "Sasuke-kun. as she had kissed Naruto when he returned from his mission—but this time not in greeting. It was an easy matter as most of the staff had left for the night. After a while he realized that it wasn't the information that made her happy. he found the room she was in and entered immediately. Sasuke sat beside her. bewildered that such a trivial. Where was she? A shift in the emergency room shouldn't normally take this long. it was the fact that he offered it willingly." she murmured. then. for the medic he had been searching for was huddled on the floor." she hummed quietly. Sasuke opted to seek out her chakra. unmoving. say something. It appeared to be a storage room. After a quick moment of contemplation he decided to go look for her. in thanks. "Sakura. seeing as it was over such a small matter as Sakura not returning to her office. Sakura still had not returned. Sasuke-kun. and just as Sasuke was deliberating on asking again. what happened?" he asked carefully. she whispered. still smiling. meaningless piece of information could make her so happy. He didn't particularly care. She was okay. about a foot of space separating them. which had been rapidly escalating up to that point. Her arms were around her knees and her head was down. He located her softly pulsing green chakra in an otherwise empty room somewhere in the east wing. A long moment passed." . her lilting voice sounding strangely pleasant to him. Sasuke was by her side in an instant." He gripped her shoulder. "I lost a patient. -Several hours later. It was on that note she left—she had mentioned to Sasuke that she would be on call in the emergency room today—and he was suddenly by himself. Sakura was sitting on the floor. As opposed to randomly searching for her. He was allowed to venture by himself in the hospital. his concern increasing rapidly. at least.

She was a bit pale and pallid. but not Sasuke. her expression weary and vacant." he began hesitantly. to Sasuke's immense surprise. Sasuke drew Sakura closer to him instinctively. but Sasuke had absolutely no clue on how to help her." Sasuke told her sternly. After what must have been at least an hour. They were only mostly deserted. completely devoid of the spark that usually settled there. so that her side was pressed against his own. "Surely you've lost one before. "Yes it is! Because I…I was distracted--I kept…I kept thinking about how it could have been you or N-Naruto…and…and…" she trailed off. He sat quietly and kept her company. Her head remained bowed and her hair continued to veil her face." She didn't respond. He's—he's dead. let's go home. her voice rising to a hysterical level. chilly storage room all night. people. Sasuke assessed her critically. "his teammates carried him all the way back. Sasuke-kun!" Sakura asserted. apparently too tired to support herself. "He was twelve. . her face was clear of tear-streaks. Not cool. didn't pat her shoulder in that awkward way that people always did. Sakura." Sasuke was unsure of what to do. so he took her by the forearms lightly and tugged her to her feet. The difference between this Sakura and the younger one he had known as a child was phenomenal. Sasuke didn't contradict her. and he took a kunai to the lung. "This was the first person I let…die. She looked exhausted. "Sakura. She was clearly upset and distraught. Impulsively. DON'T DO IT. "Let's go. Comforting people wasn't exactly his forte. Sasuke's concern abated a bit more. Sasuke kept a loose grip on her elbow. it's not. She sagged against him. He guided her at the elbow out of the hospital and onto the mostly deserted streets. Sakura.So nothing had happened to her." she took a shuddering breath. her complexion almost sickly. Her eyes were dull and glassy. He—he was on his first C-class mission. Once her face was free of obstruction. Sakura. She didn't respond." he murmured. because a drunken young man was stumbling towards them.) The man seemed to notice Sakura. Sasuke brought a hand up to lift her chin and brush her hair out of her face. and. Sasuke said quietly. (Don't drink. realizing that nothing he said would make her feel better right now." Sakura's voice cracked. "it's—" "He was just a child. Sasuke-kun. That particular Dark Side is not cool. but I let him die!It's my entire fault…" "No. but Sasuke wasn't going to let her stay in this dark." "No. His. It's my fault. "Come on.

Sasuke helped Sakura to her room and even assisted her in removing her dark blue sandals. indicating that she had slept restlessly the night before. Hmm. Can anyone give me writing tips? I'm just really dissatisfied with my writing right now." Sasuke shrugged and examined her analytically after finishing the tomato.. I'm not. He spared one smug look at the heap of a man on the ground before proceeding to pull the young medic along. he decided--hoped. "You wanna—" he cut off with a strangled yell when he looked into Sasuke's furious and terrifying Sharingan eyes. Goodnight.I dislike this chapter more than some of the others because it had potential. "I think I will be. and left her to sort things out by herself.. "Yeah. Sleep and time by herself would make her feel better. and she laughed hollowly. I'm already half an hour late for work. WE GET TO WEAR FUNNY HATS.. The green-eyed girl didn't even seem to have been aware of the drunken man's presence. Thank you. BOO-RAH. Sasuke's red eyes faded immediately to black.for answering my question in chapter six. Y'know? Yeah. pretty girl. they arrived at the deserted Uchiha manor. but then it. Sakura's eyes slowly shifted to him. rubbing at her eyes in a displeased manner. you let me sleep in late. READ IT AND JOIN MY DARCY-CULT. Everything Is Alright Sasuke was sitting in the kitchen eating a tomato the next morning when Sakura walked in. She looked at him accusingly. "Okay. Um." "Yeah.) Thanks to CJ Lunacy and -. (I forgot this in the last chapter. I feel you. though he couldn't see them well because her bangs hung haphazardly in front of them. The girl fell backwards on the bed.." Her gaze softened when she looked at him.." the man slurred. I'm fine... The drunkard staggered backwards and collapsed in a heap.. Her eyes were a bit glassy. if there are any of you who haven't read Pride and Prejudice." Sasuke said quietly. Her lips were a raw pink. The shadows under her eyes were darker and much more prominent than they had been previously. though. Sasuke watched her solemnly. It became all eh-y. dude. "Sasuke-kun. READ IT. informing him that she had bitten them incessantly. After what seemed an achingly long time.. still retaining the good sense to be terrified. if it all." Sasuke gave her a look. Much appreciated. Sasuke-kun. By the way.am I a perfectionist? I'm never satisfied with the way I write. His sharp eyesight even enabled him to see . "Are you okay?" he asked in a muted tone."Hey.well. staring up at the white ceiling.

" Sakura tried only once to tug her arm free from his firm grip—it was like wearing a shackle on her bicep. "But I'll be late for my shift!" she protested indignantly." She turned to exit the kitchen. who was frozen with her pen in midair. sir! The man ignored her and turned to Sakura. I'm going to go get ready. Sasuke was becoming to realize that was a bad habit of hers whenever she was embarrassed or upset and didn't want anyone to know. "You already are. clearly startled and confused. most insignificant incident might be able to shatter her valiant attempt at self-control and poise. and grudgingly allowed him to steer her to a chair and set a plate of rice-balls and various breakfast foods on the table before her." she muttered exasperatedly. Sakura sighed wearily and ran a slender hand through her messy. "Eat all of it. Sasuke almost thought that he was proud of her. pink hair. but her path to her room was suddenly obstructed by Sasuke. He shook his head and literally turned her around. and even the smallest. ordering over his shoulder on his way out. middle-aged man stormed in. Sasuke sat on the sofa and watched her out of the corner of his eye. who handed the young medic a few papers. Sasuke watched as she clambered onto the chair—it amused him that she had to clamber (she was comparatively short and the chairs were rather tall)—and waited impatiently for her to begin eating before he left her to her meal. "Anyway. "You!" the man thundered. Sakura seemed emotionally fragile today. noticing the open stares and sly whispers the girl beside him received." Sasuke pointed out blandly." Sakura was quite obviously trumped by his logic. They had been there for but forty-five minutes when the door was thrown open and an extremely angry. please. "No. "You're the one responsible for my son's death!" . "Fine. Sakura apparently noticed as well and made it a point to keep her head up and her stride purposeful. a frantic nurse insisting that he stop this at once. Eat first.that she had bitten her lower lip so much that it bled." He could just hear her mumble of "Who died and made you the King of Consumption?" -Sasuke remained diligently by Sakura's side as they entered the hospital. strained conversation with the receptionist. accounting for the bit of dried blood near the corner of her mouth. "Surely a few more minutes wouldn't make much of a difference. He observed as she made polite. Only when they entered Sakura's office and closed the door did Sakura's head droop and her hair swing forward to hide her face. who had used his god-like speed to block her exit. It was quite evident that they all were aware that Sakura had lost a patient the previous day.

they should have just executed you the moment you stepped back in the village. but he could tell she was still upset by the way her voice quavered. remember? One misdemeanor and they could throw you in prison! And Shishou was thinking about lightening your punishment because of good behavior." Sasuke. clutching his hand to his chest. Her expression was imploring. "I really am. So what? My son is dead and it's your fault. I can't believe the Hokage let you off with just probation. too! So please. "Leave. so the girl's got a bite. Sasuke could only see the back of her head. "You're still on probation. "Oh. He looked at Sasuke incredulously before comprehension dawned upon his features. Hireko would still be alive! Do you understand?! My son is dead because of you!" Sasuke was indescribably furious that this asshole barged in and started shouting horrible things at Sakura when she was trying so hard to pretend she was alright. At the last moment Sakura's small hands closed around his fist. Sasuke rose to his feet quickly and stalked to stand before the irate father. "I'm really sorry about your son. sir!" the nurse pressed. to no avail." she said sincerely to the man in front of her. Sasuke looked into her wide." Sasuke commanded quietly. not some silly little girl that wanted to play doctor. . Sasuke gingerly brought a hand up to wipe the blood away. If you ask me. "Oh. and she was biting down so hard on her lower lip that blood was trickling from the corner of her mouth again." he sneered. "Sasuke-kun. and he certainly didn't heed them. she tried her best and—" The man didn't even appear to notice her protests. "It's your fault Hireko died! If only they'd put a real medic on duty in the emergency room. eventually releasing him. It only smeared." Sasuke was surprised by the fierce tone her voice took on. Pointing an accusatory finger at his thunderstruck victim. "Don't speak like that! It's not Sakura-san's fault. he deemed it very necessary to step in and shield her from the hateful words being flung at her so carelessly. stop!" she pled frantically. please don't. Hireko's father stumbled backwards. so Sasuke grabbed his wrist and twisted it in what he knew from experience was a very painful way. contempt evident in his voice. Sasuke shoved forcefully Sakura out of the way. I know you. For me. bitch! You're so pathetic and incompetent that you couldn't even save one kid's life! You only got this position because you're the Hokage's favorite. in Sasuke's iron grip."Please. desperate green eyes. so don't you go thinking you can tell me what I dare or dare not do!" Livid and murderous. was about to demand that he leave a second time when Sakura jumped from her seat and stepped between them. he bellowed. But don't you dare talk to Sasuke-kun like that. The man gasped in pain and struggled. "You're the Uchiha traitor. The man sneered in condescension at her. The man was still pointing the damnatory finger at Sakura. unfazed by the man's harsh opinion." For me. Noting her increasingly upset expression. fully intent upon smashing the bastard's face in.

It displeased him. . pressing her face into his chest. Sakura-chan. Hey." She nodded. Naruto. "Oi. "She. you're not God." The man took one look at Naruto's stony countenance. "I'd like that. "says you're yelling at Sakura-chan. Sakura continued to look at the spot where he had been. and obviously thought better of taking on two angry shinobi. and Sasuke feared she had stopped breathing. turning to face away from her. For several long moments Sakura didn't move. "Thanks. gesticulating towards the nurse." For Sakura." his expression brightened." Naruto laughed in embarrassment and scratched the back of his head. I'll meet you there in about half an hour. did you?" he asked earnestly. Naruto released her wordlessly. it's not!" Naruto disagreed vehemently. Then she wrinkled her nose. like. grateful smile. how are you going to heal all the other people who need your help?" Sakura looked at him very solemnly for a moment before she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his torso. Naruto strode into the room dramatically (The loser was trying to look cool. "Che. Tsunade-baachan couldn't have done any better. Naruto's arms curled around her shoulders. the nurse from before tailing him. a million people! And remember that time in Suna. He was just about to tear her from Naruto's arms and check when she sighed heavily and withdrew. Naruto. and Sasuke saw adoration shining brightly in her eyes." she whispered. The blond-haired boy grinned. "You're an amazing medic. narrowing his eyes in satisfaction. Enjoy it while you can." he snapped his fingers for effect. it was just too late. cradling her gently. Naruto. okay? I'm gonna go home and shower real fast. "Cool. "Sounds good. you're going to lose some patients. "It's my fault he's dead.Scowling." "No. Naruto watched him run away. "Oh. "You smell bad." she said warmly. what's going on here?" a voice Sasuke knew much too well demanded. Sasuke pulled his hand out of her grasp and shoved both hands in his pockets. I had just finished training when I came to check on you. Sakura-chan! You've saved. "It was true. before facing Sakura. when you saved Kankuro just like that. for some reason. He none too gracefully fled the room." And then Naruto was gone. But if you get all bent out of shape because you lose one person." Naruto said to Hireko's father slowly. yeah. "when everyone else thought it was impossible? You tried your best on that kid. Sakura's face broke into a relieved. "Sakurachan." she said quietly." Sakura laughed slightly. Sasuke thought scornfully). you didn't believe all the crap the guy was saying. glanced at Sasuke's equally furious scowl. "why don't I take you and the bastard over there to the ramen stand? My treat.

reclining idly. Your Magnificence'?" Apparently she was feeling a bit better. I just wanted to tell you not to let Sakura overexert herself for the next couple of days." Sasuke commented articulately." Sasuke was already sitting back down on the sofa. "Sakura's not here." the Hokage informed him. It was ten minutes later that Sasuke felt the need to point out the obvious. -It was only five minutes later that Tsunade stepped in and stood before Sasuke.' or a 'Yes. And…? "I passed Sakura in the hall on my way here. Life was cruel and ironic like that. Another chapter. and the Hokage departed after rolling her eyes and muttering about the impudence of kids these days. Naruto was the one who saved her. Sakura just smiled at him.Sakura walked over to him and laid a gentle hand on his arm. ." Tsunade raised her eyebrows at the slightly bitter note in his voice. he thought bitterly. who was it that was taking care of the other—Sasuke or Sakura? Huzzah. and he felt a bit better. Everyone seemed to think that he could take care of Sakura. that's not surprising. He couldn't." he muttered. Sakura rolled her green eyes. Sasuke frowned and stared at the upholstery of the sofa. "I'm going to make my rounds really quick. Sakura. He just wasn't capable of something like that." Sasuke raised an eyebrow." "Hn. "She seemed to be doing…better than I had expected. And he hadn't. Be proud. Sasuke-kun. Naruto could take care of Sakura. though. Couldn't you shake it up once in a while with a 'Whatever you say. Naruto does. Naruto was." "Very observant. fond smile and was out the door. "Huh. "You and your perpetual 'hn's." Sasuke drawled. "No. okay?" "Hn." Sasuke looked away uncomfortably. "I didn't do anything. "I'll work on that. Because in reality. as if to ask. not Sasuke. Anyway." She cast a speculative glance at him. Well. "And thank you. Be proud of me. I actually came here to see you. her hands on her hips. "Do you have anything to do with that?" "No. Sakura offered him a small. aren't you?" Tsunade remarked dryly.

blindly shoving anything and everything that reminded him of his recently deceased family into the awaiting boxes. The caustic taste of blood in his mouth from biting the inside of his cheek. . He clearly remembered the day he had packed the boxes and hauled them to the attic. and his father had informed him that only the best would be accepted. who sent me a spiffy email that boosted my ego to a frightening size. Ugh. This feels something like justice--or irony. aged six or seven. "Do what you want.Sasuke is becoming bitter(er). He remembered the regret and guilt and disappointment. He remembered with devastating clarity the feelings he had experienced once he learned that Itachi was light-years ahead of him. but she still seemed so fragile after the boy's death that he was afraid of upsetting her. Apologies all around. At the time Sasuke had grinned and nodded. "It was bothering me. Be afraid. Thank you for all the cool reviews. he encountered a photograph of himself. I love emails. troubled by the knowledge that all the things from his past were sitting up here. the desperation and frustration and hurt. I am officially in love with Ben Barnes. Sasuke vaguely recalled the conversation that had ensued on the way to the photographer's stand. Hah. Sasuke had been about to enter the Academy. pathetic. Sasuke made an indistinct noise.So." he muttered from where he sat on the dusty wood floor of the attic. Sasuke grimaced. Everything Is Alright "Sasuke-kun…? What are you…doing…?" Sakura asked the dark-haired youth a few days later. I'm TRYING AND FAILING (miserably) to make the chapters longer. It'll be a bonding experience! she had said. even though my Internet is so screwy that I can only get to my Inbox once out of every seven tries. weak. confident that he would be able to catch up with his esteemed elder brother in no time. He remembered the angry tears threatening to overflow from his eyes.. drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. that he would have to live up to Itachi's standards." He wanted to tell her to leave. the way he had trembled and shook violently. pitiful. Rummaging through a box. who plays Prince Caspian in the new Narnia movie. gathering dust. Sakura approached him cautiously. surrounded by cardboard boxes. hurtling forward while Sasuke dwindled in his wake. (hugs all around) Special thanks to amy red rose." It was true. he had been sleeping restlessly (even more so than usual) the past few nights. Beware. hesitant. He remembered feeling helpless. he hadn't wanted her to see this. Either way. unsure. disgraceful. Her voice was soft. You guys make me feel special. "What brought this all one?" she inquired carefully. that he could make his father proud. guys. I'm sorry. "Just sorting through some junk. and his father. I just don't have a long enough attention-span to write a decent-sized chapter. One day his mother had prompted her husband to go into town and be photographed with his youngest son.. "Do you mind if I stay?" Sasuke shrugged tensely. The slender girl slowly crouched to sit beside him.

" She ducked her head so that her hair tumbled forward and hid her face from view. He remembered the feelings ofcrumbling-fading-blurring and breaking-shattering. You're still struggling. She looked sad and troubled. to run fast enough and train hard enough to chase you down and drag you back and make everything alright again. Sakura brushed her thin fingers over the cuts. Sasuke chanced a quick glance at her face. And I didn't stop falling. "I would feel souseless and pathetic that I don't think I would be able to stand it. "I don't want to feel useless and pathetic anymore. He's dead. he reminded himself. from Itachi. one day…I want you to tell me that you're alright. but…please. dead-dead-dead. He remembered the feeling of hopelessness. shuddering breath.He remembered the feelings of sinking…of falling…of suffocating and choking and struggling and screaming. that you're okay. "I'm afraid. Naruto saved you. Sasuke-kun. until finally: "I had a dream once. could get there before it struck midnight…I thought that I could save you—from Orochimaru. Her expression was solemn. But…I'm even more afraid that if you did accept my help and I failed. "So…so just let me know if you even need my help. When that day comes…tell me. Sasuke was able to read her like a book. that you'll push me away. that you're happy. making her worry… They sat in complete silence for a dusty eternity. But you didn't need me to save you. I don't know. "I…I was standing on the face of a clock." She took a deep. my purpose to save you after you left. "I thought…I thought that if I couldn't save you. Both hands were on the twelve. Sasuke-kun. I think you're still a little bit lost and a little bit confused and a little bit scared. Itachi's dead. But…even if I am useless and pathetic…I think I might eventually be okay. could heal you. I was far behind when they struck twelve again. Then they started moving. He mentally berated himself. Even if I couldn't do anything for you. Tell me that you're alright. though. where he had unknowingly been gripping his temples so hard that his fingernails left weeping gouge-marks." She finally turned to look at him. trying to beat them. He was always causing her trouble. I could help you. And. his skin once again flawless and marble-smooth.you're still bleeding. I'm afraid that you won't want my help. a green spark flared and the abrasions disappeared." . So why did he still feel like this? Small hands reached over and pulled his much larger hands down from his head. I ran after them. but her eyes blazed and Sasuke saw desperation and compassion and determination written across her features. if I just knew. but it was hopeless. that even without my help. "I thought…I thought that if I beat the clock-hands. if I couldn't help you…" She was whispering now. from yourself. and for the first time since they were thirteen. Sasukekun. But you still…I don't know. and then the clock-face shattered and I…fell." She smiled bitterly. I thought that it was my job. "I know it's really selfish of me. I never managed it. I think. And…I think that somewhere inside you. "I was too late." Sakura began quietly. I could do that much.

Sasuke put his hands on her shoulders and propelled her down the stairs. . a drug-pusher. "A scroll." "That would be a lie. "And who is she going to believe. Yeah. and he smirked. reading a scroll. "Don't worry about me. "You are a piece of work. She appeared to just notice his reading material. adorable. She gave him a sunny smile." Sakura said brightly. pulling Sakura up with him. When they reached the bottom. "Only with food—a food-pusher? You know what. and Sasuke was perfectly content to leave it that way." he grumbled.She was gazing at him so earnestly that Sasuke had to avert his eyes to the floor. her adorable—yes. regarding her as if she was mentally surpassed by a potato." Sasuke said slowly. "Hey. "No." Sasuke rolled his eyes and turned to re-enter the attic. an amused glint in his black eyes. coming to a sudden stop before him and tugging at his shirt. what's that?" she asked curiously. Sasukekun." She opened her mouth to say something. "You are. "And why would I do that?" Sakura's expression became sober. At a complete loss of what to say after…that. "I'm coming. but Sasuke cut her off by shoving her lightly towards the kitchen." After a moment she amended. "Why would I know where it is?" "Because you're amazing and awesome and cool and magical and special and you're going to help me find it." he muttered. He was sitting in the living room. "Right?" Sasuke raised one eyebrow idly." She exhaled sharply. The threat: "Come down here and say that" drifted up to his ears from below him. he released her and said at length. like. "Because if you don't I'll tell Shishou that I was late getting to the hospital today because you refused to cooperate—and that on the way you mugged an old lady and filched a kid's lollipop. Sakura tractably allowed him to guide her. you're just pushy. or a convict?" The girl made a point. don't you sneer at me—former apprentice. -"Sasuke-kun! Have you seen my hairbrush?" Sakura inquired frantically one morning a few weeks later. peering at the parchment in his hands." Sasuke answered. They never discussed their conversation in the attic." Sasuke pointed out blandly. "Sakura…" he frowned and rose to his feet. "Go eat something. rolling up the scroll.

"I can tolerate you more when you're quiet. perhaps. A nightstand that matched the desk stood beside the bed and on it was a small table-lamp and a photograph of the original Team Seven. "Ninjutsu. "I'm a girl—I have mood swings. which displayed various other photographs: there were many of her with Naruto. A few minutes later she was sitting on her bed in a dejected manner. "If you say so." Sakura made a noncommittal noise. They were crammed with books—old and new. y'know? What's the scroll about?" Sasuke shrugged. "C'mon—I'm going to be late again if I can't find my hairbrush. and then Tsunade-sama will lecture me again and I'll be irritated again and then I'll take it out on you again and then you'll make one of your doubtlessly snarky remarks again and I'll be angry for the rest of the day again and the whole experience will just be genuinely unpleasant. Sasuke picked up one and discovered that it was a classical composer he didn't recognize. also painted to match the desk and nightstand. "You are a very boring person. It was fairly simple and sensible. Sasuke was just about to suggest they head to the hospital regardless when he spotted a dark blue handle sticking out from behind the desk. a mint green comforter adorned her bed. searching for her elusive hairbrush. a few with Ino. mumbling to herself about how she knew she should have gotten a spare brush. In the only open corner of the room was an overstuffed bean-bag chair next to a small table with a CD-player sitting on it. Sasuke realized that he had never really stopped to look at it." she mused thoughtfully. inspecting it as if he would have to give a report on it. You get what I'm saying?" "Why are you so talkative today?" Sasuke asked quizzically as she led him to her room. a good deal with Hinata. folders. Meanwhile. large and small. Inside her room. Sakura gave him a skeptical look. can't you deviate from the norm a little? Step out of your rut? Read something about politics. but the rest of the room was taken up by three large bookcases. you're more moody than I am. as I'm sure you're aware. before grabbing his arm. one with Shikamaru. scrolls." Sakura sighed in disappointment. The rest were of other members of their age group and their numerous mentors." Sasuke said flatly. and three with Neji. her desk near the bed was wooden and painted white. which made him scowl irritably. Seriously. "Where is it?" she growled. or philosophy?" "Politics give me a headache and philosophy is just a bunch of old men dithering on about life and the soul and whatever—not my thing. Sasuke stiffened like an angry cat and refused to answer her. It was overflowing with papers. "You are just so clever.Sakura stuck her tongue out at him. Sakura was tearing apart her bed. so I'd rather avoid it on the whole. A bulletin board hung on the wall. looking at him out of the corner of her eye. and notebooks. some of which included another white-eyed girl that Sasuke realized must be Hinata's younger sister. . Also on the table was a disorganized stack of CDs. books. files. so he did so then. Although. Some clothing items were tossed casually on the floor." she commented vaguely.

Later." she said. Sakura resisted his assistance and stepped past him into the room. just read one and I'll be happy. "Yeah. right?" Sakura pointed out. resigned." ." -When they returned home that night—later than usual. And you've got to be bored. "Does it really mean that much to you?" Sakura nodded eagerly. however. They had grabbed a quick dinner on the way home. because Sakura had stopped by Shikamaru's house to play shougi with him while Sasuke observed. She grinned at him." Something foreign but undeniably pleasant fizzed in Sasuke's nerves. Ignoring the sensation. Sasuke-kun. "I decided that I'd help you vary your reading material. These are some books I thought you might like. partly irritated and partly curious. Sasuke realized she was struggling and made to take the staggering amount of literature from her." Sasuke was about to protest her presumptuous action and demand that she remove the offending objects from his bed when she cut him off. Sakura shrugged. Bewildered. "What are you doing?" he asked. He opened the door. you. "I've got it. he mumbled instead." "Hn. Sobering instantly. he was surprised to receive a knock on his bedroom door. "Your opinion means a lot to me. she glared at him without any sincere malice. I'll think about it. and he gave her a meaningful look." "Why?" Sasuke asked. "There's politics and philosophy and autobiographies and textbooks and novels and essays and stuff. gesturing to the books strewn about his once-tidy bed." she insisted. and sure enough it proved to be the item Sakura had sought so persistently for. they each disappeared to their respective rooms. yeah. "I'd actually like to know what you think of some of them. just give them a shot. doubtful. "Fine. "Please." Sakura grinned at him. Sasuke tapped her on the shoulder and offered it to her with a smug smirk." Sakura rolled her eyes. Sasuke let out an exasperated breath and ran a hand through his tousled hair. Sakura was standing there juggling a towering stack of books. You don't have to read all of them—just. "That was your cue to leave. "Shut up. Sasuke disapproved of her stubborn display of independence. Sakura beamed ecstatically before she noticed his self-impressed expression. but decided to lecture her another time and find out why in the world she had just dumped a load of books on his bed first.He grabbed it.

but against his better judgment Sasuke interrupted her. CALL ME. right?" Sakura shook her head. that had it been in his nature. Sakura's head jerked up. By the way. Ben Barnes. In his thirteen-year-old mind." Sasuke repeated. However. he wasn't sure. his regard of her had undergone a slow. After Uchiha Sasuke defected the village and she confronted Naruto as he and four others. because he reasoned that she was being sensible—there really was nothing she could have done. Logic and reason were things he could empathize with. I like some parts of this chapter and dislike others. so he warned. just wanted you all to know. set out to track down the runaway. she had been condemned by fate to end up as an average. including Neji. nothing-special Chuunin. "Don't make me have to check on you every hour. which may increase the quality—possibly. Sasuke waited until he saw her light flick off before he too went to bed. "You're going to bed.She turned to go. then the other set out on a journey. No one he would make any effort to associate himself with. slightly irritating person that barely showed up on his radar. Anyway. "Excuse me?" she squawked indignantly. that gives me time to actually PLAN AHEAD. if you happen to be reading this. "To bed. When he first met her as a Genin." he said bluntly." She glared at him. Angst and stuff. and then retire as a housewife. loud. referring to the dark shadows under her eyes that bothered Sasuke so greatly. Afterwards his disgust also dissipated. So. so I may not be submitting as frequently in the near future because of that. satisfied. However. She looked ready to argue. "You're already sleep-deprived enough—you look terrible. Everything Is Alright The exact point in time that Neji had become interested in Sakura romantically. I have some stuff to—" "Go to bed. but that's an improvement. "Later. his pity had quickly dissipated when she begged Naruto to bring the Uchiha back for her—her spineless. She had been just the weakest member of Team Seven to him. weak behavior had disgusted him to a small degree. All he knew that over the course of roughly seven or so years. turned on her heel and stalked off to her room. right? My Internet is malfunctioning unbelievably. a weak. he had felt a small amount of contempt and disdain for her (he hadn't cared enough about her to feel any more than that). gradual evolution." Sasuke ordered sternly. and finally her instructor became reinstated . A few weeks later a small amount of pity for her was beginning to form again—first one of her teammates left. he may have tried to comfort her. and pushed her out the door. he had felt a bit of pity for her when he first saw her—she had looked so devastated. so utterly crushed.

leaving her entirely by herself. but he remembered having been slightly unnerved at the sight of her. healthier. Neji-san?" she asked politely. She had been walking in a way that seemed aimless. "I don't see why not. but when he landed in the hospital again." she greeted quietly. "Yes. Sakura had been appointed to heal him. Less than a week later he heard that she had approached the newly-appointed Godaime and requested an apprenticeship. He had encountered her on the street shortly after Naruto left. He had watched her silently as she attended to him. and found it difficult." She had paused and turned to look at him inquiringly. and he noted that she looked livelier. hesitant smile. Then with a small parting wave she had headed for the door. and she knelt by the bedside. almost a full year later. He had gestured for her to go ahead. and Neji had been puzzled and skeptical—surely she couldn't have gained enough skill in only five months to be able to heal him. "Would it be possible for Haruno Sakura-san to heal me?" The nurse had deliberated. He remembered marveling at how small her hands were." She had grinned slightly. "Do you mind?" she inquired. which Tsunade had agreed to. because in all actuality they had never spoken before." After that he hadn't thought of her much. a soft green glow forming around her small hands. Lee's passionate loyalty. "Sakura-san. he remembered being confused as to why the Hokage had accepted her as an apprentice. "Thank you. but before her hand reached the door-handle he had interrupted her.in ANBU. He had approved. asking his permission to touch his lightly bleeding wound. he had kept his doubt to himself and watched her approach from where he was prone on a hospital bed. and he had been surprised that she had healed him so efficiently in such a short amount of time. She had offered him a fleeting. He had held her eyes with his own and said quietly. purposeless. Five months later he had been injured on a mission and sent to the hospital. Neji-san. prominent against his pale skin. she had taken the appropriate steps in furthering her career as a shinobi. Her face had been blank and expressionless. It had been the first time he had seen her since their brief encounter on the street. She had stood and instructed him to take it easy for a little while. "Hello. He would have thought that she would have chosen someone with more potential. However. He tried to imagine himself without Tenten's steady presence." she allowed. taking into account the brevity of her training thus far. "Is she a friend of yours?" . "No problem. His pity had grown. and without even someone to supervise? Still. He had probed at what was once a long. and Gai's fiery mentorship. and alert the hospital immediately if something went amiss. He hadn't acknowledged her in any way. deep gash in his side and was now a shiny pink scar. he had asked the nurse impulsively. Her expression was serene and attentive as she tended to the wound. The procedure took about five minutes. her eyes dull and despondent.

but once she was angry. She had talents outside of healing— talents he did not want her to unleash on him. and asked her one day to drop the polite. He had flown backwards and hit his head on a tree. He slowly became accustomed to the other aspects of her personality. on the basis that if the Uchiha wanted to. but didn't hesitate to speak her mind. After the immense shock had worn off. . he could easily hurt her. dear. Neji was pragmatic and cool-headed enough to be thinking of marriage at the young age of twenty—shinobi did tend to marry young. He noticed that she was interested in the Byakugan from a medical perspective. The nurse had smiled knowingly. and Neji had wondered whether she knew he had requested her specifically. knocking him unconscious. and her sense of humor varied from bubbly and mockingly enthusiastic to dry and sarcastic. She was comparatively quiet. "A friendly acquaintance.Neji had mused over that. He supposed it was then that he started to see her in a romantic light. and the extraordinary genes that would have resulted in Lee and Gai's impossibly bushy eyebrows. She had accepted. At first Neji had been entirely displeased that Sakura was to be living with him. Neji realized that he had come to regard her as a friend as well. I'll go see if she's busy. she didn't mention it. a tidal wave of respect for her besieged him. he invited her to train with him once his most recent injury was healed. solid punch to the jaw. innocent conversations—they would discuss mutual acquaintances. "Alright. Unfortunately. Sakura was a good friend of Hinata's. If she did know. he made it a point to stay out of her way. Her hair was a pale enough pink that it was complimentary rather than offending. and during their spar he had been on the receiving end of one good. Over time their conversations became more detailed and in depth. and her eyes were a lovely green." he said slowly. and told her all he could about it without breaching the Hyuuga Clan's code of maintaining the secrecy of their bloodline. formal suffix she added to his name. his vague musings about a future with her were obstructed by the return of Uchiha Sasuke. She had a ferocious temper that she rarely expressed." A few minutes later Sakura had walked in. but she was also quite pretty in a delicate. running the word through his mind and comparing it to his close to nonexistent relationship with the green-eyed girl being discussed. which had Neji was a bit grateful for. and they began having small. exotic way. She was one of the extremely few people that could truthfully claim as being able to make him laugh on a semi-regular basis. She was typically cheerful and in good spirits. and at length. and gotten to work. He had awoken to find her above him. healing his broken jaw. as someone he wouldn't mind spending the rest of his life with. After that Neji would usually request her to heal him. Around a year ago he had begun to seek her out more than was usual for two young adults with busy schedules. recent events. so he would often meet her at the Hyuuga Complex. She complied on the condition that he also dropped the honorific he referred to her with. When he was sixteen and she fifteen. and Neji quickly came to realize that Sakura was an extremely intelligent individual. He didn't think about it often. smiled at him and greeted him. And thus he became Neji and she Sakura.

His concern for her safety, however, quickly evaporated once he noticed the silent protection the black-haired youth offered her willingly, and a detached, clinical part of his mind noticed that she would probably be safer with Sasuke accompanying her everywhere—there were very few people in Konoha willing to pick a fight with him, and he had made it clear that anyone who picked a fight with Sakura was picking a fight with him. What irritated him was how easily the traitor had returned to his teammate's good graces, how unalterably affectionate and trusting she was towards him. Neji had worked hard and long to consider himself one of her closest friends, and Sasuke had just walked back into her life and she just handed her friendship and acceptance to him on a silver platter. Neji also disliked how Sasuke seemed to be able to influence her more. Since he came back, Sakura had been generally more cheerful and talkative. She seemed to genuinely enjoy just being with Sasuke, and the quiet, careful attention he gave her. Neji, as perceptive as he was, could tell that Sasuke harbored affection towards Sakura, but he didn't think that Sasuke had any romantic interest in her. However, he knew that Sasuke disliked him, and if Neji approached Sakura in a romantic manner, he was sure that Sasuke would discourage Sakura from reciprocating Neji's feelings. There was a very good chance that Sasuke's disapproval would be enough to sway her. What Neji was unsure of was Sakura's feelings toward Sasuke. She was just as protective of him as he was of her, but in a different way. Whenever one of the various residents would speak badly of the young Uchiha, she would step in front of him, as if to bodily shield him from insults and anger. She handled Sasuke with something almost akin to maternal care, while Sasuke treated her as if she were fragile and delicate. It was clear that Sasuke wasn't accustomed to being gentle, but for Sakura, he managed. Neji determined that what Sakura felt for Sasuke was either very strong friendship or wellconcealed love. He hoped it was the former. -Neji knocked politely on the door to Sakura's office in the Konoha Hospital. A distant, vague "Come in" reached his ears, so he turned the knob and stepped into the room. Predictably, Sasuke was on the sofa, as he had been every other time Neji had called on Sakura, and did not bother to look up when Neji entered. Curiously, however, the younger boy was reading a book and seemed to be rather engrossed in it. Sakura was, of course, at her desk, poring over a horrifyingly large medical text. She looked up when Neji came to stand beside her desk and offered him a distracted smile. "Neji, hi," she intoned casually. "Did you need something…?" One of the few things that irritated Neji about Sakura was her tendency to be completely absorbed in her work and to pay hardly any attention at all to someone trying to talk to her. Speaking to her at such times was undeniably frustrating, but Neji had found that he could draw her attention to himself if he approached it at the right angle. "Sakura," he began, "some of our servants were dusting in our library when they stumbled upon some old medical volumes. I was wondering if you would like to come take a look at them later this afternoon." Sakura, he knew, had the oddest penchant for perusing dusty old medical texts

for hours on end, and he was sure that she would jump at the chance to investigate what seemed to be original works. Sakura gave him a small, apologetic smile, not the enthusiastic grin he had expected. "Sorry, Neji," she apologized. "Tsunade-sama has me researching this one disease, and I really don't have time for anything else today." "Tomorrow, then?" Neji pressed readily. Sakura shook her head. "I promised Sasuke-kun that I would spar with him after my shift tomorrow." Neji glanced accusingly at the prone figure on the sofa, and could have sworn that the other boy's face was adorned with a smug smirk. Neji frowned. Apparently Sakura was even more engrossed in her work than he had originally thought if the attraction of new reading material couldn't even entice her to bring her focus back to the world around her. "Sakura." Sakura glanced quizzically back at the youth on the sofa who had uttered her name. "Yes, Sasuke-kun?" she murmured. "This book is stupid," the black-eyed boy said flatly, holding up the book he had been reading. Sakura turned to him and said earnestly, "Sasuke-kun, you can't just declare it stupid if you're only on the third chapter." "I'm not going to read more of it if I already know it's stupid," Sasuke scoffed. Sakura frowned at him. "At least get to the seventh chapter—if you still think it's stupid then, you can stop reading it," she compromised. "You are so annoying," Sasuke muttered. Neji found it rude, but Sakura obviously saw it as consent and bestowed a pleased smile upon the boy. Neji noticed that during the brief exchange, her attention had been focused solely on Sasuke, and not on her work. The way that Sasuke was able to grab Sakura's attention so easily, and on such a mundane matter, frustrated Neji to no end. What made Uchiha Sasuke so special, so exceptional in Sakura's eyes? In Neji's opinion the youth was just an arrogant, rude, foolish boy that seemed to take pleasure in interfering with Neji's intentions toward Sakura. What a bastard.

Um. Hi. (waves timidly) So, yeah...sorry. Yes, this chapter is horribly late and horribly random and horribly OOC-ish, but I just realized that I have no idea what goes on in Neji's head but still felt the need to make an attempt at clarification of Neji's intentions towards Sakura. So, yeah.

My Internet is now working, but I'm paranoid that it's going to spazz at any moment, so just be aware that the next chapter could also be unforgivably late. ...Don't hurt me? So: 1) How did I do with Neji's POV? 2) I saw a bus with an advertisement for Prince Caspian on it--FYI, BEN BARNES'S FACE. DUDE. If you here about a small blond girl stealing a bus, you'll know. 3) If what Madara is currently saying is true, I will feel a bit guilty for my willful hatred towards Itachi. I will always regard him as a bastard, though, Just Because I Can. Two words: BITE ME. 4) Has anyone read the manga Air Gear? (Hey, Agito-kun, will you marry me?) 5) I also want to marry Mr. Darcy and Jasper Cullen and Ben Barnes and a whole host of other people (all male, if you must know. Wonder how that's gonna work out... 6) Am I the only person who, in the middle of the Twilight movie, is going to end up randomly screaming "NO CEDRIC, DON'T DIE!"? 7) I want a taco. 8) You know who can't have a taco? 9) CEDRIC. 10) Because he's dead. Fear me. FEAR, dammit Everything Is Alright That night Sasuke woke around one AM when he heard a muffled clatter come from somewhere else in the house. He immediately checked for Sakura's chakra signature in her room, and felt a brief flare of panic when he realized she wasn't there. He searched the rest of the house rapidly and only relaxed when he located Sakura somewhere around the kitchen. He had some amount of trouble seeking her chakra, as it seemed to be depleted greatly. Disentangling himself from the blankets on his bed, he swung his legs down to the cold hardwood floor and sighed gustily before ambling towards the kitchen to find out what exactly Sakura was doing at such an unseemly hour. He found her sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor, scrubbing furiously at a pot. Scattered across the floor were other such kitchen utensils that were separated, it seemed, into two categories: those that had already been polished and those that hadn't. "Sakura," Sasuke mumbled groggily, "why are you scrubbing pots?" Sakura made a noncommittal noise and otherwise didn't respond. She was in her sleep-attire of pajama pants and a camisole, and Sasuke's keen eyesight enabled him to see goose-bumps raised along the exposed flesh of her arms and her almost imperceptible shivering. Sasuke sighed a second time and padded out to the living room where he grabbed a blanket that had been hanging off a chair. He brought it back to the kitchen, where he arranged it around Sakura's shoulders before sitting down beside her. Sakura pulled the soft material closer and hummed gratefully.

Sasuke pinned her to his side with his arm. After that task was performed. An hour later." she yawned. "Sakura!" he admonished angrily. The ending result was sloppy.During the months that he had been living with her. Sasuke shook his head emphatically. Sasuke got to his feet. "I don't really want to talk about it right now. Sasuke looked to Sakura's face. he knelt by her and took her left hand. She was clearly tired and staring at her hands blankly. "What's bothering you?" he asked at length. but rubbed it in more gently. …Sakura's hands were bleeding. Sakura paused for quite a time before she breathed out slowly. if she was upset. Alarmed. before flashstepping to the bathroom." Fair enough. "I used up basically all of my chakra on a patient. repetitive tasks to keep her occupied. Typically she slept deeply. Sasuke had learned that he could tell Sakura's state of mind by her sleep patterns. Sasuke grabbed both of her hands in his own and examined them. "You stay right there. he noticed drowsily that Sakura's hands were bleeding. when Sasuke's eyelids were drooping and Sakura's ministrations were slowing. Sasuke accepted her response and let the matter drop as he laid his head on her shoulder." she murmured. angry." "Can't. inhaling her scent of lavender and lilacs quietly. Sasuke pulled her down and hissed. After hurrying back to the girl he had left in the kitchen. she would be unable to sleep and would instead seek out mundane. "Huh. "Where do you think you're going?" "Bed. . but good enough for some god-forsaken hour of the morning. They were chafed badly and bleeding sluggishly from the steel-wool she'd been using. but once in a while." Well." he ordered sternly. he eventually found a roll of bandages and a small tube of antiseptic. Squirting out a small amount of antiseptic. Rummaging through the basket of medical supplies under the sink. "You can't just destroy your hands like this!" "Hmm…" Sakura responded distantly. "Not until you heal your hands." Sakura mumbled. Sakura let out a small noise of protest when the antiseptic contacted her open wounds and tried to squirm away from him. screw that. or ill at ease. he began to clumsily wrap the bandages around her hands. Instantly awake. before yawning and attempting to stand. he began to rub the ointment methodically into her skin.

That's size discrimination. he pulled her as gently as he could to her feet." she threatened. "You little twerp." Sakura mashed her face into her pillow and didn't answer him. you freakishly tall person. "Th'nk you." "I will sell you to a freak show. tucking the comforter up to her shoulders. Wake up. you see if I won't. "Come on." Sasuke corrected frankly. "'M not little." "What. "7:30. irritated. "Get out of my room. it was a statement of a fact. Sasuke breathed out sharply and shook her shoulder. "Screw you. -"Sakura.'" . pointedly ignoring his jibe." he murmured. Exhaling softly. "I'll come up with a better retort and get back to you. Sparing one final glance at the peacefully sleeping girl. Slowly. S'suke-kun." "Sleep. you can't come up with anything better than that?" Sasuke smirked condescendingly. so he wrapped an arm around her shoulders in order to brace her weight against his side." Sasuke muttered." Sakura mumbled as she slowly sat up.He glanced at Sakura and noticed that her eyelids were fluttering and her head bobbing—she was drifting in and out of sleep. Made Only Taller by His Stupid and Spiky Hair That Looks like a Chicken's Ass. "No. You're going to be late again. buddy. though he had a feeling it was more of her body's volition than any desire to follow his orders. "People will be lining up left. She stood up gradually and scowled when the top of her head only came up to Sasuke's collar-bone. he turned out the light and headed to his own bedroom." "Whatimizzit?" Sakura slurred. right and center in order to catch a glimpse of 'He of Freakishly Tall Proportions." Sakura yawned." Sakura moaned and mashed her face further into the pillow." Sasuke smirked. get up. Sakura's eyes were already closed when she mumbled. She swayed unsteadily. rubbing at her eyes with small fists. yawning largely. he led the slim girl to her room and deposited her in her bed. "The truth of the matter is that you're freakishly short. and the girl immediately did his bidding. Sakura.

"And you are annoying when you say that I am annoying. She was attempting to put her hair up in a ponytail. a navy blue skirt. He took it and she helped him to his feet. orthodox color." "My hair is not orthodox because I am not orthodox. and a light gray shirt. today could be the day you win the lottery. but was hindered by the thick wrapping of bandages around her hands. Sasuke smirked and sat down on the couch in the living room. frowning at him in confusion. She offered him a sleepy grin and shut the door." Sasuke remarked brazenly as he was shoved out of the room. Sasuke-kun—to the hospital!" "What are you so enthusiastic about?" Sasuke grumbled. Sasuke stepped closer to her so that he could intentionally loom over her." Sakura stood and offered him a hand." Sasuke answered solemnly. she reached up and ruffled the spikes at the back of his head. "Don't make me come down there. Sasuke tugged her down so that she was sitting in front if him and took the hair-elastic from her. Sasuke glowered at her. "Thanks." "Hn." he threatened." Sasuke rolled his eyes. attired in black leggings. Sasuke-kun." Sakura countered blithely. "At least my hair's a normal. or get your disturbingly white skin to tan. "It's part of my charm." To emphasize. see if he won't. ." he muttered as he carefully smoothed her glossy hair into a neat ponytail and wound the elastic around it. or finally get your hair to lie down flat. "Let's go. He'll beat you up. Sasuke observed her struggles for a minute before beckoning her over to the couch. with a dash of flair and a touch of zippity-pow. "What are you so unenthusiastic about? For all you know." Sakura asserted breezily."You're always in a horrible mood in the morning. batting her hands away from her hair. Twenty minutes later Sakura emerged. "Here. Sakura stuck her tongue out at him. She came. waiting for her to reappear. Sakura reached up gingerly to inspect his work and murmured. Did I mention I'm charming?" "You've touched upon it once or twice in passing." "You are annoying." Sasuke informed her without any venom. Sakura shrugged. "Don't make me tell Naruto you're being mean to me. "I am liberal.

. This is the reason that I have decided to move out of my dad's house. a wry quirk to his mouth. "See. "…You know?" she finished lamely. Sasuke sighed. I will. She sneered playfully at him and shut the door to her room. cross the state border. "Do what you want. She offered him a warm smile. She had no need to worry. actually I do. Although this left him feeling slightly melancholy and nostalgic. He tapped his fist to her forehead. "You are such a twerp." "Twerp. and live with my mom (this may not sound like a big deal. and entered his room as well. Sasuke headed for his room but paused when a small hand tugged at his sleeve. He turned around to find Sakura eyeing him uncertainly. "I will. "I'm glad." she muttered. struggling to say something. realizing the futility in continuing an argument with the extraordinarily stubborn girl." Sasuke admitted disinterestedly. So. -That evening when they returned to the manor.I have no excuse. you know…" She made some vague gestures with her hands. Sasuke-kun. "So it won't." she whispered." he assured her quietly. She bit her lip." She waved a hand halfheartedly." She still appeared unsure. it involves an evil stepsister that I have recently found myself saddled with. "You know the garden around the side of the house?" "Yeah." "Sakura. "Would it be alright if I planted some vegetables in it?" Sasuke shrugged. "I'm fine. "Goodnight. Sasuke only associated warm afternoons spent with his mother with the garden." he warned.. it was nothing he couldn't handle. "You are so pushy.Sakura smirked at him in satisfaction." Sasuke muttered under his breath." Sasuke mocked. but I've lived in the . Well. "Go to bed. "Sasuke-kun…" she began. you're so terrified you can't even vocalize a response." Sasuke nodded. chaste kiss to his forehead. Sasuke understood what she was getting at: she wanted to know if renewed use of the garden would bring back any unpleasant memories. before standing up as tall as she could to place a soft.

"Shishou. thankyouverymuch. it seems I have an unusual guest. 5) Anna Nalick rocks the world. "Ah. my.. 7) Awkward turtle." Sasuke offered a disdainful grunt.It's a fund-raiser thing. you with the computer." "Time is relative. it is 8:30 in the morning. "Sakura. BUT BEN BARNES PWNED. Ho yeah. the original version appalled me. Yeah. I realize this is short and shamefully late. who would win? (This was a bonus on my world cultures test). It looked like I was on crack when I wrote it--which I am not. My. enough about my family issues. I'd begun to think you were as much of a recluse as Kakashi." she moaned. Everything Is Alright Tsunade woke to her former apprentice shaking her shoulder gingerly. IF THAT IS NOT AWESOME. I am also thirteen. "Can't you let a woman sleep?" Sakura eyed her skeptically. I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS.same town for all but the first two years of my life. 4) World War III: it's gonna happen. Tsunade smirked. but at least it's less than it was. this is a surprise. WHERE ARE YOU WHEN HE NEEDS YOU MOST?! 2) I drew a muffin-family tree during my free period today. time to get up…you have forms to sign.. Officially. (conspiratorially) Wanna buy a towel? . SERIOUSLY. your job as Hokage began half an hour ago. but otherwise chose not to respond. will be neutral (Switzerland). "You want to take an afternoon off?" . "Do you mind if I take the afternoon off today?" Sakura asked. of course. Genin to send on menial tasks…" Tsunade gradually straightened from where she had been slumped over her desk in the Hokage's office. Unrelated: 1) SASUKE HAS GONE BANANAS--in the manga." Tsunade grumbled. Tsunade stared at her. 6) In a fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. so I had to rewrite it. It's short because my muse has taken a holiday. a few stray papers sticking to her cheek. to what do I owe this early morning visit?" she inquired of the green-eyed girl standing in front of her desk. well. Fajitas. so this is pretty drastic for me). It still is disgustingly fluffy. I'm telling you. (sidles up to reader) Hey--hey you. Boo-rah. Anyway. and it's late because when I first wrote it was disgustingly fluffy. "So. I am 100 percent drug and alcohol free. a disinterested expression on his face. And you know what? It's gonna be the (awesome) tacos against the (godless) enchiladas. Sasuke. She looked up to see Sasuke standing behind Sakura. HIS CLOAK BILLOWED. LIKE. That crazy son of a muffin. 3) Prince Caspian (the movie): I thought the actual movie was pretty lame and predictable. that is. "Shishou. SAKURA.

" Tsunade rolled her eyes. Sakura was a genuinely interesting and quirky person. You know. -- . Tsunade sighed and rubbed at her temples. Sakura shrugged in a casual manner. but Tsunade knew Sakura well enough to determine that Sakura would see it as "losing" Sasuke again. I can't even remember the last time you put in less than a ten-hour day. paychecks to spend. Sakura sighed. Tsunade was sincerely pleased to see her former apprentice happy. it was only 9 AM and she needed alcohol. The pair's visit left Tsunade with a lot to think about. at least subconsciously. Tsunade had both noticed and been told. "but I'm far too valuable as a medic for you to actually go through with that threat. and more of her smiles sincere. Sakura's mood was usually a bit more upbeat."No. She couldn't blame him. "Careful. My nonexistent goldfish would like to take the afternoon off. "Is that it." Sakura allowed. I would like to take the afternoon off. Because. See ya. "Yes. Thanks. but would he be as affectionate? And when the year was over and Sasuke was no longer obligated to stay with Sakura. Tsunade scowled. "I can't even remember the last time you left half an hour early—hell. as opposed to the bland ones she had often pasted on in order to hide from the world. actually. She had gotten reports from various sources that the two were very close." Tsunade said nothing. a puzzle he could work out. How often would he take the time and effort to spend time with Sakura after the year was up? And how deeply would it affect Sakura if or when that happened? It had virtually destroyed her when Sasuke left. kid. but she couldn't help but worry. that was a reference to my nonexistent goldfish." "If you say so…" Tsunade murmured slowly. then?" "Yeah. God. "Sometimes I see far too much of myself in you. Any specific reason?" she asked curiously." Sakura exited the room with Sasuke trailing nonchalantly behind her. Sasuke was a solitary individual. before adding brightly. I could have you filing papers for a month. how would that alter their relationship? It was a great transition to go from "constant companions" to "friends who encountered each other once in a while". Since Sasuke's return. when I said 'I'. you may take the afternoon off. Perhaps a month and a half ago Kakashi had mentioned to her that Sasuke seemed to regard Sakura as an object of interest. From the brief bits she'd seen and the various things she'd been told. Of course this wouldn't be nearly anything of that magnitude." "Yes. you could." "Well. What's the big deal?" Tsunade raised both of her eyebrows. Sasuke was very fond and protective of Tsunade's favorite young ninja. Shishou. "Errands to run. But what would happen when or if Sasuke grew bored with her? Tsunade now believed that Sasuke's affection was deep-rooted enough to linger if or when that happened. Yes. the say the memory is the first thing to go…" Sakura muttered under her breath.

nice to meet you. "Oh. Sasuke made a half-hearted swipe at the green-eyed girl's head but she ducked out of the way at the last moment. came to a halt in front of the stand. "And who is this strapping young lad?" the woman.That afternoon found Sasuke trailing along behind Sakura as she browsed through the herb and garden section of the market. and Sakura grinned. One merchant she greeted specifically. I'll see you later. Sasuke noticed that there were only a few jars left. and Sakura made her way back into the mainly garden-oriented part of the market. right? You've most likely used some. "Those were your balms?" Sakura blinked. She glanced behind Sakura at Sasuke. "I'm glad to know they work. dearie. Thank you for selling them. "Sure you did. "Both. You know there are chakra weapons. "This is Sasuke-kun. Sasuke-kun." Sakura informed Ryoko. and by default Sasuke. A few weapons are composed entirely of chakra. When I have spare time I crush herbs together into a balm and infuse it with healing chakra. "I'm getting thirty-five percent of the profit." Ryoko said. The woman looked up as Sakura. but most are just infused with it. "Daisies or tulips. "Hello. yeah." ." "That means 'Hello. queried. Sasuke stuck his hand back in his pocket and resumed his Portrayal of Disinterest. Ryoko cackled." Sasuke mused." the old woman said. "People pay good money for products that actually work." Sakura smiled. She eyed him." Sasuke digested this information as Sakura stopped at a flower stand. Ryoko-san!" she called to an elderly woman sitting in a chair behind a stand with a sign proclaiming: HEALING BALMS. if it isn't Sakura-chan. so there's no need to thank me." The woman waved. Nonplussed. good choice. Ryoko-san sells them for me and we split the profit. Sakura picked up a jar of healing balm and examined it with clinical interest. Ryoko. "Ah. Frowning. Sakura-chan. "Sasuke-kun and I are looking at garden supplies. Sasuke-kun?" Sasuke stared at her blankly.' in Sasuke-speak. "Your balms sell very well. Ryoko-san. say hello." Sakura instructed." Sakura shrugged and put the jar down. "Hn. who had jammed his hands in his pockets and was gazing vaguely off into the distance in as his way of communicating his lack of interest in his current location. Sasuke lengthened his stride a bit so that they were side by side and asked curiously. You can actually infuse chakra into most things." "I didn't know you could infuse chakra into things." Ryoko waved a dismissive hand. inspecting the merchandise and speaking cheerfully with the merchants. It appeared all the others had been sold. she turned to him and asked.

"And yes. Her expression solemn. Sasuke-kun will always be Sasuke-kun. keeping an eye on Sakura as she wandered. you know. a man approached them. Sasuke fell and remained silent for the duration of the shopping trip. Sasuke stopped as well and regarded her speculatively. She hired a gardener to look after it. "Sometimes you are just obscenely predictable. Sasuke scowled with no real anger and pushed his hair out of his face. who was checking the leaves of a small plant Sasuke couldn't identify. Sasuke nodded cautiously. . Sasuke approached Sakura." Sasuke glowered at her. Sasuke-kun." She broke into a wide grin and tugged on one of the short locks of hair hanging by his head before turning back to her shopping. because Sasuke stepped to the side fluidly. He just found it a bit odd that after all that she had grown and matured. loading them onto a cart. Asazuki-san. Shaking himself out of his musings. which she generously allowed Sasuke to pull." Sakura said in response to his questioning gaze. "For as long as his hair sticks up and his sentences are short. he asked. The punch never connected. I'm too old for it. sensing an unpleasant aura from the man. "Sasuke-kun. precisely. "You're Uchiha Sasuke." Seeing that he had touched upon a delicate subject. The honorific didn't bother him. "I'm too old for that." Sakura squinted at him. neatly avoiding the blow. Thinking quickly. "That wasn't my question." she said. It didn't really matter. but I'll sector off places for vegetables and flowers too. just when they were leaving the market." he lied. "Herbs are the main priority. "Have you had experience with gardening?" Sakura faltered just a bit while handing money to the attendant. "It's mint. I'm going to get tomato plants.She handed the woman running the stand a few folded bills and selected a few already grown daisies and tulips. "…Yeah. However." Sakura answered. addressing Sasuke. After a moment. Sasuke's brow furrowed." Sakura came to a complete stand-still and stared at him. The man stepped forward until he and Sasuke were as close to eye-to-eye as they could be (Sasuke was slightly taller) and took a swing uppercut to Sasuke's jaw. I played out there a lot. and the gardener. would show me how to do a lot of the stuff. she persisted in the affectionate suffix of their childhood. Sasuke opened his mouth. she should have already known. he supposed. aren't you?" he asked. it was a bit reassuring to have that small reminder of the girl Sakura had once been. "So exactly what kind of garden are you planning?" he asked. Still. now that she was so different. "My mother has a garden. but Sakura cut him off." she said in exasperation. however. He couldn't see why she was so surprised. Sakura took a long pause before replying. "Too old to pull a cart?" Sasuke shook his head distractedly.

Still. "Or upset." he said quietly. You can't tell me that you were just okay with it." Sasuke argued. You should know better than to support a bastard that betrayed his village. The encounter with the man seemed to have drained her energy and happiness. I'd still spend time with you and defend you because you're my friend. Speaking more loudly. If they have a problem with me." "You must have been angry when I left. who had watched the little scene unfold with something like weary sadness on her face. She does not tolerate uncalled-for violence. "I'm just so sick of people thinking that insulting me is going to do anything. I'm so scared. you placed the entirety of Konoha in danger. Sakura sighed and removed her hand from Sasuke's shoulder." she said wryly. "But it should. Sasuke asked coldly. "You okay?" she asked him tiredly. and I don't think that Sasuke-kun ever had any real ill-intent towards me. And besides. or Naruto." "But you're only doing that because the Hokage assigned you to. Sakura shook her head firmly. and when he was done she took his hand and led him gently onto the path that would take them home. she addressed the man. Sasuke-kun. "People don't care for technicalities." Sasuke felt compelled to point out. they have a right to be angry." she said after a moment." "Oh. traitor." she went on. Sakura listened quietly. By defecting from the village and going to Orochimaru." Still. Voicing the emotions that had been pent-up within him for months." The man sneered at her." Sasuke was about to demand that he leave Sakura out of it when Sakura laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. I'm probably not much better. girl.Eyes narrowed. "It's okay." Sakura admitted breezily. "Sasuke-kun is Sasuke-kun. I don't think you would have ever seriously hurt Naruto or me. or something. though. why don't they just leave me alone? And they have no right to take it out on you. "Of being upset and angry. he left quickly. which further fueled the mounting anger within Sasuke's chest. "You too. he hissed. or Konoha." He turned to Sakura. Throw in about as many other negative emotions as you can think of and you have my life for about the first five months after you left. "You would really hope that people were more mature. Sasuke-kun. Sasuke frowned at her. "I know. "Please leave before I report your actions to the Godaime. "Is that it." "What happened after that?" . Sakura sighed. A little thing like betrayal has no effect on friendship. even if Tsunadesama hadn't. "Rot in hell. Sasuke-kun. then?" The man spat on the ground in front of the young Uchiha. That's what I believe." she murmured softly. I mean. "Ooh. "In their eyes." "And. To be associating with and defending you must seem like treason to them. I went through phases." he scowled.

So there. Not for me. For those of you who don't know from the last chapter. . "I know. Sasuke-kun. Thank you for everything you've done up until now." Sakura intoned. I've had a terrible day.. Really. Everything Is Alright "I should probably be more surprised than I am. but Sasuke was clutching his heavily bleeding left arm.. "I guess I just realized it didn't matter—how I felt. "Anyway. I don't know who else you can blame. Anna Nalick is a totally amazing singer/songwriter. I never wanted to put you through so much trouble. Aside from a few bruises and scrapes. Just because some people were wondering. Sasuke grabbed her arm and pulled her back. I'm gonna go lie in bed and feel sorry for myself now. but don't blame me. She put her hands on her hips and stared them down. Naruto was no worse for wear. Naruto watched as Sakura set down the medical text she had been reading and approached them." Sasuke began. so that'll be it (miraculously short author's note). I'd have to actually work for it. So. People will eventually warm up to you once they realize what an utterly charming and intellectually-stimulating conversationalist you are. Sasuke-kun. I never wanted to hurt you. You can listen to them on Youtube. don't blame me." was the first thing that Sakura said when Sasuke and Naruto stumbled into the living room of the Uchiha manor. I decided that crying or sulking or brooding weren't going to have any effect and that if I really wanted to bring you back. tough ninjas care to explain to me why a simple sparring match ended in this?" she probed. I know words don't come easily to you. Emotions weren't going to bring you back." …Twerp. so if it's random and stupid and horrible. Very pretty —not that you aren't always very pretty." Sakura squeezed his hand.Sakura paused for a minute. Don't give yourself an aneurysm. "Sasuke-kun…?" "Sakura. She looked at him puzzled. "Well? Would one of you big. because you are. The two songs of hers that I like the most are Breathe (2 AM) and Paper Bag. who glowered as if he had been personally insulted. gesturing to the seriously injured Sasuke. deceptively calm. just hang in there. Sakura-chan—did I mention you look particularly pretty today? Because you do. her expression speaking of weary exasperation. Naruto rubbed the back of his neck and laughed uneasily. drenched and shivering. I'm just saying that—" "Naruto. "I…" I'm sorry. now. Sakura kissed his forehead. I wrote this chapter last night in about an hour." When they were standing outside the door to the manor and Sakura was about to open it. "Now.

and. When he emerged from the bathroom thirty minutes later. before grabbing clean clothes for Sasuke's room—completely boring clothes. but we decided to keep going anyway." she informed him disapprovingly. Just eat your ramen. "You're both soaked. he was wearing different clothes and his hair was wet. Sure enough. a towel hanging around his neck. See. if you're going to punch anyone. While Sakura was looking away Sasuke shot a smug glance at Naruto. and he just stood there. really. Sakura rolled her eyes fondly and continued to heal him. Sakura gave him a level look. "I mean it seems like you've lost weight. "Sakura!" he said indignantly. "No. except it started pouring. however." Sasuke scowled and shifted his position so that Sakura could get better access to his wound. "You'll catch a cold if you don't dry your hair properly. He heard Sakura calling Sasuke to the table and realized that Sasuke must have taken a shower in one of the other bathrooms after Sakura finished healing him." His assertion of fault fell upon uncaring ears. grinning. it really should be him. . when Sasuke walked in and sat carelessly at the table. completely zoned out. swinging her up into his arms and spinning her around three times. Naruto observed this brief exchange. "Sakura-chan. Naruto. raising his hands defensively. "has your weight changed?" Two seconds later he was reeling from the vicious uppercut she dealt him. it's like this: we were sparring and it was completely normal." Sakura murmured as she began healing Sasuke's arm. and then the bastard over there got this funny look in his eyes. the other boy would have been chanting: She like me better. he might add—and taking a long." Glad he had escaped that little scenario with only minimal damage. composed entirely of dreary colors.He blanched." He said this all in one breath. After he was finished. Sakura tugged at one of the damp locks hanging around his face. "Sasuke-kun. Naruto sat down at the table eagerly. because she too sat down at the table. in the process burying his face in her shoulder. like. "Sakura-chan…" he said slowly. "Naruto. you're the best!" Naruto exclaimed as he bounded towards to the green-eyed girl. It's all his fault. When he set the protesting girl back on her feet. and then glared at Sasuke. almost sulkily. Sakura ran a hand through his hair and was apparently sufficiently satisfied." Sakura's eye was still twitching dangerously. "Um…please don't hurt me…" She blew her bangs out of her eyes in exasperation. no!" he assured. why don't you go take a shower? And I'm sure some of Sasuke-kun's clothes would fit you. he was pleased to find Sakura setting out tea and ramen on the dining room table. she likes me better. "Er. but I didn't notice that until after I threw a couple of kunai at him. Sasuke sighed in an "I Can't Believe I Put Up With You" way and used the towel around his neck to dry his hair further. hot shower." Sasuke's eyes widened. right. refreshed and in desperate need of food. he frowned. Sakura-chan. and Naruto was sure that if Sasuke had been anyone other than Sasuke. "So. "Whatever. because Sakura was already sitting Sasuke down on the couch and inspecting his wound critically.

Sakura-chan. anyway. they all told Naruto the same thing: when they did see her. "No. "I haven't really talked to anyone recently. weak girl he had known to have changed dramatically. is she okay? Is it about Hiashi-sama? Neji? Hanabi?" Naruto shook his head. haven't you?" He had thought that Sasuke would be getting Sakura out of the hospital more. nothing like that. Just so we're all clear. "Why. When Naruto had eaten his fill for the moment. Naruto was busy stuffing food into his mouth. you've been letting her lock herself in her office all day. with her books and charts and scrolls and papers. and he knew better than to speak with his mouth full around Sakura. He learned that Sakura hadn't even known about his return. He decided not to press her about it that day. He had currently been back for about a week. He had asked around about it and found out that barely anyone had seen her recently. When he had returned to Konoha at fifteen. it scared him a little bit.They ate it in a comfortable silence for a while. "Uh." Sasuke smirked and took another sip of tea. She seemed overwhelmed and overworked. "Bastard. fiddling with her chopsticks. Sakura herself looked tired and preoccupied. but Sakura beat him to it. However." she said evasively. Sakura. with permanent shadows under her eyes. I've just been busy lately. away from the world." Sakura shrugged noncommittally. You know that the Hyuuga elders are considering finding a new heir if Hinata-chan doesn't live up to their expectations when the ambassador from Amegakure. She was tired constantly. Frankly. no. Naruto had been out of the village almost constantly in the past couple of months." Sakura's eyes snapped up instantly. he had found the young. "It's not Sasuke-kun's fault. Naruto glared at the other boy. and had been startled when Sakura wasn't there to greet him at the gates. that's not it. He had spoken to Tsunade about it. taking most everything in stride and always ready to lend a helping hand. having shut herself in her office. and. Sasuke was Sasuke. she looked pale and thin and tired. said absently. Naruto noticed." Naruto stared back at her. I'm not getting up to give you the Heimlich. but he was definitely going to talk to her about it some other time. and the Hokage had told him that Sakura had indeed bitten off more . She had been calm and pragmatic and competent. as Naruto noticed himself. well. he looked at the young medic sitting across from him and cleared his throat." She said that last bit in an almost defensive way. Naruto glared accusingly at Sasuke. if you're choking. "Naruto. I wish people would stop going on at me about it. The girl that had been waiting for him had been self-assured and talented and ready to take on the world. And I haven't been locking myself in my office. right?" Sakura stared at him blankly. Sasuke glared back at him and made to retort. stressed and pressured. Now it seemed she was changing again. I was actually wondering if sometime this week you could talk to Hinata-chan. "Seriously? Everyone's talking about it. unless they had been in the hospital getting healed by her. okay? That's it. "Uh.

She waved a hand dismissively. he nestled his own head on her shoulder. He fervently hoped that wouldn't be the case this time. Sakura-chan. Unfortunately. By getting all worked up over it. "Er. "If you fall asleep and drool on me. but grudgingly shifted to leave room for her. Would you mind talking to her? The thing with the elders is really worrying her and stressing her out. "Naruto. but I'll give it a shot. Figuring that it was best to wait out the rain before leaving for his apartment. Naruto thought. Sakura-chan. Hinata was setting herself up for failure." Sasuke looked superbly irritated by her interruption of his nap." Naruto told her. Sakura had a way of relieving people from their troubles." "That's all I ask. will you?" Naruto asked. of putting them at ease. you. "Of course I will. Naruto followed suit. Sasuke's eyes snapped open to glare balefully at him. Sakura returned from her room a minute later and poked him. though. Immediately. Honestly. "I'm not really sure what I can say to her. and I think talking to you would help her. because as soon as she was settled he rested his head on her shoulder." "Your dear Sakura-chan is going to slug the both of you if you don't shut up while she's working. both in the hospital and in her work outside of it. would you care to join us back in the world of the sentient now?" He blinked. what were you saying about Hinata?" she queried while gathering up the dirty dishes and putting them in the sink. the Godaime had assured him that in time Sakura would realize just how much was too much and lighten her workload herself. "Nope. it was quite frequently at the price of Sakura taking those troubles as her own. sorry.than she could chew. It seemed that time had not come. I took the day off to spend time with my dear Sakura-chan. "Shove over. much as he had done while she was healing his arm. "So. the one Sasuke wasn't occupying. So. Yawning widely. looking for all the world like a small child curled up beside his mother. handing some dishes to Sakura. Sasuke rose to assist her." he apologized awkwardly." Sakura assured him sincerely." Sakura warned. I'll kill you. and Naruto refused to let her self-destruct. but otherwise left him to his own devices as she started writing something. She sat down. Sakura went to her room to get something and Sasuke lay down on the couch and closed his eyes. Sasuke made a disgruntled noise in the back of his throat and closed his eyes once again. He approached the pair on the couch and sat down on Sakura's left side. don't you have somewhere to be?" Naruto stuck his tongue out at him. However. Naruto decided to have a little bit of fun by pushing Sasuke's buttons. . When they were done with the dishes. Naruto was broken out of his thoughts by Sakura's voice. and Naruto deduced that Sasuke couldn't be too angry at her. but he felt it was necessary." the girl threatened. "Idiot. he felt bad about asking her to do this when she was already so busy. "Oh! Yeah.

" Sakura made a face and kissed his cheek. either. "Kirigakure. Sakura rolled her eyes at him. something trivial like a rash wasn't consequential for her. He entered her bedroom and gently picked the girl up and carried her to her bed. Sakura was a medic. "Remember to bring me back a souvenir. Naruto. . "See you. Sakura-chan. worriedly.Around an hour and a half later the rain ceased and Naruto deemed it time to go home." Sakura considered this. As he did so. arranging her errant limbs meticulously and pulling the covers up to her chin. "Bastard. he mused upon what could have caused it. he noticed a bright red rash trailing up the length of Sakura's arm." Sasuke instructed flatly. but she was grinning. leaving a sullen Sasuke with nowhere to rest his head. He pushed aside his concerns. Sakura stood as well. I think. Sakura hugged him. Frowning. Sakura got the message and let it drop. about your clothes —" "Don't return them. Guilt weighed heavily upon his chest. Sakura hadn't mentioned being allergic to anything. "Sakura-chan. -That night. He had gotten caught up in thinking about what Sakura had said to him that day in the attic. which he knew she detested. when Sasuke glanced into Sakura's room to see if she had fallen asleep at her desk— a habit of his now—he was dismayed but not surprised to see that she had. "Do you know where your next mission is?" He returned her embrace. he couldn't help but worry about her." Naruto laughed and ruffled her hair. being that careless was completely unacceptable and he fully intended not to let it happen again. Still." Naruto returned." Sakura nodded. He sighed and stood up. you can't be serious! They're sending me to such a messedup hellhole. but Sasuke caught her looking at him speculatively. Still. "So Naruto said that you 'zoned out' while sparring. "One severed head it is. "Stop being so dramatic." Sasuke shrugged. "Cool. stretching his legs. Burn them. before turning to Sasuke." Naruto feigned hurt. which had happened to him periodically. Sakura looked at Sasuke and asked cautiously. And he didn't want to talk about it." -After Naruto left." "Bye.

.. ALSO. I don't want him to wear it because Akatsuki is evil and Sasuke is digging himself deeper by joining them. you're being dramatic.So. THAT I DON'T CARE IF HE'S TWENTY-SIX... Again. And no. HE'S BEN BARNES AND HE'S HOT AND HE'S AWESOME AND YOU NEED TO SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP. 4) I want to encourage my fellow SasuSaku fans to have faith in these dark times. and I'd just like to say. cutting him off yet again. Yugh. though. "Why are you making a big deal out of this? I thought you'd be glad to get me out of your—spiky. True love will prevail! . It was cool. I know you're reading this. feeling indignant and betrayed and why didn't she feel bad about this? She sighed and adjusted the messenger-bag on her shoulder. "you cannot come with me. I saw a moose once.. Unrelated: 1) Dating is Not Fun. once and for all. "Antics? I—" "Am going to stay here like a good little criminal.well. As if braces weren't enough. So it's all good. we can all pretend it does and write fanfics about it. Okay?" Sasuke stiffened." she said. I have no excuse. I mean. I am now fourteen." so I have to wear an elastic on one side of my mouth. Sorry if Naruto seems OOC.And if it doesn't. "Sasuke-kun.. And I know this is a total filler. Some parts are important. And he's in a relationship with Hinata.yeah. Naruto's just coming so that I don't violate the terms of your parole or whatever you want to call it. Sasuke crossed and uncrossed his arms." Sakura finished for him. because almost every time we go over there you find Neji and start glaring at him.S.hi? Erm. I'll only be gone for a few hours to check on Hiashi-sama and talk to Hinata." She frowned at him.." Sakura rolled her eyes. yeah.. Bite me. offended on a deep and personal level. I will not get over it. and I really don't feel like dealing with your antics today. So there. P. MORGAN.No.. (AND. "Not if you're leaving Naruto to watch me. I can never write Naruto well when he's being serious. cutting him off. 2) Apparently my mouth is "non-symmetrical. but still. in case I didn't make that clear. .) Everything Is Alright "Sakura. . Think what you will. 3) SPOILER: You read chapter 308 yet? Sasuke is looking DAMN FINE in that cloak. which I probably didn't. this is crap. I am now officially old enough to--! . yet again. you can't be serious.. Shut up. I actually turned fourteen a while ago but forgot to mention it. Eheheh. HAH.To.. Anyway. that he's your best friend? Your teammate? Your comrade? Your brother in all but blood? Your fellow human bei—" "Now who's being dramatic?" Sasuke interjected smugly. chicken-resembling—hair for a few hours. "Need I remind you. I learned that tonight. You're leaving the idiot to baby-sit me?" Sasuke glared sourly at the green-eyed girl facing him.. speculative and confused.

" Naruto repeated dully. "Sasuke-kun. you should at least have the decency to come up with your own lame excuses. There was this—" "Save it. looking for all the world like an abandoned. you'll behave for Naruto. "Shut up. Sakura-chan. but found himself interrupted once again. Naruto suggested that they strip down to their boxers and sit on the couch while scratching themselves as "quality male bonding." "But Sakur—" Naruto attempted to protest. Sakura moaned when she saw his expression." she exhaled resignedly. Still. Sasuke shifted so that her head was tucked under his chin. Sakura-chan. "Come back soon. "Good. She grinned and offered them a small wave." Naruto (along with his incredible. but otherwise made no move to return her embrace. yes?" Her eyes gleamed wickedly. panting. fully aware that anything he said at this point would get him nowhere with her. -The events following progressed as such: as soon as Sakura was out of sight. He bent over." he demanded of Sakura bleakly as he tapped his fist to her forehead. stop that!" When his facial expression didn't flicker in the slightest. racing up the steps to where his two (former?) teammates stood. Their . where Naruto was supposed to meet them." Sasuke eyed Naruto darkly. her gesture of affection appeased him to some degree. He glowered at her without feeling. almost comic book-like timing) showed up at that moment. staring down the walk that led to the Uchiha manor. understand?" "Yes. desolate child. "See you. which soon turned into a sparring match.She stuck her tongue out at him. Really. Sasuke immediately became sullen again. Naruto. Naruto sighed in defeat. staring at her. enjoying Sasuke's unfortunate and unseemly situation. "Yes. if you're going to adopt Sensei's habit of being late. Naruto should be here pretty soon…" she muttered. guys. I expect the manor to still be standing and the two of you lacking any broken bones when I get back. After a few moments Sakura pulled away from him and stepped back a foot. Sakura-chan. "Sorry I'm late. "Stay here with Sasuke-kun and make sure he doesn't rape or pillage or plunder or make rude gestures or whatever it is the Council is worried about. she sighed and stepped forward to wrap her arms around his torso and press her face into his chest. He inhaled her now-familiar scent and relaxed into the contours of her body. "Sasuke-kun. "Anyway." Sasuke promptly punched him. "No doubt you're going to use one of Kakashi-sensei's excuses." She gave him a sunny smile and a peck on the cheek. Okay?" She tapped her foot expectantly.

"Hey. Naruto imparted with Sasuke an incredibly long-winded account of an incident involving Shizune's pet pig and a deceptive all-expenses-paid trip to the ramen stand with Kakashi. Naruto decided to head off disaster. and in a much warmer. Neji. and Sasuke really did remember why his bond with the blond was so strong. they just lied in silence for a while. Sakura. Not that he'd ever admit it." she replied. "Sasuke. "Hey. Neji walked beside her. Neji returned Sasuke's look with one of contempt and dislike. less than a foot separating the pair. "Goodbye." Sasuke shrugged noncommittally. frowning slightly as if this displeased her in some way. Sasuke shot to his feet and stalked towards the two. "Bye. greeted the blond boy as well. When the two males disappeared from sight. but agreed to let the subject drop as she gazed thoughtfully at the path winding into the trees that they were standing near. Let's go see. friendlier tone. It was Naruto that called out. "What was that all about. "It's nothing. and at one point Neji laid his hand on Sakura's shoulder. I guess. Her movement reminded Sasuke that his hand was still on her shoulder. however. Naruto following him a beat later. Her expression settled back into friendly and relaxed a moment later." She clearly didn't believe him. Sasuke placed his hand exactly where Neji's hand had been on her shoulder to reassure her wordlessly. Sakura turned slightly so that she could see his face. "Neji offered to walk me back. They were talking amiably." she explained. but it got really weird for a while. he felt her tense muscles relax considerably as the young medic was soothed by his presence and silent support. with you and Neji? I know you guys don't like each other.spar lasted for two hours. and after Sasuke made one or two snarky and derogatory comments. Neji! What're you doing here?" Sakura answered him. and exhaled sharply." He turned to face Sakura fully. Sakura regarded him carefully. "Alright. He turned to Naruto. Neji. having noticed their unfriendly exchange of looks. Sakura returned about three and a half hours after she left—only she wasn't alone. puzzled and unnerved by the atmosphere. there. not even to Sakura. however. from where he glared at Neji over Sakura's head. When it was finished. Naruto's eyes flicked back and forth between Sasuke and Neji. after which the two fairly evenly matched opponents dropped to lie on the grass. Indeed. which was both hostile and awkward in parts. Sasuke stopped his irate march when he was standing right behind her." Neji glanced at Sakura. "Hey. and her gaze flickered between all three of the boys surrounding her. I'll see you soon?" "Uh. then at Sasuke. Forget about it. He removed it and shoved both of his hands in his pockets. do you want to go on a walk?" ." The pale-eyed boy directed a stiff nod to Sasuke before setting off with Naruto after the blue-eyed boy hugged Sakura quickly and punched Sasuke in the shoulder. It had all gone (literally) over Sakura's head." Neji greeted coldly. I think Tsunade-baachan has some new information on our mission to Kirigakure.

Her response was a small smile. "You okay?" She blinked. now he belongs to Hinata." She smiled at him." "Get one for yourself. so he snatched the proffered jacket from her grasp and shrugged it on silently. silent once again. I guess. but it didn't stop Sakura from hopping up and using the wall as her own personal path. "I mean. the larger. He didn't interrupt her. "You'll catch me. I think it's going to get colder soon. pleased. You know?" . Us. When I say you need a jacket. "And I feel…I don't know. "It's nothing. His behavior didn't seem to offend her and she led him down the path in a relatively good mood. you're taught to trust our teammates. even thought he knew that if Sakura wanted to go somewhere. Sasuke eyed the slippery puddles she was navigating without even looking at them." he cautioned her. her own jacket on and concealing the rash he had noticed the night before." Her voice was interlaced with such absolute confidence and conviction that he didn't reply—because it was true. The top of it was slicked with water. Sasuke rolled his eyes in annoyance but couldn't find it in himself to argue with her. "I thought…I always thought that if Naruto—if someone like Naruto could ever belong to anyone. she had posed it as optional. isn't it? How. but still. Sasuke kept his face studiously devoid of emotion. she marched into the manor and returned with two light jackets—the smaller." With that said." Her eyes darted to Sasuke's face as if gauging his reaction to her admission. wasn't it? Like hell he would let her fall and hurt herself. Upon landing. I know it's stupid and petty and juvenile of me. however. black one Sasuke's. actually. I'm a medic. he had no choice. you need a jacket. She frowned at him and crossed her arms.Sasuke hesitated. And so they walked along. Kind of abandoned. But now. After they'd been walking for a few minutes. They walked in silence for a while until they came upon a small pond encircled by a low stone wall meant to discourage anyone from falling in. "You're going to slip and fall. He decided it was better not to say anything for the moment (which really was his defense mechanism). "Cool—let's go inside and get jackets first. jarred from her thoughts. she began thoughtfully. to rely on them and cooperate with them seamlessly until—until you're something more than three people working together. he wasn't sure what to make of what she had told him—much like most of what she told him." She frowned again and shifted her weight uncomfortably. he noticed the signs he had come to recognize as when she lapsed into deep thought: her blank expression and slightly glazed eyes. as Sasuke kept an eye on her until they reached the end of the pond and she had to jump down lightly. before she shrugged and bit her lip. he'd belong to you and me. "…Sure. but it eventually became apparent that her thoughts were troubling her. I'm fine. dark green one hers. "It's weird. It's just…" she frowned and tried again. Still. Sasuke deliberated before asking flatly. in the Academy and in our Genin squads. though. Truth be told. That's how I feel. "Sasuke-kun." Sasuke informed her casually." She added quickly.

So.." she finished softly. if they relied on each other like that. just tell me.. Sasuke lowered his head for her. Sakura forged onward bravely. yes. "I don't think any team would ever be able to work as well as they had when they were that first team. Really. because I don't think…" her voice dropped to a whisper. her hand warm in his.. generally uneventful process.. "I'm not trying to tell you anything.. that first team…that first team. So bear with me. Only when Sasuke was beginning to realize that he was actually glad she had insisted he take a jacket did it dawn on him that it was the first time Sakura had referred to the Uchiha manor as "home." he said irritably.? Some of you have mentioned how this story. I'll tell you all now that this story isn't going to have much action in it. and he wasn't sure if it was guilt or something else. Sasuke-kun. and eventful. I'll try. And it's mostly about. This resulted in a smile of hers that was equally slow and equally soft. about Sakura and Sasuke bonding. or…" she hesitated and glanced at him sidelong before looking away quickly. They had both stopped walking. and she closed the distance between them and placed her hand in his. I know. but he knew that it hurt and that her pained look had caused it. although now her words came out as halting and disjointed." She looked like she wanted to continue. yeah." Her words were sincere and warm and dispelled the painful ache in his chest. softly. She flinched. and at that moment he wished he could giver her that same contentment as well. because then…" she appeared to lose her train of thought. This tender. but stopped herself. hypothetical scenarios and the way they caused him to ache. events. He nodded once. her own clear and lovely and green. "I…" She took a shaky.well.well. isn't it? I mean. "Or one of them leaves. I know." she bade quietly. Unrelated: . but regained it quickly. I love you guys. "Let's go home. "I'm glad you're home. hand in hand. Unsure of how to respond. which in my mind is a slow. tremulous breath and looked straight in his eyes. or is disabled. and the latest chapters in particular. stroke her hair once. Sasuke immediately felt a sharp pang somewhere in his chest. familiar gesture always instilled a sense of calm and contentment in Sasuke.. Sasuke grew weary of her general.Sasuke didn't reply... what about what happens when something happens to one of your teammates? What happens when someone dies. Um. "Because then. (dies) No excuse for the lateness. and so they turned around and walked back to the manor. In the future I'll try to make it more interesting and humorous and. this is nauseatingly fluffy. I figured I'd try to make apologies somehow. Not really. He settled for reaching across his body with his free hand to slowly." . It's just that I…" she clenched her fists and swallowed harshly. hoping she couldn't tell what he was feeling. a ritual now for the both of them. what if something happens to one of them? Because. Sasuke-kun. "Sakura. Just thought you all should know. okay? Don't judge me. "Isn't it…don't you think it would make more sensenot to have teams rely on each other so heavily? I mean. and she stood on her tiptoes to kiss his forehead. sometimes arduous. but she wasn't discouraged. are decidedly lacking in. but…but again. I was away from home for at least two weeks. they'd function better. if you're trying to tell me something. "But that's setting you up for disaster.

Mostly he told her about his mother. and Sasuke knew that it was okay. He had located her in a room in the west wing of the manor. "Sakura. She didn't pity him. I tell you. She sat there. Still. a relationship that was sometimes soft glances and murmured words. But it was always. . and Sasuke had done a routine sweep of the house for her chakra-signature—really nothing more than a habit that calmed the small part of his subconscious that felt just slightly uneasy when he wasn't exactly sure of her whereabouts. losers. I mean. Whatever it was. Maybe it was because Sasuke had realized that he was glad he was home. to tell her things. and she would accept it — accept him. she didn't judge him. She didn't try to pat his back or console him. self-conscious sentences. always enough. It was mid-afternoon. She was in his parents' bedroom. and afterwards she kissed his forehead and smiled softly at him. How she had always smiled at him and welcomed him home when he had entered the manor. Sasuke's cloak-ed-y thing looks like a PONCHO.. He stalked towards her and grabbed her arm. to really talk to her. a few days after their walk. sometimes bright eyes and rapid-fire bantering. Anyway. disjointed.stupid new-fangled technological whatnot. listening quietly. that knowledge—that was enough. BUT I STILL WANNA READ THE FRIGGING BOOK. Lucky.. That was more than he had hoped for since he was eight. Sasuke reflected on this and realized that he felt like he could tell her everything. unedited and uncensored and sincere. It's a conspiracy. Shut up. (runs around in circles) 2) I assume most of you have read Breaking Dawn. -"What are you doing in here?" Sakura turned around. could rant and rave and complain about everything he could possibly think of. 3) Do any of you understand this "Reader Traffic" thing? I've never been too good with graphs. And that. where he never went and where he told her not to go. as tight as he could without bruising her (she bruised easily these days. Maybe it was because Sakura had let her thoughts and feelings pour out. I can read. I tried to buy it today BUT THEY WOULDN'T LET ME BECAUSE I DIDN'T RESERVE IT.um. he told her about how she had hummed and sung to him when he hadn't been able to sleep. How she had ruffled his hair and kissed his scrapes and encouraged him to read. They were closer. And so they coexisted peacefully. I hate the initial premise and most of the characters in that series. How she had taught him how to mold rice-balls. just a little bit. and it would appear a lot of you aren't from the US.. He found it just that much easier to talk to Sakura. I was so tempted to just jump over the counter and grab one of the reserved copies.. cringing at his accusatory growl. something in the relationship between Sasuke and Sakura changed. it shifted something in Sasuke.1) I get it now." he hissed when she didn't answer him. ne observed in a detached part of his mind). someone help me? Everything Is Alright After their walk. When he told Sakura this. In halting. too.

he knew Sakura well enough to know that if he wanted her out of the room while he figured out just what was down there. they saw that it was a wooden chest." she mumbled into his shoulder. Sasuke actually found this to be somewhat comforting as he cautiously reached down into the darkness. she flinched." she said quietly. Sasuke discovered that. "I shouldn't have gone nosing around where you didn't want me to. Both her voice and eyes were earnest. as always. He felt around for a while until he found a good spot to pry it up. A lot of it. "It doesn't matter. His apprehension mounting." Sasuke muttered. The lock was old and rusting. and again considered sending her from the room. and he briefly contemplated dismissing her from the room in case whatever it was below wasn't…pleasant. soothed him. and Sakura sneezed before asking curiously. Sakura perched her chin in the crook of his neck and read over his shoulder. The room was completely bare—Sasuke had had all the furniture." he muttered. slightly yellowed with age. His sharp eyesight detected a moderately sized object in the gloom. Sasuke released the breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. And again. so it was no problem for Sasuke to force it open. he mused darkly. And there would be a lot of kicking and screaming involved. etc. Pushing at it lightly with his fingertips. "What do you think is in it…?" "Guess we'll find out. Sasuke knew immediately that she was telling the truth. "Let's just get out of here. She didn't know that just being in here hurt him.Even though his grip was loose. however many years ago. "Yeah. Her voice was soft. and her presence. He shifted his weight and extracted it carefully. there was the fact that he'd have to carry her out and tie her up somewhere. Inside the chest were papers. no. It gave with surprisingly little resistance. Sasuke extracted them to read. whatever it was down there. but he was feeling apprehensive as to the contents of the chest." He loosened his grip on her arm completely to slide his hand up to her shoulder. "I just wanted to know what this room was. and Sasuke was able to set the entire plank aside and see into the dark space below. and he was sure that if she had known." Sakura nodded morosely and he propelled her gently by the shoulders to the door—until he set his foot down on one of the planks in the wooden flooring and felt it give a little. removed—but if you looked closely you could still tell where there had been a bed. . Immediately wary. she never would have come. a dresser. When it was finally in the light. "This was your parents' bedroom. everything. he'd have to physically remove her. He surrender the notion quickly. His arms were just long enough from him to feel a small wooden box-like thing. Slowly she raised her gaze until she met his eyes." "I'm sorry I upset you by coming in here. So. but decided against it a second time. and this was Sakura. A thick film of the dust that Sasuke had disturbed hovered around them. it had been pried up and never bolted back into place. anyway. his other hand resting on her opposite shoulder. Sasuke shoved her lightly away from the loose floor-board and knelt to assess it. wasn't it?" She always was too smart for her own good. By this time Sakura was kneeling at his side. they would find out together. wondering if they had been part of his mother's diary or something. It was hard to admit it to himself.

and he knew that he would regret his harsh handling of her later. and the last date was the day before his family was killed. But they never did. The Uchihas' first plan was to ferret out the disloyal one and then strike before the Hokage and the Elders could. "Is it true?" Tsunade opened and closed her mouth. Sakura. "Sasuke. He slammed a fist down on her desk. but it always came down to this: the Uchiha clan had been planning a coup. They were all murdered. "Sasuke-kun. though…" she hesitated. begging him to slow down and tell her what he was doing. "This would have been during the Sandaime's term…he's dead. to the heart of Konoha's power— apparently to strong a link. And then he ran with her. but certain words stood out: Uchiha and military coup and Elders and suspected treachery. because he betrayed them in favor of siding with the Council. And it all made horrible. Apparently his clan had been discontent with their diminishing power and had planned to take it by force. On the Council's orders? Suddenly he had to know." Sasuke answered curtly. though…and it's not like someone would plant these papers there…" she was mostly talking to herself now. what are you—" "We're going. Sakura tugged at his arm. The tiny portion of his mind that was not thoroughly incensed was horrified that she was in such discomfort because of him. They were climbing the stairs and bursting into the Godaime's office in record time. The first time he looked at the papers. he couldn't manage to read it word-for-word. He felt her stumbling and tripping behind him. Sakura? What—" Sasuke shoved the papers at her. So he killed them. Tsunade stared at him. directly to the Hokage Tower. "I'd never heard anything about this…they seem authentic. Dazedly Sasuke noticed that they were dated. precise lettering. blurring most of his coherent thought but an overwhelming need to know thetruth. grabbing her hand. He scanned the pages at least ten times. but he had to know. Itachi was the traitor. "The only people I can imagine who would know about this —if this is real are the ." he hissed. Here it all was. Sasuke watched as shock took over her features while Sakura leaned on him and regained her breath. sickening sense to him: Itachi. A terrifying numbness was setting in. at the papers he had thrust into her hand. clutching the damnatory papers and walking towards the door. "Read those. He remembered his father discussing how Itachi was the Uchihas' link to ANBU. He could feel Sakura breathing shallowly against his neck and felt that he should reassure her in some way. However. A need to know if his goal for the past eleven years had all been misguided. and he rubbed her back methodically without taking his eyes of the Hokage. Tsunade's head shot up from where she had been bent over paperwork." he told her mechanically. He felt himself rising to his feet. "Where…where did you find these?" "Under a floorboard in my parents' room. at the end it appeared that they suspected a traitor in their ranks had informed the Elders of the Council and the Hokage of their plans and were expecting the Konoha higher-ups to act against them. Tsunade's voice was almost hoarse when she spoke. He dragged her out of the and into the streets. strategized and planned out. in his father's handwriting.The words were handwritten in what Sasuke recognized as his father's neat. but all he was able to do was re-read it fully this time.

making his head ache and his stomach churn. Damn it. then. Sakura behind him. breathing heavily. but proceeded to tell him that she knew the access code to get into the Elders' former study. we'll come back tomorrow. Shishou." "Tomorrow?" Sasuke hissed disbelievingly. It was true. None of this was supposed to be true. Everything Sasuke had ever known. everything he had ever believed was a lie. but Sakura stepped in front of Sasuke and cut her off. What did this mean. He had killed Itachi." With those eloquent parting words. what should we do?" Sakura asked her guardedly. He nodded stiffly. Itachi wasn't supposed to have reasons for murdering his family. "You expect me to wait until tomorrow? I want to know what's going on and I want to know now!" he demanded. "Okay. almost hyperventilating. "Don't tell anyone about this. first of all. almost brooded. as Sasuke and Sakura watched her pensively." Tsunade ordered. She had regained her breath. She had a plan." he ordered. "So?" Sasuke asked Sakura as soon as they had closed the door. Sasuke regarded her carefully. "Whatever. goddammit. . Sasuke doubled over from the combined pain of his rebelling stomach and throbbing head. "I'll go through their old records tomorrow.Elders. -Damn it. And he had delivered. then? That Itachi had been a good person from the start. endless questions plagued him. Sasuke was curled up against the side of his bed. he exited the room. He was supposed to have been twisted and insane. That should have been the end of it. Sasuke beat his fists against the floor. where they kept their records." she decided. "Shishou." She turned her head so that Tsunade couldn't see and mouthed Go along with it to Sasuke. it was all true. "And I'll let you know tomorrow if I find anything in the Elders' records. "Show me. and her hand was on Sasuke's arm in a protective manner. and noticed out of the corner of his eye that Sakura was standing in the doorway to his room her expression an awful mix of grief and distress. why? None of this was supposed to happen. She hesitated. Tsunade made as if to yell at him. seen the horrible truth all spelled out into impersonal text: Itachi had betrayed the Uchiha clan. Sasuke narrowed his eyes in anticipation. That was how it was—…how Sasuke had thought it was. The Elders had ordered a mass-slaughter." She contemplated. Why. had only done what he did for the sake of Konoha? Then why had he left the village? Why had he joined Akatsuki? Why had he tried to kill Sasuke in the past? Why had he tried to take his eyes? Why had no one ever explained this to Sasuke? Doubt and uncertainty and confusion and endless. and they passed away less than a year ago. He and Sakura had read the records. Damn it. Oh god. Finally. why.

"Get out of here. of being the one to hurt her. Go back to your room. He would have gone on believing that Itachi was evil and that his death was vengeance. buried his face in her hair. Sakura. desperate and terrified of letting her get hurt. providing him with a soothing rocking motion. More will be . Um. He stiffened. Silently. and fell asleep. so I just kept writing and writing and writing and. "Leave me alone. Sakura. Sakura tightened her arms around him and shifted her weight back and forth. Sakura was holding him and he knew that she was afraid and upset. He moved around a bit until his head rested on her shoulder and his hands engulfed one of hers. "Sasuke-kun. Mom." she whispered. Sakura had to leave in case he lost it completely. but it all came out in some giant big blob of word-vomit. Sakura was here. and Sasuke knew that if Sakura was there to hold him through the night. You see. She crooned to him and kissed his forehead and stroked his hair. He would kill her." he hissed. but it left him exhausted. he tried to clamp down on the Cursed Seal that was sluggishly spreading across his body. he thought.. This was her fault." he snarled at her. (cringes) I'm sorry. but she had come to him when he had told her not to and—and he knew that she wouldn't leave him. Horrified and shaken to the core. "Stay away from me. "Sasuke-kun. Content and peaceful." And so he cried. He—he had just thought of killing Sakura.this happened. snap her tiny neck and watch her greengreengreen eyes fade and dull and—Sasuke physically reeled when he caught up to his runaway thoughts. the same song his mother had hummed to him when he couldn't sleep. because everything was messed up and he felt so helpless and confused and like he'd lost his family all over again. If she hadn't gone in there. he cried into her hair. before leaning forward and wrapping her arms around his shaking frame. where he was still curled against the side of the bed. that Sasuke had not killed an innocent man—his innocent brother. He only cried for a maximum of five minutes." She paid him no heed and drifted even closer. but he was struggling. the product of his activating Cursed Seal.Sakura. He would kill her.. had actually done what he'd told her to for once. Sasuke allowed his eyelids to droop as Sakura started humming to him—humming the same song she had played on the piano for him. She had moved closer until she was only a few feet away from him. I'm really sorry this is so random and abrupt and rushed and out-of-nowhere. he never would have discovered the floorboard or the chest or those damn. He couldn't ever remember being so glad that she hadn't listened to him. everything would be okay eventually. Sakura— Sakura. and I really wanted to get it over with. and tentatively brushed his fingers over her cheekbone." she murmured. justice. but immediately upon contact with her skin the Cursed Seal receded until it was dormant once again. Now she was kneeling in front of him. damn papers—and this terrible truth would never have been brought to life. He relaxed into her arms. "Sasuke-kun.

Ho'yeah. she was only dozing. He shifted his head slightly so that he could see her face. "Am I okay?" he repeated. but not closed. maybe I'm the only one with an overactive yet predictable imagination. Sasuke thought. (shakes fist at Kishi and his twisted imagination that came up with armbiting jutsus) Everything Is Alright Sakura. and when he opened his eyes. "Sasuke-kun…?" she murmured. her eyelashes created shadows beneath her eyes.explained about this in the next chapter. along with her pulse. her voice hoarse. not sleeping. Sakura opened her eyes fully. He was partially in her lap. uh. his eyelashes brushed the smooth skin of her neck. Of course. One of his hands still gripped hers. Her eyelids were lowered.. heavier body had been crushing the lungs and rib-cage of her smaller frame all night. "Are you okay?" He gaped at her disbelievingly. It didn't appear as if she had noticed that he woke up. She was still holding him. Judging by this. How could he have been so self-centered and stupid? Sakura regarded his pained and seething expression blankly. so easy to just close his eyes and go back to sleep. over the skin that was already shadowed from lack of sleep.. sweet-smelling hair tickled his face. He had almost convinced himself when he noticed something: she was breathing shallowly—very shallowly.blast. Alarmed. not mentioning the suckyness of this chapter would be appreciated. His larger. if only for a few more minutes.No? Okay. Kudos! Unrelated: 1) The Eight-Tails: Pimping the Naruto!verse since chapter 408. he immediately detached himself from her. 2) Karin. and it would be so. A wing of her soft. when in fact he had first encountered her at the Academy and had only truly noticed her when they were placed on the same team. still groggy. Her warmth and her scent were so familiar and distinctly identifiable to him that he felt like he had known her his entire life.. upset and incredulous. Grr. and his head rested on her shoulder. Basically. Really. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt so well-rested and at ease. Sasuke hissed when he figured it out. disturbed by his sudden movement. but the other clutched at her shirt. This was dedicated to Missa. Whore. moving so that he was no longer on top of her in any way. who gave me the idea to use this idea (and I feel bad because I wrote it horribly). the majority of EIS would still be bereft of a concrete plot if not for her.. in the very moment that he regained some semblance of consciousness the next morning. "I've been crushing you all night! Were you even able to sleep at all?" . But who thought there were family jewels in the chest? Anyone? Anyone? . so.

She made as if to get up. but abruptly switched her tactic. Horror-struck by his own selfishness and idiocy. he fixed her with the evil eye. held her down and turned her around so that her back was facing him. he saw the beginnings of a horrific. if need be. I'm fine." Her compassion had him torn between wanting to slap her and hug her. she was still out of it." he muttered darkly. scooped her up into his arms." She stroked his hair. As it was." Sasuke assured her. most obvious question there was." "No. she tried to stand up again." Sasuke disagreed firmly. "It would have woken you up. Sasuke-kun. Sure enough. she would have lied to him and said that she had been able to sleep. Sasuke-kun. Wincing. I'm not kidding! Lemme go!" She tried to kick him. "And I am going to work. either. You're staying home and sleeping. but to no avail. she said. I'm sorry. mottled bruise a bit above the small of her back. "And you're not going to work today. and the bruise on her back matched a place where the bed-posted curved outward in the design of a vine. Looking up at him seriously. "I really want to go to work today. shifting her sitting position. concerned and suspicious. "I said I'm fine! Why won't you ever believe me?" Sasuke. when suddenly she flinched forward as if someone had tried to stab her in the back." she yawned. one arm sliding around her back and the other folding under her knees. and. "Sakura. she muttered mutinously. and I demand that you put me down! Sasuke-kun. but Sasuke." "You're always difficult. I'm being difficult. he resisted the strong urge to beat his head against the wall. indignant. "S'okay. her back had been pressed to one of the bed-posts. Bouncing on the mattress slightly from impact. "Why didn't you move?" he demanded of her. Sakura opened her mouth as if to yell at him." "No. Sakura blinked at him as if he'd just asked the stupidest. "No. Sasuke let her shirt slide down once again to look at where Sakura had been sitting all night. "Stop freaking out.Sasuke knew Sakura well enough to know that if her thoughts had been more coherent." he whispered. so she answered him honestly. "Because you're either lying or our ideas of 'fine' vary greatly. "And right now. "It is not! I'm in charge of you. She glared up at him balefully. "'M not freaking out." She struggled in his arms. you're not. you're not. shrugging. ready to physically prevent her from bolting to the hospital." he ordered her as he entered her room and deposited her on the bed. "Sorry. my idea of 'fine' is the one that counts." he informed her as he carried her to her bedroom." She stared at him." She paused for effect. Carefully peeling up her shirt a bit. He slowly bent forward so that his face was pressed to her collar-bone. upon straightening. "It .

For me?" …Damn. not once. Sasuke-kun?" She maintained eye-contact with him the entire time. worrying about him (because he was sure she was. and…twitched. Sakura finally managed a smile. as he had learned from past experience). Sakura-san!" Sakura and Sasuke slowed their pace on their walk to the hospital as the ever-exuberant Lee came bounding towards them. Sasuke-kun. So the loser wasn't good enough for an S-rank? He couldn't say he was surprised. as he had done all morning in an effort to avoid thinking of Itachi and the Uchiha and the whole sorry mess. and affected and expression of mild surprise. "Sure. . not allowing him to look anywhere but into her green eyes. beamed. lovely pieces if he touched her. Sasuke wanted to tell her to stop worrying. So he didn't. -"Good morning. Sasuke had to turn his head to avoid being blinded by Lee's ridiculously shiny teeth). "Where are you off to?" He fell into stride beside her after nodding cheerfully to Sasuke. He sighed. He observed how she shifted the strap of her messenger-bag constantly. until it lost all color. "That's great.would make me really happy. her eyes wide and clear and bright." She reached up to tug lightly on his sleeve. But only for a little while. Sasuke looked down at Sakura. failed. who was sitting there so solemnly. but did as he was bidden. It was peculiar how Sakura could make him feel so many things at once. "Please. hello. "Sakura. "Tch. Sasuke-kun!" Sakura waved half-heartedly to him as he sprinted away. He noted the way that she bit her lower lip occasionally." Sasuke rolled his eyes at her." He couldn't escape feeling like he'd been played." she greeted. Shifting from foot to foot. "Thank you. Lee beamed at her (literally. I told you that—" She tugged at his sleeve again. He watched her. "Lee-san. you got that?" She grinned widely. "Fine. and he worried about her worrying about him. but he had never been good with words. worried and sad and apprehensive." he added proudly. Sasuke watched her. Sakura-san! Well. I have to go now. "Please. Sasuke watched as Sakura tried to form her face into a smile. I'll see you later! You too." Meanwhile. A-ranked. and she looked so tragically fragile that he was afraid she would break. he said irritably. He noticed how she did not look at him. would shatter into a million jagged. She looked worried." the green-clad youth informed her. she was good. and could not tell whether he was hurt or relieved. Sasuke scoffed inwardly. I'm dragging you home. sure—now get out. the enthusiastic expression she had forced sliding offer her face immediately. If I see you yawn once. "Tsunade-sama is sending me on a mission today. silence blooming between the two. absently. "The Hokage's office.

for some reason. lacing her fingers in his. her eyes blank." She turned to face him fully. She tugged on a lock of his dark hair and brushed his bangs out of his eyes tenderly. whispered in the green-eyed girl's ear. and it dawned on him that she was scared. Not at all." She looked affronted. "You're an idiot." she told him in an oddly formal voice. before she smiled. after months of having her tease him. "Tsunade-sama has summoned us to her office." he said. Sakura nodded listlessly and headed for her office. right?" . Sasuke considered berating her foolishness. right?" "Right. but what he could see of her face was expressionless. Sasuke shadowing her.When they walked into the hospital. "Sasuke-kun…whatever Tsunade-sama says…" she began. "You and the idiot need looking after. anticipation and dread building up in his chest. but remembered how fragile she had looked. "To tell us…" she shrugged helplessly and let him fill in the blank. "Do not." she mumbled rebelliously. Sasuke sat mechanically on the sofa and watched as Sakura set her messengerbag on the floor by her desk. "You won't leave. And then she turned to him. When she pulled away and started leading him by the hand to the Hokage's office. the idea of leaving her was not even conceivable to him. Sasuke understood completely. a receptionist hurried toward Sakura and. "So. Sakura walked over to him and pulled him to his feet. "Of course not. He nodded slowly. "So you'll never leave me. In her office. she glanced back to look at him. That was what the silly girl was worried about? She didn't understand. which Sasuke found both exasperating and endearing in parts. he realized. gauging his reaction. Sakura was looking at him out of the corner of her eye. "And you'll always be there when I need you. "Alright. having her care about him. irritated and a little hurt that she was so skeptical of his dedication to Konoha—of his dedication to her. having her smile for him. bright and white and beautiful. you won't…?" Sasuke resisted the urge to roll his eyes. The corners of Sasuke's mouth turned up. relieved and grateful and happy. She didn't understand that after months of being with her. with an anxious glance at Sasuke." Sakura shifted her weight and tilted her head so that a curtain of hair slipped forward and veiled her face. will you?" Sasuke stared at her. she didn't understand at all. trying to feign indifference." Sasuke sighed. She was hiding behind her hair again. so he settled for chiding gently. Sasuke could not see her face well through her hair. cautiously.

He trusted her to keep the floor from falling out from under him. She started speaking. He was ordered to kill his clan. save for a slight tremor. right?" Sasuke could tell that she was trying to distract him from thinking about what the Hokage would tell them. his eyes closed as he strained to clear his mind of the hectic thoughts that plagued it. summarizing everything in his mind: The Uchiha had been planning a coup. Sasuke remembered that she didn't know that Sakura had taken him to look through the Elders' records." she mourned. Sakura sighed dramatically."Hn. She blinked innocently at him." she answered his question. Sasuke shifted to rest his cheek on the top of her head. Still. a sleepless Sasuke leaned against the headboard of his bed. -That night. He obeyed." she added as an afterthought. right?" Sasuke decided to humor her. Sakura reached up and began stroking his face lightly. he felt sick and had to force himself to concentrate only on Sakura's hand in his. "It depends on how much of a twerp you'd been the day before your birthday. thinking that he would damn well try to be. his voice free of any inflection. you'll buy me a milkshake on my birthday. He heard his bedroom door open. so he allowed himself to venture out of the safety of his mind. Ever so slightly. Itachi had betrayed them to the Hokage and the Elders in the hopes of preventing a war. "Your opinion of me is wounding." Sasuke returned easily." Sasuke told her. "And your behavior towards me is twerp-like. "Sasuke-kun. so she thought that she was breaking the news to them. and the mindless banter did actually distract him to some degree. when they entered the Hokage's office. Sakura was squeezing his hand. smirking fondly. too. looking maybe even a bit apprehensive. That was all that mattered." he informed her. tucking herself into his side and nestling her head at the crook of his neck." Sasuke allowed. "And you'll buy me a pony for my birthday. Sasuke-kun. her fingers whispering over his skin. "And a milkshake. and Sasuke let her words wash over him. he leaned into the caresses. with only the exception of his baby brother. "You'll . Tsunade regarded them seriously from across her desk. "What makes you think that I would have been anything less than angelic?" "Your twerp-like behavior on all other occasions. "You'll keep going on. but did not open his eyes as he heard Sakura approach his bed and clamber up beside him. "What am I supposed to do?" Sasuke asked her. And then he left the village.

And canon is REALLY HARD for me to involve in this. Blame my tendency for writing without thinking ahead. covered in horrifying." she added thoughtfully. THE FLUFF BURNS. I am such a sell-out. anyway.. panted something to Sakura that Sasuke couldn't quite understand. "which might actually be a good conversation-starter. that Lee would not survive.. and my friend Morgan suggested that I get a hand-puppet to talk to during lunch. oozing burns and atrocious wounds. And then I sold him and bought a horse. So he let her words.Speaking of which. man.wait out the probation and you'll move up through the ranks—unless you're content with being a Genin for the rest of your life. . a few days after all of his beliefs came crashing down around his ears. this and the previous chapter were overloading with spoilers. donning the ER attire before he could grab her and force her to explain what was going on to him. "Um. and she was already in the Emergency Room. because that's just more rules for me to abide by. and she giggled softly. . then and there. just knew. GAH. Oops? And sorry if all of this was really confusing and WTF-ish. but he was too proud to call her back and ask her to stay with him. But I want my pony back. retracting her hand from his face and climbing out of the bed. And then he saw Lee. and I was lamenting about how I wouldn't have any friends there. Sasuke immediately dropped his book and sped after her. weren't they? Uh. probably should have put a warning up about that somewhere. a nurse scrambled into Sakura's office. lulling him into a sense of warmth and tranquility. Unrelated: 1) I'm going to a new school this year. She tugged the blankets that Sasuke had kicked to the foot of the bed up and over him before she bent down and kissed his forehead. and watched as Sakura jerked out of her chair and sped down the hall to the Emergency Room. He felt the absence of her like a blade through his chest. I had a pony. You'll move up through the ranks and you'll go on missions and you'll eat ramen with Naruto and you'll buy me a pony for my birthday. The other boy was being wheeled to an operating room by frantic attendants. He was motionless and ashen-hued. Where is the sympathy. I ask you? 2) I WANT A PONY." Sasuke didn't trust himself to speak. He focused on Sakura and tuned everyone and everything else out—until. and…and you'll find something to live for. He was much faster than she was. You need all the conversational assistance you can get." Sasuke poked her side. Ehehe. but her desperation lent her speed. her voice resonate through his mind." she finished. so he nodded and she left the room. Sasuke-kun. and Sasuke knew. I DEMAND A REFUND Everything Is Alright Sasuke spent the next few days in a self-imposed haze. "Goodnight.

as they took her away from him. Covered in blood. her clothing soaked through with blood. his Sakura. kind. He watched as she mended bone and knit skin and healed and healed andhealedhealedhealed. "Tsunade-baachan. As hospital employees swarmed to the prone girl. his voice an expressionless monotone. "No!" she shrieked. Sasuke stood. and the ominous straight line on the heart monitor remained unchanging. He watched as Sakura hovered over Lee's prone figure. He saw his mother. did not open his eyes or speak or move or show any sign of life. too. his mouth open in wordless horror. her limps splayed erratically." . Immediately they both stood. Sasuke had explained what had happened in the briefest way he could. her hands clamped over her mouth to keep from screaming again. is Sakura-chan okay?" Naruto demanded. I'm sososo sorry. Lee. just slightly. but still Lee did not regain any color. her eyes rolling up into her head. Sakura screamed." she said wearily. The blond boy had raced to the hospital when Sasuke sent him a message via a Chuunin. his blue eyes wide and panicked. And then the heart monitor that Lee had been attached to at some point started to change. stiff with terror. beating her fists against Lee's chest. Sasuke stared and did not see Sakura. It occurred to Sasuke that she looked…old. wake up! Please! I'm sorry. so surely. Tsunade sighed and rubbed her face. "Perfectly fine. abruptly flat-lined. He watched. she took two shaky steps away from the corpse of her friend. a period of time in which Sasuke stared and Sakura struggled and Lee did not respond. Sasuke suspected. Sakura knew this. "No…I…" she whispered. "Sakura will be fine. He followed her into the operating room. but you have to wake up! Don't die! P-please don't die…" Lee did not move. surely she would not give up until Lee was okay again. and the two had settled into to wait for news of the green-eyed girl they couldn't imagine living without. The jagged line that had kept moving slightly. Everyone was too frantic to notice his presence and kick him out.But Sakura—Sakura was talented and incredible and driven. as Sakura slid bonelessly to the tiles of the hospital floor. Sakura could heal anything. "No! Goddammit. "Lee—I'm sorr—" And then she collapsed. expectant mother lying in a pool of her own blood on the floor of the Uchiha manor. -Sasuke and Naruto were sitting in the waiting room when Tsunade exited Sakura's hospital room. because she had learned from the last time and would never let another person die again. He was dead. her hands glowing a bright green. This went on for more than an hour. his beautiful.

fraying thread. he would strike her down if that was what it took for him to be able to see Sakura and confirm for himself that she was okay. but she shouldn't…be like this. "But speak softly. Sasuke handled Sakura as if she were made of paper and glass held together by a thin. with devastating clarity. "What…happened? I mean." he ordered. Her warning was wholly unnecessary. He was glad to see that she wasn't hooked up to any machines. ran his fingers through her hair. unnatural. He shifted her slightly and observed that the veins on the insides of her arms were prominent. She had always been thin. only obscured by the red rash Sasuke had noticed previously. "Let me see her. The three of them entered the room. Sakura lay there. "Hell yes. anyway. that she wouldn't disappear from his life like his father. just because of that. It figured that the little twerp would sleep through one of the most traumatic days of Sasuke's life. his jaw set and his eyes blazing coldly. her head resting against his collarbone with his arms folded gingerly around her waist. fine. She's sleeping right now. too?" Naruto stared at her as if she had lost her mind. which Sasuke took as ominous. and realized for the first time. but Sasuke was not so easily swayed. opening the door. how frighteningly frail Sakura was." he said slowly." she commanded. should she?" Tsunade sighed. "Nothing I say is going to keep you from finding a way to her. but gave up when Sasuke shot her a defiant glare. wearing an ugly hospital gown and tucked under a blanket. Sasuke mused darkly but fondly. "Oh. but paid him no heed as sat on the side of the bed and ever so carefully began to lift her into his arms. "Don't—" Tsunade began. is it?" she asked rhetorically. He shivered. come on. and Sasuke was immediately by the bedside before Naruto could beat him to it. like his brother. "No. "Fine. "Let me see her. Hokage be damned. Like his mother." he repeated." she beckoned. indicating that she was indeed asleep. as if making sure there was absolutely no way that she could misunderstand him. Tsunade looked as if she knew that not giving him permission would not deter him in the slightest. I know the thing with Lee. "Alright. He slowly arranged her in his arms. Her eyes were closed and she was breathing deeply. Tsunade almost smiled. He would have smashed his head against the wall right then for not truly noticing her ill health if she hadn't been in his arms." She turned to Naruto. .Naruto breathed a sigh of relief. After a moment he asked. She sleeps deeply. remembering the awful moment of déjà vu that Sakura's collapse had brought him. "I supposed you're coming. But be gentle. but this—this was unhealthy. She seemed like she wanted to glare at him but couldn't muster the energy." Sasuke stared her down. Naruto reached over Sasuke and stroked her face." she cautioned him. He was aware of Naruto hovering over his shoulder.

she's been functioning on low chakra for far too long. but realized that he had probably pushed the volatile woman as far as he could without getting punched through a wall. remembering to be quiet so as not to disturb the slumbering kunoichi. But I'm going to suspend her from all forms of work for a month so that she can recuperate. she'll be fine. "She's as much mine as she is yours. Naruto received her with as much gentleness as Sasuke had treated her with and they swapped places sitting on the bed. It's quite common for high levels of stress to be exhibited by physical signs—skin rashes. but I thought…" It appeared as if she was talking to herself. so he sullenly placed Sakura in a smug Naruto's arms. Sakura often forgets to eat. right?" the Kyuubi container reaffirmed. "Anyway. "come with me to my office so that we can discuss the rest of your probation. . When trying to heal Lee. Sasuke went around to the other side of the bed and sat there. "What makes you think you get a turn?" Naruto glared at him. She shut down. the third reason is malnutrition. "The reason Sakura collapsed is a combination of many things. First of all." Sasuke gripped her hand tighter (although still very gently) while Naruto pulled her closer. "I knew she was pushing herself too much. and that's all self-explanatory. Add that with everything else." she ordered. Tsunade rolled her eyes. Second of all. "I'm not going to tolerate any more insolence from you today. Tsunade nodded. bemused by the sight of two of the most powerful shinobi in the village squabbling over who got to hold her former apprentice as if she were a sleeping kitten. but there was a steely glint to the Godaime's hazel eyes. limp hand in his. "But you said that she'll be okay. for the love of—Sasuke. It appears she was taking on the task of healing more patients than I was aware of." he whispered harshly. You see that rash on her arm? I examined it and determined that it's stress-related. "Oh. which leads to her staying up late and getting up early in order to achieve what she wants done. let Naruto hold her. hair loss…" Naruto instantly began running his fingers through Sakura's pastel locks. "That's not fair. Sakura forced out the absolute last bit of her chakra. as if expecting a giant chunk to just fall out. which isn't healthy. She shook her head. and then the high level of emotional anxiety that she felt when she realized that Lee died. Uchiha." Sasuke scowled at him." she addressed Sasuke. you idiot. nestled in Naruto's arms." she warned him. over-exhaustion. and her body just…couldn't handle it. Tsunade looked at them both seriously. "It's my turn to hold her. "Sakura doesn't have hair loss." Sasuke was about to vehemently deny this when Tsunade rubbed her face again. I guess you could say." Tsunade sighed yet again. She just has the rash.Naruto nudged Sasuke. and Sakura slept on peacefully through it all. When caught up in work. You both know that Sakura pushes herself far too much. Everyone spoke with a muted voice. Speaking of which. "Yes. which led having constant low levels of chakra. Sasuke wanted to object. taking her tiny." Sasuke was loathe to leave Sakura when she looked so small and helpless.

Her gestures of affection and flippant words had made even the most drawn-out. Sasuke-kun. to depend on her to comfort him and care for him and be with him. Her warmth and cheerfulness had permeated his ancestral home. but…Sakura enjoyed being with him. and he was about to retort that yes. You were living with her for ten months. Let her stay with me. "Or for you?" Sasuke's eyes widened. And I tried to take care of her. immediately knowing that he would not like the chase. He remembered her words in the attic: "So…so just let me know if you even need my help. "there are two months left of your probation.Scowling. so I will assign you to—" "Wait. but was that it." . of course this was for Sakura. She needs me. every playful word and affectionate glance that she had given him." "But she can't live alone! She…" he trailed off. "She lived on her own in an apartment before you came back. "Wait." She gazed at him disapprovingly. "No. didn't she? He remembered every time that she had smiled when she saw him. Let's cut to the chase. but then he thought about it." Tsunade tilted her head. "Sakura is clearly in no condition to monitor you. "So." Tsunade responded. He knew that if Tsunade allowed Sakura to stay with him that he would take better care of her. "You mean she'll be living on her own?" "Yes. Sasuke squeezed Sakura's hand one last time before following Tsunade out of the room. every time that she had leaned on him. a little testy because of his interruptions. Sakura will move out of the Uchiha manor and—" Sasuke interrupted again. You didn't take care of her then. "I can take care of her." Sasuke bit his lip. "Are you sure you're arguing about this for her?" she asked slowly. "I thought that she would figure things out by herself." Sasuke stiffened. it dawned on him that he was pressing this case a good deal for himself. one day…I want you to tell me that you're alright." she began. And. You mean Sakura won't be living with me anymore?" Tsunade shook her head. awful days bearable. He had come to rely on her. but still her health deteriorated. I won't let her do anything strenuous. chasing away the ghosts and misery that had overrun it previously. Yes. knowing she spoke the truth. -Tsunade regarded him seriously from behind her desk in her office. "I'm not so sure about that." Sasuke interrupted incredulously. was that really what was driving him? The idea of going back to the manor and not having Sakura there was bleak at best. I just…I'll take care of her from now on.

his eyelids drooping. and for however long it takes to get her out of here. "I know. Naruto. and Sasuke reluctantly set Sakura down in her bed. at eight PM a nurse came in and said hesitantly. Naruto was still holding her. "I know. "I'll definitely be back tomorrow." Sasuke didn't respond. Get out of my office before I change my mind. . sir. but he was not going to let Tsunade take her from him. Sasuke nodded." she informed him. she'll stay with you. If." -Two hours later it was almost eight o'clock at night." Sasuke didn't have to be told twice. "I'm arguing about this for myself in part. and the nurse took one look at his expression and did not bother him for the rest of the night. However. conceded and placed her in the dark-haired youth's arms. and said quietly." Sasuke nodded again. dead serious. and they day after that. I'm sorry. without a doubt. "Please. "And the day after that. "Just so we're all clear." he said. "Here." I screwed up. take her. so he dropped his last pretense of dignity and allowed his desperation to color his voice and expression." His tone was absolute. "but I think that Sakura would be better off with me as well. surprisingly. -Back in Sakura's room. now?" She moaned. I promised Hinata-chan that I'd explain why I suddenly ran off to the hospital. "This is all your fault. "Just so we're all clear. when his probation was over. paused a moment." Naruto grinned a bit." he admitted. When Sasuke entered the room. the most precious person in his life. He looked up to stare the Hokage straight in the eyes. slightly intimidated but extremely relieved. Sakura wanted to leave him. visiting hours are over…" "I'm not visiting. he would respect her choice and let her go. "I'm staying." For a long. tense moment Sasuke thought that she was going to refuse." Tsunade still didn't look convinced. there won't be a safe place for you to run to. knowing it was better for her to sleep in a proper position. barely listening." When Sasuke outstretched his arms demandingly." Sasuke asserted calmly. that he wouldn't be alright without her with him. he looked up. "Yes. But if she's not completely recovered after the month is up. "I need alcohol…" she mumbled. He sat in one of the hard. plastic chairs across from the bed and settled in to doze." Sasuke nodded. Naruto grimaced. "Can I go back to Sakura. too preoccupied with holding the girl who was. "Fine. you know. "Um. without a doubt.Sasuke knew. but then she sighed for what must have been the twentieth time that day. Naruto punched his shoulder lightly. Please let her stay with me.

" Sakura hummed. He needs to sell about 5. Not that this wasn't already sickeningly fluffy--and sappy." she answered. extremely reluctant to instigate her recollection of Lee's death. Speaking of which. get it? And this chapter is dedicated to Roses of Sharon. It's a surprise. actually. She thought about it for a moment. I realized something: this whole "having a plot" thing? It's not for me. READ THIS: Don't get used to new chapters this early. If you're not a Nerdfighter and you have no idea what I'm talking about. August 24. wary of upsetting her. yawning widely. Also. Also. still. He'd been expecting her to wail about Lee the moment that she regained some semblance of consciousness. thanksallthesame. He scrambled to think of something that would divert her attention. Gasp. Still. you may have heard of his other two books. and he assisted her in sitting up. Or buy it in the first week that it comes out. "Awful.." he whispered. ." was the first thing that Sakura said (mumbled incoherently) when she woke up around three AM the next morning. all traces of weariness vanishing. struggling to turn around so that she could see his face. I do use Caps Lock too much. I only updated now because I'm busy tomorrow and on Sunday and I wanted to remind all my fellow Nerdfighters (anyone?) to pre-order their copy of Paper Towns on John Green's birthday-. "How do you feel?" Sasuke asked cautiously. His death will be explained a bit later. "Sasuke-kun?" murmured Sakura thickly. and Sasuke obligingly pulled the blanket up. . sliding in behind her so that she could lean against his chest. "Yeah. "I can barely even remember what happened…" she trailed off musingly. so the next couple of chapters are going to be pure fluff punctuated by angst and humor. Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines. "I'm really tired. Sasuke positioned her accordingly.000 copies in the first week for him to become a New York Times bestselling author. She shivered a bit.Yes. They're amazing. It's easier for me to prattle on mindlessly like I usually do. I THINK I HAVE A FLUFF-WRITING ADDICTION. just pre-order a copy of the book Paper Towns by John Green. IT HELPS TO DECREASE WORLD SUCK LEVELS.Sunday. You have been warned.I KILLED LEE. "I'm here. Sasuke was by her side instantly." "Mmm. I've got most of the major plot stuff over with for now. (despairs) Everything Is Alright "Maharflebimyntwomg. His brother Hank says that it's cheapest at Amazon(dot)com. Why are you reading this when you could be reading them? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU? I hope you'll all support John Green! BUT DON'T TELL HIM.. All I can manage to remember is that I collapsed…I was in the hospital. tucking it under her chin. right? What—" she broke off to yawn. "happened?" Sasuke hesitated. because I love her and feel awful about not being able to help her more.

" "Still." "So what do you want?" Sasuke prompted gently. -Around eleven o'clock the next morning. with his arms wrapped gingerly around her. Sasuke returned to Sakura's hospital room from pacing the hallway in the hopes of working out the painful kinks in his legs. "She only started moving as soon as you left the room. and she was squirming a bit. "Just…don't leave. the blankets tangling around her legs. However.Sakura blinked up at him sleepily. Sakura smiled faintly. plastic chair for the rest of the morning. Still." he muttered. It was a long time before she answered. two minutes ago!" Naruto protested indignantly. he knew it would be less than a minute before she drifted off. a second later he noticed upon closer examination that her eyelids were fluttering. When he opened the door. He held her impossibly closer. and then sitting in a hard. shoving Naruto—who had arrived at six AM that morning— unceremoniously out of the way. and Sasuke would have believed that she had fallen asleep if it hadn't been for her not quite even breathing. Sasukekun? Will you do something for me?" Apparently her attention was already diverted. revealing her spearmint green irises. or something. which were the result of sitting partially on the bed and partially off all night. He crouched over the hospitalized girl. like. He was by the bedside immediately. his eyes also glued to his only female teammate. It was like she was trying to follow you. Sasuke breathed contentedly into her hair. she's waking up!" Under any other circumstances Sasuke would have . "Why didn't you come get me?" Sasuke hissed at Naruto while keeping his eyes locked on Sakura's face. when she spoke. fell asleep as well. she whimpered and started struggling. and. "Look." She giggled and nuzzled his throat." Sasuke muttered angrily. feeling cheated that Naruto had been there to witness the beginning of Sakura's first real lapse into the conscious world while he hadn't. "Two ponies is pushing it. "We'll see. Sakura's eyelids rose significantly. "I know. a bit embarrassed but very sincere. and the shadows cast upon her cheekbones by her eyelashes rippled when her eyelids quivered. her hands fisted." And then she fell asleep. hoping against hope that he would find Sakura sitting up and smiling at him. "I won't leave you. he was disappointed to see that she was still prone. her head placed comfortably on his shoulder. okay?" Sasuke thought of when she had held him through the night (after they learned the truth about Itachi and the Uchiha clan) and had come away with an ugly bruise to show for it. Naruto punched Sasuke's shoulder. but cautioned. Sasuke nodded in acquiescence. "As soon as you closed the door. "Hey. watching the way that her lips parted and moved.

he still wanted her to comfort him and tell him that it was alright. and there was some much guilt and pain and grief and agony permeating her voice that Sasuke felt sick to his stomach. unwilling to back away from her but spontaneously apprehensive about touching her. as he had the night before. it had really been his mother's death all over again. even when Sakura was going through her own trauma. Of course. when he suddenly became aware of Naruto watching them with an uncharacteristically knowing smile tugging at the corners of his lips. in the way that he looked at her and thought of her. He disregarded that thought immediately and busied himself with getting Sakura a drink of water when he saw her licking her lips. utterly he had believed. Sasuke hadn't either. "Lee. for one terrible moment. but had trouble sitting up. but a small part of him was resentful that she had said Naruto's name first. and took the glass from him gratefully. that when Sakura had collapsed. her eyes widening. noting how Naruto had absolutely no problem touching her." but right now he was too preoccupied with staring apprehensively at Sakura. Her eyes half-lidded. her head supported by his orange-clad shoulder. Crushing despair overtook her face. murmuring a "thank you. rubbing her back as she sipped the cool liquid. clear as day. draining the small amount of vibrancy and animation that had been present. resolving to focus solely on Sakura for the moment." Sasuke shifted on his feet uncomfortably. She reached for the proffered drink. always a ready-made scapegoat. it was small. Sasuke felt terrible knowing that. and he directed those emotions at Naruto. Sasuke saw. but it made Sasuke question whether he even really had a right to touch her. avoiding Naruto's eyes and musing over his newfound uneasiness about physical contact with Sakura. she tilted her head and regarded the two boys bent over her blearily.made a snide remark along the lines of "Well. He never wanted Sakura to look like that. and he remembered how devastatingly. keeping a cautious distance between himself and Sakura. "Naruto. That left him feeling unsettled and irritated. Sasuke-kun…?" Sasuke knew that it was childish. Fortunately. Self-conscious. Wearily. you're perceptive. and was left hovering over Sakura. after a bit of struggling Sakura managed to sit up by herself. "Lee-san? What abou—" and then she gasped harshly. Sakura finished the water. on anything that she might need. she leaned against him. "Sakura-chan…" Naruto began hesitantly. "do you…are you…about Lee…" Sakura frowned a bit. He wasn't sure what. anyway. It wasn't a dramatic change. That gave birth to many uncomfortable trains of thought that Sasuke shoved to the back of his mind for further notice. He held the glass out to her for her to grasp. Said boy had come and sat on the side of Sakura's bed. sound like that. make her smile. that she was alright. the realization and remembrance come flooding back to her all at once. . anything that might make her feel better. but something—something had changed in his perception of her. Sasuke exhaled testily. Sasuke squished the feeling that it should be his shoulder that she was leaning on and sat on the other side of the bed. and Naruto took the empty glass from her and set it aside. Sasuke halted in his movements. clearly perplexed." she whispered. just until he figured his tumultuous thoughts out. Sasuke started to slide behind her in order to prop her up against him. until…Sasuke thought about it. that everything was alright. and it almost made him choke.

and she was upset. When he'd held her the night before (well." He left. wanted to deny it." He swallowed and kissed her cheek before he moved toward the door. wanted to tell her that she was wrongwrongwrong. "Sakura-chan. frozen. Naruto let go of her. Carefully. Naruto wasn't special enough to Sakura to make her smile. but he had lost the power to speak." he implored. but Sakura didn't seem to notice. he placed his arms around her." Sakura whispered. frustrated and desperate. and he had no idea what to do. I can't…just…just please leave me alone for now. there was nothing that you could have done. She was still lying on her side (facing him) with her eyes closed. and he still wasn't sure if it was okay for him to touch her. It chilled Sasuke to the bone. "I'm such a screw-up. clutching her to him. and Sasuke was secretly. Lee was—" "I don't want to talk about it right now. "Thank you. He looked…hurt. her words interlaced with an emotion that Sasuke knew all too well: self-loathing." she murmured softly. It wasn't your fault." She nodded listlessly. The intimacy of their position. But she was hugging him. Naruto. and she was Sakura. or what to say. Naruto. "Sakura-chan. for goddamned once. carefully. she spoke. Feel better soon. his eyes wide. almost dazedly. He'd thought . So he sat there. it had felt natural. the morning. and stepped back from the bed. Sasuke had absolutely no chance. Naruto bit the inside of his lip. and. so he knew that he had to try. okay?" She turned on her side so that her back was facing towards the blue-eyed boy. uncharacteristically blank and devoid of emotion. really. "O…okay. For once. For once. Sasuke was still sitting on the edge of the bed. if Naruto couldn't make her feel better. Sasuke stiffened—she felt so delicate and fragile and frangible. "don't be like that. her voice frighteningly. desperate for her to touch him. Naruto. Naruto was as helpless as Sasuke was. This embrace was hesitant and almost awkward. "Really. Sasuke wanted to argue. After a long moment. couldn't turn every situation positive. the silkiness of her hair. her face ghostly pale and still. "Sakurachan…" "Please. she had sat up and scooted towards him to wind her arms around his chest. carefully. settling her against his chest. He was aware of her in a way that he'd never been before—the subtle contours of her body. Lee—" Sakura closed her eyes. Sakura-chan.Naruto was also shaken by her anguish. afraid that Sakura wanted him to leave as well. her face buried in his chest. been easy. selfishly glad that for once. gathering her to him. Almost before he realized it. really). Naruto couldn't instantly make everything better. aching to hold her.

disappointed. but…love? She didn't flirt with him. He concluded that she loved him in a different way. yes. if he was honest with himself." Naruto would never be angry with Sakura—at least. I guess. "You love him. Because she kissed his forehead and stroked his hair and held him. He could feel her frown into his shirt before she lifted her head to look him in the eyes. Cheated. Sasuke answer was immediate and absolute. anyway. almost hysterically. "You love me. didn't ask him on dates." Sasuke tried to ignore the sudden warmth that was blooming throughout his chest. he had thought that any of the love she might have felt for him previously would have dissipated on the night that he left Konoha. I love him. I love Naruto. notromantic. He and Hinata are adorable together. "Don't get me wrong. Not like that. their relationship would be equal. but he felt no warm tears seeping through his shirt." Sasuke barely heard the end of her sentence. He knew that she cared about him. because she never gave up on him. for the first time ever. I love Naruto because he's…he's one of my important people. sometimes even maternal way. even. it was in a friendly. special and determined and loyal and generous and affectionate. not truly angry. Sakura hummed questioningly. I—" then her eyes widened." His voice was flat. Sakura sighed. I just…can't deal with talking about. Aren't you?" she asked softly. "Sure. Sakura had never acted like she loved him. now.that she was going to cry. and when she touched him. finally. He blinked and looked at her. and she giggled desperately.. When he returned. not in the way that she had professed that she had on the night of his defection. a sad ghost of a smile lurking around her mouth. . She was watching him earnestly." His voice was as flat as the last time that he'd spoken.. he would be her most important person. and Sasuke had made her cry enough to be able to recognize her tears effortlessly.yesterday…right now. he didn't think that he did. "You thought that I didn't?" Sasuke shrugged evasively. if she still did love him in that way. but if one had listen closely. …At least. No. She loved him. She pressed her face to his collarbone. "Oh. as if afraid of his answer. almost curiously. "Do you think that Naruto's going to be mad at me?" she mumbled into his shirt. Her most precious person. almost timidly. Sasuke-kun. This realization left him feeling…well. in anyone else's voice. Sasuke cared about—loved?—her because she was smart and lovely and talented and devoted and kind. "Of course I love you. too caught up in the beginning. No. you should know that by now. Because he didn't deserve her. Truth be told. You're my Sasuke-kun. Because she forgave him. His reasoning was that. something that. Not that Sasuke cared for her romantically. Sasuke remembered that Sakura was still waiting for him to answer. might have been called a wondrous tone. Because she was his. no. And then. one might have detected an underlying current. "No. That's why I also love Kakashi-sensei and you and Tsunadeshishou and Ino-pig and my parents—although a lot of the time I don't know why. Because she was Sakura.

. Sasuke realized. I swear. her mouth hanging open a bit before her lips stretched into a wide. y'know. because. their eyelashes all but meshing. and it evoked a certain pride in him. averting his eyes from her face. like. He had made her upset and lonely and frightened and desperate. and thought that. He had made her cry. leaned down to— hesitantly. So Sasuke took a deep breath. he concluded. See. And of course I already warned you that it was going to be fluffy. made it unimportant what kind of love it was. She was. as if searching his face in order to figure out whether he was being sincere or not. I'm fourteen. Or Neji's. if Naruto could. because he's starting to see her as. after so long. painstakingly slowly.) Still. y'know. (And she was his. He had made her…happy? Sasuke had made Sakura many things. incredulous. he was Sakura's. he reassured himself. But if you're confused. I don't know anything about love! And. like. her eyes lighting up with wonder and joy. But it got so freakingsappy and stuff.. But somewhere in the middle it. and he watched as her eyes grew wide and round. a girl and stuff. when even Narutocouldn't. Sakura tilted her face so that she could look up at him cautiously. and.. he could still see her out of the corner of his eye. this was supposed to be all angsty and stuff. That'll get addressed later. subconsciously. So I just kept typing whatever came to mind. it's all jut about Sasuke thinking and waxing poetics. you know. too. didn't I? That'll come in the next chapter. This. Lee died. the Missa). Anywayz. Gah. I also meant to elaborate on the Sakura/Mikoto thing (as pointed out by the one. and. clumsily—touch his lips to her cheek for a fleeting moment before straightening immediately. Sasuke hesitated before mumbling "I guess" to the top of her head. that if Sakura was his. but finally being able to love someone. but admitting it to Sakura was another. than surely he could. considering that his predisposition was to repress emotions). maternal figure that Sasuke used to see when he looked at Sakura is gone. Sakura noticed. just now…he had made her happy. But. She leaned forward until their foreheads were pressed together. his girl with eyes like fireworks and a smile like sunshine.well. And he did. It was only fair. Yes. 'cuz. Admitting this kind of stuff to himself was one thing (and actually a rather big step for him. Um. steeled himself. the only. he realized that he was trying to find a mother in her and (subconsciously) forced himself to stop. happy smile. . but I still kind of need to stick to it. Er. faint smile to form on his own lips. that he did love her. gazing at her happy expression. basically. then he was hers. in turn. like. he didn't think. and her smile grew even wider and brighter. I mean. it's in my summary. Sasuke remembered Naruto's departure. I said that I'd explain Lee's death.. right? Because. As long as it was Sakura that he loved. However. too.? Ehehe. in the past. in this chapter the sort of. even if he hasn't consciously addressed it yet. Especially not Naruto's. Sasuke turned his head to face her again. caused a small. His and no one else's. He loved Sakura. genuine.Sasuke ran the phrase 'my Sasuke-kun' through his head. Still not romantically. It's a suckish summary. died on me. That's the whole thing with how he's unsure of how to touch her now.

Sasuke cut to the chase. Where does Sasuke get off. "Look. at least they didn't group hug. "I didn't come to make her feel worse. AND THEN KISHIMOTO RUINED IT." he accused. "I'm not going to stay away from her for long.. after a while she had lapsed back into a sad. Even though he had made her smile yesterday. because. too. in Sasuke's mind. though both made valiant attempts to hide it behind blank facades. a dare. He smirked arrogantly. because she thought that I was in my early twenties. Do you really want to make her feel worse?" Neji flinched minutely before scowling. "We'll see. and a threat. her plain face blank. it's inevitable that you're going to upset her even more than she already is.? This is dedicated to whenifallxx. Neji spoke only of his own concern for Sakura. grief-ridden silence when she wasn't sleeping (and even in her sleep she looked unhappy). Still." Neji demanded of Sasuke the next day." he said quietly. but she was still conscious. "It doesn't matter what you came here to do.) "I came to…to see her. He hated to do it. hello. Sasuke had left her alone for a bit to stretch his legs and had come across the two walking down the hall. About Team Seven and stuff. so Sasuke grimaced and played his final card. With fortunate timing. "You're lying. that Neji was there to see Sakura for his own purposes." Neji threw one final glare at him and departed. Sasuke stepped forward until he was eye-to-eye with the Hyuuga. knowing that the loss of Lee must have been devastating." (Again. SCORE. "She's sleeping. If you go in there. physically barring the way between the two teammates and Sakura's room. Everything Is Alright "Let me see her. Tenten following him." he asserted coldly. his arms crossed as he stood in the hospital hallway. Neji and Tenten had come to the hospital the day after she woke up to visit Sakura. Sasuke's own slight height advantage becoming useful.Unrelated: 1) Chapter 415 sucked so freaking bad. (Sasuke also noticed now Neji said "me" instead of "us" to include Tenten. and Sasuke knew that seeing Neji and Tenten so soon would only make her feel worse. both of them looking drawn and upset. "she's upset about Lee. Neji narrowed his eyes. not of Tenten's. He glowered and turned away. indicating.. Sasuke noticed.) Sasuke felt a small niggling of empathy for the other male. Sasuke recognized his statement as a challenge. "you won't go in there. Sakura was dozing. He could see that Neji still intended to go in." he finished lamely." he said stiffly. . Sasuke did not budge. Sakura needed to rest. "If you care about her at all. yes." he addressed solely Neji." Neji's eyes widened and he made to retort but seemed to lose the will. Um. Sasuke actually was lying. but he was going to have to play on Neji's obvious interest in Sakura." Neji warned Sasuke. being so desperate to save Karin like that? And chapter 414 made me so happy. SASUKE CARES. and Sakura came first.

shifting so that she was no longer leaning against the headboard of the bed. She matched it with one of her own. and a shower and change of clothes would be a relief. It's twelve-thirty now. berating himself internally for not keeping his confrontation with Neji quieter. Sasuke tucked a lock of pastel hair behind Sakura's ear." Sasuke also shook his head. refusing to concede. partially onto the bed. Once his face was within her arm's reach. so Sasuke lightly tapped his knuckles to her forehead. "I heard someone else's voice. "We match. "I won't leave you. tugging him towards her again. "When was the last time you ate?" The corner of Sasuke's mouth turned down." She cast him a doubtful glance." he responded simply. "No. and started to get up. "Sakura." Sasuke shook his head. She looked desperate and upset. until he realized that he must have developed circles under his own eyes due to two long." She attempted to bargain." "Yes. She frowned at him. but instead of accepting his help she grabbed his outstretched arm and used it to tug him to her. "The nurse should be coming with your lunch soon. Sakura clasped his hand." she murmured ruefully. he couldn't help the corners of his mouth turning up. She turned her head to watch him as he crossed the room to sit in the chair that he had dragged to her bedside. Forget about me." he reinforced. For a moment Sasuke wasn't sure what she meant." Sasuke pinned her with a stern look. Sasuke made to assist her in some way." she insisted. "Sasuke-kun. "That's not important. but Sakura shook her head and interjected. "One. He gently pushed her hand away. rousing himself from an uneasy doze occasionally to make sure that Sakura was okay." he said. I'll go and be back within an hour. "Hug. Finally. and Sasuke could tell that she was trying to appear fierce and intimidating.Sasuke watched to make sure that they indeed left the building before slipping silently back into Sakura's room. but he allowed her to pull him towards her. Sasuke-kun." she reminded him. Sasuke shook his head again. You need to go home and sleep and shower and eat. it is. "Two hours. . "It doesn't matter. "No. "At least go home and eat and shower and stuff." she tried. Don't worry about it. "Fine. "Who were you talking to?" she asked softly. Sasuke could have easily pulled away from her feeble grip. restless nights spent in the hospital." she compromised. frustrated. she raised her hand to touch the hollows under his eyes with her sensitive fingertips." She bit her lip. her chin stuck out stubbornly. She was still awake." he began. changing the subject easily. leaning against the headboard.

"He looked…like. drooping. her eyelids." Hinata murmured. but not before she whispered. "Hey. She was obviously on the brink of falling asleep. -A bit over an hour later. "When you're tired. "Sasuke-kun. managing the whole production in a little less than forty-five minutes. crossing his legs. looking upon her delicate face. Upon entering Sakura's room." Sasuke tried to look disapproving and stern. "I wanted to stay away until you came back. this time with Hinata. jumped in the shower. "Moron." "Not everyone's as logical as you are." she hummed drowsily. yet she hadn't lied down. he bent down to take her in his arms gently as she folded her arms around his neck. absently stroking the sleeping girl's cheek. . Naruto visited again. gazing down at her bedridden friend softly. feeling awkward and uncomfortable with the display of affection. you should sleep. but couldn't help the warmth that spread through his body at her intention. She became aware of his presence. "It's…kind of nice.He blinked and actually felt a bit of color rising in his cheeks. Approving." he murmured. To mask his embarrassment. threw on clean clothes and mechanically ate something he found in the fridge before speeding back to the hospital. Keeping his voice hushed." "He looked very upset. sliding down so that she was lying on her back. who brought lilies that she arranged in a vase on the side-table. taking a seat on the edge of Sakura's bed." Sasuke gingerly detached himself and avoided her eyes. Sasuke frowned and approached her. he found her leaning against the headboard once again." -Sasuke raced to the manor. Sasuke-kun. and watched as her eyes drifted shut. Hinata sat on the other side. "Yeah. "Bye." he admonished. He cradled her there for a moment." she reminded him sleepily. yet strangely pleased. you know? Going to sleep and knowing you'll be there when I wake up…" Sasuke exhaled softly. wondering if something was wrong and if he ought to call a nurse. Sasuke sat in the chair. at the moment disinterested in any subject that did not involve Sakura and her health. like a zombie. Naruto prompted Sasuke. have you seen Gai-sensei lately?" Sasuke shook his head. pearly from lack of sleep. Sasuke-kun. because otherwise she'd start to think that she could get away with things. He made an effort to keep up his authoritative appearance." Naruto began. "Yeah. "Hinata-chan and I saw him when we were walking here. and she kissed his cheek softly.

" She managed a small smile for him. That is. but he had never really liked Gai. Sasuke-kun. and talked to them before the funeral. until he saw the depressed look on her face. flowers. family. "You're getting released from the hospital tomorrow. (Earlier. "Stop hiding your face. and Sakura mourned the amount of time that she'd have to put into writing thank you notes. Just as he didn't have the heart to deny her a meeting with Neji and Tenten. there was a distinct chill to the air now. "I…think that it would be better if I—went to them. much to Sasuke's interest. "It's just…Lee-san's funeral—it's tomorrow. but she was adamant about attending. she asked haltingly. "Thanks. "…Oh. . "If you really want to. I mean. It irritated Sasuke to no end. She actually blushed a little bit." he ordered." Sasuke felt a small amount of pity upon hearing this. -By the end of Sakura's two-and-a-half day stay in the hospital. she had accumulated an obscenely large amount of gifts from friends. Her hospital room was carpeted by cards. such as teddy bears holding 'Get Well Soon' signs." he informed her. Sasuke actually didn't approve—in fact." he answered. You know?" she tacked onto the end. and ducked her head. and it seemed as if she were seeking his approval. isn't it?" she confirmed. "Yeah." he admonished. "Sasukekun…have Neji and Tenten come by? While I was asleep and stuff. and his guilt increased dramatically. and she pressed on. Sasuke was dreading having her stand outside for the entire ceremony. but raising his hand to her face and tucking the wing of pastel hair behind her ear. stilling unwilling to face him. and he didn't have the heart to deny her what she wanted. I just thought—I mean…" she averted her eyes and allowed her hair to slip forward and screen her face. plucking the book from her hands and gathering all of the other stuff off of her bed. "I would have told you if they had. he would really rather that she skipped the funeral as well. and small presents. people that she'd healed before. he muttered. candy. Sakura had expressed a small amount of amusement at his obsessivecompulsive tendencies. books. I see. Sasuke reluctantly affirmed this." He shrugged off her thanks.) "No. lying through his teeth and only feeling the tiniest bit guilty. busying himself with shuffling cards into orderly stacks. While she was thumbing through a book that Ino had given her. steady rising and falling of Sakura's chest." Sasuke studiously affected an air of disinterest. her voice slightly strained. Sasuke exhaled a bit sharply and came to sit beside her on the bed. Disgruntled by the realization that he had grown soft and indulgent. Like he'd lost his youth and was all depressed and stuff. instead letting himself be lulled into a state of calm by watching the slow. comrades. Rest. although she appreciated everyone's concern and thoughtfulness. so his did not dwell on it. keeping a cautious space of about six inches between them (he was still feeling a small amount of discomfort when it came to physical contact with her). a promise of a cold winter.Naruto nodded.

which he was sure this would turn into if they continued on." She sighed. so certain. Sakura. after all. anyway. Satisfied. No longer would he place the burden of caring for him on her. He reluctantly summoned up the memory of Sakura's collapse. and." She slouched out of her sitting position until she was flat on her back. She had become strong in his absence. clearly not having expected him to say that. could possibly not be too far off). and probably would until the day he died (which. "What matters is that you're taken care of." He met her frown with a composed." "It doesn't matter whether it's official or not. of how. Only then did he realize how selfish and blind he'd been. "What makes you think that?" Sasuke narrowed his eyes minutely. being a shinobi. abandoned her for seven years. "When I tell you to rest. would nurse her back to health and make her happy again. "You are not!" Sasuke gave her a look. thanks all the same. after having been put into a frangible state of mind by Lee's untimely and unfortunate death. but he couldn't help adding. for better or for worse. Sasuke leaned against the wall opposite her. he decided." Sasuke shrugged. relied on her to comfort him. From then on. I'm in charge of you now. he would be able to just stop needing her. you rest. surprised. but he could stall no longer. Perhaps. "I'm not tired. for a moment. He would take care of her— protect her and support her and look out for her. and then he came back and expected her to take care of him? No longer. but he had learned from various sources that it was in the face of many hardships—and he hadn't been there to help her through any of them. and he realized…that. Sometime in the midst of his musings Sakura had fallen asleep. Sasuke didn't know why —it was the truth. He wanted to think that. look after her. "Rest. unwilling to engage in an earnest argument with her. "Not officially." She gasped—an indignant intake of breath." She scowled. irritated. He had put it off for a few days. He had left her. to care for him. staring up at the ceiling. all along. he had been looking for a surrogate mother in her. dissecting every conversation." Sasuke remarked placidly after clearing away all the clutter from the bed. but he was realistic: he had grown to need her. "But I can take care of you better. This led him to analyze the months that he'd spent with her since his return. every gesture of affection.She frowned at him. watching her. "I can take care of myself. . she couldn't handle the truth… Sakura was looking at him strangely. and she grumbled mutinously. his arms crossed. to remain with him. annoyed that she questioned his judgment. He had depended upon her. authoritative expression. he would be the one taking care of her. with this reveille. "Fine. everything that he had felt for her. He would work back the metaphorical debt that he had accumulated over the months." She blinked. he had been certain. that she was his mother. it occurred to him just how much he must have missed when he left her.

Tenten had been overcome by envy. even jealousy. Lately.. was different from her—different from all the other kunoichi in the village..soon-ish 'n stuff.oh. BECAUSE SHE HELPS ME DECREASE WORLD SUCK LEVELS BY USING CAPS LOCK. Named. for which there's a link on my profile. Everything Is Alright Sakura.. for whom the world goes round.. teacher's from South Africa. what with her superb chakra control which was essential for healing. genjutsu and healing. Sakura was well on her way to becoming the best and brightest of the female shinobi population. After a while she had realized and accepted that Sakura was better suited to being instructed by Tsunade anyway. Urgh. That is so amazing. ALSO. this didn't come out the way it was supposed to.I actually kind of needed Missa to go and hyperlink it for me. Which will be. while Tenten trained everyday and had been dreaming of such an opportunity for years. like.I suck.. Tenten also knew that Sakura's life wasn't easy—she had a lot to prove and so many to please. I have great news: Missa and I are starting a collab! It shall be amazing. already on track to surpass Tsunade herself. (We're both prone to procrastination. Tenten knew. .) It's under the account CtrlAltFngrl. Seven years previous. I hope. Tenten had been astonished at Sakura's rapid improvement rate. Scott or Suki or something." which makes me squee. I mean). Tenten even remembered how Sakura had approached her a few years earlier. all of whom were born to different women. but I also learned that he has three kids.. but ill feelings for the green-eyed girl had still lingered within Tenten for a little while after that. not only does he say "bugger.. she was a hard worker and a quick learner. and Lee's funeral. Sakura's talks with Neji and Tenten will be in the next chapter. Sakura had accredited it to Tenten's teaching skills. HECK YES. I SAY. it was sometimes commented. but Tenten knew it was because. while Sakura had no natural aptitude in weapons. when we post it. There were rumors circulating that Tsunade was planning on instating her as the Head Medic of . Tenten couldn't help but feel inferior when she compared herself to the younger girl. and none of whom he is married to (the women. she's singularly responsible for the plot in the upcoming chapters.. .. My Algebra teacher is a pimp. I fail.. I hope. but she couldn't even begrudge the other girl her skill—Sakura had trained and studied and worked to evolve into the accomplished person that she was. hahaha. really. CLICK IT. REFUSE..You know. She'd been angry that a twelveyear-old that never trained and was obsessed with a traitor had received the exalted privilege of being mentored by the legendary Godaime.. right? Well.Never again. (Also. when it had been announced that Tsunade had accepted Sakura as her apprentice. MAY HE REST IN PEACE.. But. so.) It's also dedicated to IDontNeedToReply. and you should all read it. BECAUSE SHE LOST HER PLYWOOD TO THE CAUSE. pretty. This chapter is dedicated to Missa. AND BECAUSE SHE SAID I'M A CONNECT-ALL-THE-WORDS-SO-EVERYTHING-SOUNDS-COOLER PIMP. strategy. I was kind of zoning out at the point. wishing for Tenten's aid in practicing her weapons abilities. Unrelated: 1) I refuse to talk about the last chapter. A master of chakra-enhanced strength. but apparently he had a pet hippo. Smart. 2) Not sure if I mentioned this already. but my Alg. talented Sakura was Konoha's golden girl—the role model after which every kunoichi should mold herself..

she had Sasuke. Sakura's green eyes (that had always looked a bit wistful to Tenten) apprehensive and sorrowful. "Sakura. lovely (fake.Konoha General Hospital. staring mistrustfully at Neji. anyway. a voice in the back of Tenten's mind whispered. Sakura wasn't even interested in Neji. but the two words conveyed such grief and guilt and sincerity that. "As you wish." she implored. "It's only making me feel worse. and how Sasuke had placed himself between them and the door as if Sakura's life depended on it. antagonistic atmosphere between Neji and Sasuke that day. and now Neji. She saw the same compassion on Neji's face as well." he told her calmly. Tsunade herself said that she had inspected the boy's body and affirmed that his injuries had been fatal and that there really wasn't anything that Sakura could have done. And there was something…something in the way that her teammate said the other girl's name that made her despair. "It wasn't your fault. Tenten noticed how Neji's eyes softened. and Neji's face matched it in gentleness and concern. So. A crowning achievement. though. please don't say that. reminiscing upon the intense. but…Lee. fake) smile for them before retreating back to the protective circle of Sasuke's arm around her shoulders. too. and that was all the motivation he needed to fight Neji to the death." Sakura's shoulders slumped helplessly. . There's nothing that you could have done. looking up at Neji and Tenten through her long eyelashes. Please. Couldn't the world ever cut Tenten some slack? Sakura paused a moment. she wasn't sure what to think. If Sakura was so special and gifted." he intoned quietly. Sakura finally managed a small. mild misgivings. Tenten shuddered internally. don't feel bad. "It's alright. He. especially taking into account the young medic's already low chakra levels. She considered this broodingly. "Please. Tenten didn't think—and besides." he complied. on the morning of Lee's funeral. earnestly. adding to the pain that she already felt after Lee's death. Tenten recalled the day that she and Neji had visited Sakura in the hospital. Tenten honestly liked the other girl and found her to be wonderful company and a loyal comrade. So Tenten gathered her maturity and composure and smiled softly as the pink-haired medic walked towards them. but with the beginnings of hope. when Sakura (with Sasuke hovering behind her) approached Neji and Tenten on their way to the funeral. Tenten watched their interaction with a mounting sense of foreboding before glancing at Sasuke. why hadn't she been able to save him? Tenten knew that wasn't fair. though it was subtle and only hinted at." Sakura greeted sadly. "Hey. even after her initial. First Lee had been infatuated with Sakura. Tenten felt her heart ache for the medic." Neji regarded her before inclining his head regally. which would make her the youngest to hold the position by more than ten years. with Sasuke right behind her on her left." she said simply. who was fiercely protective and wholly devoted to his green-eyed teammate. seemed disquieted and irritated by the unspoken bond that Neji and Sakura were displaying. Mild gratefulness manifested itself on Sakura's face. coming to a stop in front of them. "I'm sorry.

Sasuke-kun. Sakura responded to his prompting. for Sakura had barely leaned on Sasuke. she imparted to Sasuke that she feared she would have had a breakdown at the podium. killing the enemies but receiving fatal wounds. He had dragged himself near enough to Konoha to be picked up by one of the patrols that had rushed him to the hospital. The sky was predictably and despairingly overcast. allowing Naruto to take Sakura in his own arms. letting herself be engulfed and trusting him to support her. Sasuke correctly interpreted his intention and grudgingly retracted his arm. Naruto on her left. yet she trusted and allowed Naruto to hold her up. He motioned for Naruto (and Hinata. He'd encountered a large group of enemy shinobi near Konoha's borders and engaged in combat. "Stop that. The girl essentially collapsed into him. but apparently he had been attempting to gather some sort of intelligence. His grip on her was firm. Watching this." Naruto rolled his eyes but compliantly loosened his hold. but she stood straight and tall and didn't waver in her resiliency. beginning to walk towards the funeral that was taking place in the clearing near the outskirts of Konoha. and he exerted a slight pressure to urge her on. with Naruto spotting them and meeting them at the middle. the strength of the torrents increasing over time. and Sasuke. as well as Gai (his eyes were obviously red from crying. "You'll hurt her. and Sasuke was beside her.) Although he was only half-listening. . "'M okay. but she had respectfully declined. (Later. They made their way to the clearing gradually. When the funeral began. His frown morphed into a glower when Naruto's arms tightened around her.-Sasuke watched as Sakura smiled at Neji and Tenten. muffled voice. Sakura next to him (still hidden in his arms). and Sasuke was so proud of her. pressing her to his side and trying vainly to alleviate her grief. though Sasuke could see that it cost her a lot. Sakura had been offered the opportunity to make a speech. Among the four of them. Hinata was on the far right. Neji and Tenten also spoke. It was a closed-casket ceremony. but his speech was fiery and passionate and actually quite moving). as did Naruto. at that point unconscious. and Sasuke shortened his strides greatly to accommodate hers. who had followed him) to take their places. The rain continued. The Godaime gave a speech. but still very gentle (he was once again reminded of how frail she was). a smile that was as bright and pretty and false as rhinestones. Sasuke frowned. to do it. and somewhere in the middle of the ceremony it started raining lightly. chilling precipitation. Sasuke heard Sakura's tremulous. Sakura emerged from Naruto's arms and stood by herself. Sasuke gathered that Lee had been on a solo-mission in which the specifics were classified. She looked small and tragic and pale in her black kimono. before she took a step backwards and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. wished fervently that they would get all of the tedious ceremony and pomp over with so that he could remove Sakura from the furious onslaught of unpleasant. both physically and mentally. already made uneasy by how much the funeral led him to thoughts of his parents' death. Naruto nodded and shuffled Sakura along until they were standing in the front row of the black-clad mourners." he ordered harshly." Sasuke grunted disbelievingly and noticed that the funeral was starting.

"Yeah…but I think she'll listen to you more. so Sasuke put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. the mourners dispersing more quickly than normal due to the rain. you need to get her home. "Just…go take care of her. sloshing through the rain." Sasuke nodded slowly. and thus sincerely meant it. He remembered. and tucked her head under his chin. uncomprehending. and quietly began to cry." He paused. staring at the newly-carved kanji. he was overcome with a rush of affection for the distraught young woman before him. she pulled away and shook her head. Sasuke shifted impatiently." Sasuke stared at him. Sasuke was almost hurt. "But she'll listen to you." She hummed despondently. almost affectionately. Naruto grinned at him and jogged off. He had grown accustomed to her always standing strong. by Naruto's opinion. so taken aback was he by Sakura's tears. trying as best he could to shield her from the unforgiving rain." Naruto nodded. pressed her face to his chest." Sasuke glanced at him. why Naruto was his best friend. Sasuke attempted and sorely wished to hurry Sakura home. and after some thought. and Sasuke could perceive her violent shivers from fifty feet off. but when Sasuke reached towards her to help her warm herself. Sasuke smirked. considering his words. Her small hands fisted in the fabric of his ." Naruto sneered at him. actually…touched. for a moment. but Naruto cut him off. always toughing it out without crying…now that she had finally relented and fully dropped her guard around him. his arms hanging limply by his sides. but she refused and went to stand before the stone engraved with the names of shinobi who died in battle. Sasuke and Naruto abided by her wishes and waited for her a little ways off. He'd almost forgotten Naruto's presence when the other boy spoke. Sasuke stood frozen. The silly thing was drenched. opened her mouth…and then closed it." Sasuke nodded assertively and started to speak. She likes me better. She blinked at him once. Finally the funeral drew to a close. Sasuke knew that Naruto wouldn't say something like that just to say it. twice. He slipped his arms around her. Tell her I said goodbye. After half an hour. for a good ten seconds. "I wouldn't go that far. "I mean. and he was appeased when she also evaded Naruto's grasping arm when the blond boy imitated Sasuke's intention a few minutes later. squinting to see her face clearly through the pouring rain. but he realized that she was trying in her own way to appear strong. finally resembling the girl he had known as a child. "We need to get her home. "Of course she will. Her eyes gave insight to so much pain and sorrow that the sight nearly took Sasuke's breath away. staring at her intensely. "Sakura…we need to go. soaked figure of his most precious person and stood beside her. Sasuke approached the hunched. Shell-shocked. drawing her close. punched Naruto in the shoulder. This was the first time that he had seen her cry since he returned. in a way.The girl was shivering.

She shook her head once. Sakura shot him a grateful look and climbed in. and disappeared to his own in order to also clean himself up. Sakura was lying on her bed in clean pajamas. and had heard Sakura's quiet. "Hey. Sick of feeling helpless. these sobs were not loud. Without giving her a chance to speak. Sasuke drew her to him so that he could secure both of his . almost suffocating herself in the process." Sasuke said. and. "Are you hungry?" Along with gifts. folding herself into the fetal position. Unlike most of the times that he had witnessed her cry. baring space at the other end of the bed. Sasuke shifted so that she was tucked to his side under his arm and whisked her out of the clearing. Right now it would be better to just let her sleep. He knocked on her bedroom door an hour later and poked his head in. her hair wet and her face blank. miserable form. and then hesitated. "Goodnight. and were not the selfish tears of a little girl. This did actually seem to help. Sakura bit her lip and nodded. When her cries subsided. timid footsteps as she approached his bed around eleven-thirty that night. "Alright. He could tell that she was trying to muffle the sound as much as possible. were not wailing. She stood before him. Sasuke deposited her in her bathroom so that she could shower. knew what she was going to ask. Sasuke considered pushing her to eat. and. "I couldn't sleep. attempting to soothe her. clearly not trusting Sasuke to be able to cook for himself. simply to comfort her and remind her of his presence." Sasuke whispered before closing the door. "…Come get me if you need me. She clutched it.black shirt. he turned on his side so that he could see her. -"Sasuke-kun…?" Sasuke had woken up the instant that the door to his room had opened." she whispered. his left hand began rubbing her back. she gradually unfolded herself from the fetal position and seemed more at ease. almost of its own accord. but still seemed very distressed. Sasuke moved over. Sakura leaned her head against his shoulder and allowed him to ferry her back to the manor. now that Sakura needed bed-rest. but decided against it. Upon hearing his name. after taking one look at her face." Sasuke murmured." He allowed his concern for her to be evident upon his face. Sasuke's response was to pull the blanket up and over her curled up. -Once they stepped inside. her arms wrapped around her legs. just barely illuminated by the pale mockery of moonlight streaming through his window. people had sent them plastic Tupperware container upon plastic Tupperware container of food that could be heated up in the microwave. Emboldened by this. Sasuke carefully draped one of his arms across her midriff.

but in actuality the idea of just lying there with Sakura in his arms was very appealing to him. HECK YEAH.Haha.. 'N stuff.. because he indirectly said hi to me. "You…you smell goo d. you know? Also. I dunno. and later she contradicted it.arms around her. up there in the beginning Sakura seemed kind of Mary Sue-ish. thinking of nothing in particular save for how nice the feeling of Sakura's pastel locks between his fingers was. I guess. instead placing her hands against his chest and nuzzling his collar-bone. to the ends and then back through again. "Sleep well.. instead remaining still and prone. And just so everyone's clear. keeping her pressed firmly to himself. you know what I just realized? Sasuke cried in this story before Sakura. Sakura's arms were curled around Sasuke's torso and her head rested on the bicep of his left arm.. Unrelated: 1) Chapter 417--egad. He told himself that it was to ensure that he didn't disturb Sakura's sleep. toying with a strand of Sakura's hair. just to mix things up a bit. . yeeeeeah. He'd always been a selfish person.. but that's just sort of Tenten's perception. "…Sasuke-kun?" Sakura's voice was so small that.. and his left arm bent at the elbow in order to keep his hand threaded through her hair.. Ish? Hahaha. Everything Is Alright Sasuke blinked into consciousness a bit after the sun rose the next morning. His right arm was cinched around her waist. though--the one Missa wrote. 2) Fall For You (the fanfic Missa and I are writing) is up! First chapter only. but she really does like Sakura. Sasuke impaled the lizard-y thing! ANIMAL CRUELTY. So I threw Tenten's POV in there..." he bade her. Um. Rock on. but didn't push her. that just amuses me.grr. And so he lay there. I take no responsibility for any resulting seizures and/or heart attacks.. I WARNED YOU ABOUT THE FLUFF. It made him recall a time when Sakura's hair was much longer —a time when Sasuke had been so quick to misprize her. She didn't struggle. Also dedicated to Bonk. He smirked faintly into her hair. Sasuke mused darkly. he barely heard her. Be amazed. . had so grossly undervalued her. She came out kind of bitter and hostile. He ran his fingers through her hair. Chapter 2 (written by me) should be up this weekend. It made my entire existence. I think. And you know what bothers me? Karin actually looks kind of good with a ponytail. Sasuke knew that that was not what she had intended to say. "I…" She tried again. even in the silence of the bedroom." she finished before pressing her face to his throat. He didn't get up. because she made the latest chapter of Forgive But Never Forget spectacularly full of SasuSaku-ness. and she was just kind of grieving and figuring thinks out. Their positions had shifted a bit during the night. HEY! Look over here! This chapter was dedicated to mrie. "Yeah?" She hesitated before speaking.

however. imagining Sakura's face. he mused. . letting her warmth burn away the terrible nausea that his dark thoughts brought. which worried him as it indicated that her fever was high. Sasuke supposed. high color was suffused over her cheeks. For the time being. displeased by how easily the smallest of Sakura's actions could affect him. he lied to himself. It wasn't fair to her. her face was much too warm. The past was inconsequential. he could have convinced her to come home. and he'd been so reluctant to do or say anything that upset her. But no. the first time he refused her something she wanted. Sasuke decided. but if ever there was a miracle. Sure enough. No longer. he had become soft and indulgent around Sakura. pressing his cheek to Sakura's warm. he resolved. but he kept his voice tempered to a harsh whisper. But he was weak. had chosen him time and time again. Sakura had forgiven him —forgiven him for how he had treated her. but she hadn't acquiesced. making it appear either as if she were blushing heavily… Or she had a fever.Sasuke frowned broodingly and leaned forward. he was already disquieted by it. and this time he would dredge up whatever he could find in himself to give—anything and everything and whatever Sakura wanted. loving him when he knew he'd never be good enough for her. he would suck her dry of all her kindness. unbidden. Sasuke did actually swear vocally at this. Sasuke made a face. foregoing what he knew was best in order to make her happy. He growled inwardly. so he had come back and latched onto her again. He would leave her empty and broken again. settling her head against his collar-bone and thus freeing his left arm. a deep flush suffused over much of her face. If the stupid little twerp hadn't insisted on standing in the rain for so long. Sasuke had learned from his mistakes. He would take care of her this time. If he were a stronger person. Sasuke's thoughts were broken off when he finally realized that Sakura's face wasn't just sleepflushed—while the rest of her face was unnaturally pallid. Sakura sighed peacefully and snuggled deeper into his embrace. he wouldn't have allowed her to become attached to him again. it was that someone like Sakura could accept someone as corrupted and defiled as Sasuke into her heart. He brushed her bangs away from her face and put his hand on her forehead. plaintive and accusatory. this problem wouldn't exist. knowing that if he had tried hard enough. Sakura was frighteningly intelligent—surely she must have seen something in him. he resolved. If he didn't get a hold of himself. all her concern and all her love. some last drop of uncorrupted humanity in him that he himself could not as of yet find. Sakura's health came before her happiness. Sasuke's mouth quirked up. he thought disparagingly. Sasuke clamped his teeth together to keep from swearing audibly as he re-arranged Sakura in his arms. Although he knew that his resolution was justified. Sakura had made her choice. He had tried to bring her home. Sasuke didn't believe in any higher beings. She even loved him. As he had realized in the hospital. for how he had abandoned her. He hadn't. weak and selfish and just so greedy. Besides. pressing his cheek closer to Sakura's. Like a leech. because Sakura had wanted to stay. he must be worth it—must be worth her. If Sakura believed in him. Heat seemed almost to be rolling in torrid waves off her body. sleepflushed one.

her eyelids drooping. leaving Sasuke in a less than benevolent and considerate mood. partially resting her weight against his hip in the way that mothers held children. Inside. I mean. the sudden empathy between them almost tangible. Sasuke-kun." He thought back to the early Team Seven—Kakashi. "I know. so he had to cradle her in one arm. prompting Sasuke to immediately curse his foolishness for saying something that reminded her of Lee and his funeral. knowing that it was true but still so afraid to acknowledge it and have that terrible chasm of loss form in his chest again out of spite." he told her. "Yeah." Sasuke's face softened as he looked at her—lying in her bed. childish but so irreplaceable. Sasuke regretted his words. right?" she asked him after a moment of easy. Sakura winced minutely. I just…it's so hard. her eyes wide with hurt. . aloof but so reliable." Sasuke nodded. Sakura hummed in agreement. The door to Sakura's bedroom was closed. and Sasuke walked toward the door after tapping his knuckles to her forehead affectionately. "Yeah. "You have no one to blame but yourself. he knew. listening to her breathe." she sighed." Sasuke said bluntly. ghosting out of his bedroom and through the silent. her cheeks flushed with fever. "The…the ache. as he used his other hand to open the door. -"This sucks. She offered him a quiet sigh. Sakura's mouth parted in surprise. Because.With a heavy heart. "You have to move on." She opened her eyes to meet his own. Sasuke gathered her in his arms and slipped free of the bed and its covers. She'd caught a cold along with her fever. he sat down on the floor. and her hair sticking up and disheveled from the many times that she had tossed and turned when Sasuke returned her to her own bed. He considered his words carefully before adding. I'm sorry. Still… "You're going to have to get over it at some point. and Sakura. "It's easier if you have…help. When all he could see was her face peeking over the staggering mound of covers. wadded-up tissue into the waste-basket beside her bed. he placed her on the bed and proceeded to drape blanket after blanket over her. companionable silence. seeing that she needed rest. which has not pleased her when she woke some four hours earlier. obnoxious but so earnest. leaning against the bed. the world would end if Sakura stopped breathing." Her mouth closed and her lips quirked upward in a sad. rueful smile. Naruto." he said cautiously. but there was no going back now. the words slipping from his mouth without his consent. her eyes shut. Sasuke rose from the bed. Lee's funeral has brought memories of his clan's demise to the surface. The trash-stowing apparatus was already almost full of discarded tissues." Sasuke informed her blandly from where he perched on the extreme end of her bed. chilly hallways. her eyes glowing quietly. "Yeah. "Sleep now. Sitting around moping doesn't help." Sakura mumbled as she threw a used. "It gets better. I know.

"You're strong. she fumbled for words. which. Before he left for good. "You…" he paused. All he'd done was refuse to let her go outside. trying to reign in the impulse to tear his hair out. "Yeah. was only wearing slippers." he blurted out awkwardly. …And then she kicked him in the shin. I do. made her face completely red (clashing magnificently with her pink hair). happy smile and feel the warmth of her gaze. "It's cold outside. It wasn't fair that she could say his name like that. Sakura's face automatically upturned to look at him. her eyes flashing brilliantly with anger. and he smirked down at her. "Only for a little while. The situation speaks for itself. clutching at her foot. he said haltingly." she wheedled. Tearing herself from his grasp. totally abandoned her. practically martyred expression. early-afternoon sunlight creeping timidly through the blinds in her window. "No. Sakura. spat in her face. fervently desiring to be better with words. He was just wondering whether to bring her some ice when Sakura accidentally stepped on the hem of her too-long pajama pants." He clenched his fists together. knowing that she'd be able to sucker him into even taking her to Antarctica if he did." She tugged at his sleeve imploringly. Hard. Sakura. the kick was actually quite weak and Sasuke barely felt any pain." -She was giving him the look he had dreaded—all big. She blushed furiously. Sasuke casually looped an arm around her shoulders and steadied her against himself. "You think so?" she whispered almost wistfully. "Sasuke-kun. pale. "Just to get some fresh air—it'll be good for me. "You'll get through this. could use it against him —could make it sound like he had abused her in every way possible. "No." Sasuke glared at her. Sasuke pointedly avoided looking into her eyes. but he could make out the whiteness of her small. sad green eyes and a forlorn." Sasuke said for the third time. and the forceful contact with Sasuke's hard shin left her hopping around on one leg. And that's final.He flicked off the light switch. honestly ringing adamantly in his words." ." he finished quietly. however. his silence thoughtful. Sakura…" "Hmm?" came her drowsy reply. It sent her reeling off-balance and flailing manically to remain upright. you'll see." She fisted her small hands. "And. combined with her fever. "I—…you…you suck. leaving her bedroom dim but not dark. You're sick. and then flushed her goldfish down the toilet just for effect. He smiled faintly. Sasuke couldn't see Sakura clearly in the gloom. Without the aid of chakra or her usual healthy vigor.

She was his most precious person. take care of her. came before anything and everything else. Sasuke-kun. and he had been so amazed (though he'd hidden it well) by how thoroughly she had changed while still remaining the same in the ways that mattered to him. Slowly. fear that if she gave it up. Eventually Sasuke realized that Sakura was so adamant about her independence out of fear. With her affinity for taking care of everyone and everything while neglecting herself. but at the time he'd chosen to believe that it hadn't. And then he had begun to spend time with her—with Sakura. of his little Sasuke-universe. She mattered the most. muttering fiercely under her breath about the injustice of it all and how invalids got no respect these days.With those eloquent parting words. Sakura was probably the most stubbornly independent person he knew. but it still seemed as if she drew lines that said Okay. effortlessly. she would revert to her old ways of always depending on others to protect her. even when Sasuke first returned. defend her. it occurred to Sasuke that the point at which he really and truly began to care about Sakura strongly was indistinct. useless. At first Sasuke had thought that she resisted his help because she didn't trust him. having her move in with him. he abandoned the theory. "I don't want to feel useless and pathetic anymore. but so far arguing with her about them was getting him nowhere. Sakura was sometimes a very difficult person to care for—to love. Sakura became the center of his world. Maybe it still had." He couldn't help but be proud of her will-power. more of his assistance. Somewhere in the beginning of that stretch of time. however—he wasn't exactly the easiest person to care for either. this is what I have to do by myself. His next was that she so rigidly retained her independence out of pride. Unforced. and Sasuke wouldn't give her up for anything. Natural. when he returned. Sasuke's feelings for her began to grow and change. She was afraid of being helpless. and he was aware of it. Even if she was being a petulant child over being confined to the indoors. and somewhere in his musings. Sasuke knew it was hypocritical of him to dwell on it. that wasn't the real reason behind it. Taking care of her was even more difficult. When he saw that she denied everyone else's assistance just as much and actually in a lot of cases more so. if only because she had been his teammate and once-upon-a-time that had meant something to him. At the very beginning it had been awkward. Sasuke disagreed with many of her metaphorical lines. Over time she'd gradually come to accept more of his help. unable to do anything. Sasuke resignedly waited until she had slammed shut the door to her room before exhaling slowly and running a hand through his hair. When he'd first returned to the village. he'd regarded Sakura simply as someone to protect. but after that. spending basically all of his time with her felt… Easy. . she spun on her heel and stalked away. dammit. He'd realized about as much that day in the attic. gradually. while he decided that she was rather proud of her independence.

His first instinct was to leave. smirking. tucking herself into his side with her head on his shoulder—her favorite spot. "You're so annoying. He concentrated and realized that she was walking towards the door. and all had told Sasuke to take care of her. She'd been asleep when he came. was uncomfortable enough with one kiss. On his way out the door he'd drawled. Abruptly the silver-haired man had snapped his book shut and stood looking at Sakura. so for two hours he had sat near her bed reading his book while Sasuke had looked on disapprovingly. Sasuke slid to sit on the floor outside of Sakura's bedroom." Kakashi said. Sasuke shifted to accommodate her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders." She glanced up at him timidly. He drew Sakura closer. and kissed his forehead softly. Sasuke-kun. "How are you feeling?" he asked after a moment of comfortable silence. scrunching up her nose in distaste. drawing her closer so that he could tuck her head under his chin. "You better not tell me to take care of her. The door opened and Sakura peeked her head out. she cringed and shuffled out to sit beside him. Kakashi had offered him that funny smile of his. Around an hour or so later." he told her. "I'm sorry. Sasuke. As if he wouldn't if they didn't tell him to. almost as if daring him. "I know you'll take care of her. in fact nothing short of awe-inspiring.Fancying himself a martyr. tilted her head. Sasuke hesitated a moment before gingerly dropping a kiss to her temple. "No. "Sasuke…" Sasuke had glared at him. so he refused to be drawn into her game and instead buried his face in her hair. and Sasuke had seen that Kakashi had been serious about it." All of that day people had been in and out visiting Sakura. his expression something akin to parental affection. thinking of the day that Kakashi had come to visit Sakura in the hospital. Sakura blinked up at him. Reflecting back upon it. Seeing that she was forgiven for her behavior. she mumbled sheepishly. She arched an eyebrow at him. she scooted closer to him. Ducking her head. Sasuke could only hope that he could live up to Kakashi's confidence. but his decidedly stayed where he was. His full and unconditional dedication to her was definitely laudable. determined to be at the ready in case she needed anything." In response. "Awful. . She made a face. When she found him sitting outside her room." For a moment Sasuke and Kakashi had locked eyes. however. nonchalantly leaning against the wall. Sasuke rolled his eyes and flicked her forehead gently. waiting for his reaction. Sasuke's keen hearing detected motion in Sakura's room. drawing her knees to her chest.

Just 'cause I've been sick forever and I want someone else to share my pain. Oh. restless and ill at ease. No Sasuke. the sharp. but it always crept up on him when he lied alone in his bed at night. painful angles of her body were already softening. He vowed that he would make the most of Sakura's remaining time with him—and so he spent all the time he could with her. He savagely pushed away the grim notion whenever he could. lulled into a peaceful calm by the sound of her breathing. but they both benefited from the company of the other. and others she lied in bed all day. and quiet words. It was as if Sasuke could almost see her struggling to move on. Sometimes Sakura would simply lean against him and draw strength from him. regaining her strength from the long months she had spent with little rest. He became her unobtrusive. like. They didn't talk much. soft glances. As I said. and the dark shadows under her eyes were gradually fading away. not quite hovering. but at the end it kind of came together-ish. the Uchiha manor fell into a silent gloom without her persistent cheerfulness to brighten it. Which I tried!to apply to this chapter. and Sakura gets sick. Basically. Sakura would be moving out and leaving him to be alone. right? And suddenly this walnut-thing falls on my head and hurts like hell. Unrelated: 1) Um. see her taking those first shaky steps on the uncertain. . Always with her. which is never fun. Took him. Sakura seemed to be taking Sasuke's advice to heart. Although she was still saddened and disheartened by Lee's death. Still. 2) So I was riding my horse earlier today. Everything Is Alright With Sakura sick.what can I say? I'm a sucker for a pretty face. It kind of bored me. It can all be explained in two words that you will hear very often around where I live: goddamn squirrels. Some times she paced the room like a caged tiger. Her physical health was already showing improvement.. He was glad that he could repay the favor. Er. right? I think. Sasuke began holing himself up in either Sakura's bedroom or his own.. as the now dim. where he would watch her sleep for the remainder of the night. what with him being the main character that the manga was named after and whatnot. always there. practically every night. Yeah. (coughSASUKEcough) Ahem. deserted hallways and rooms reminded him much too much that in less than two months. ever-watchful guardian. and then more start falling on us. Ohoh. gradual road to recovery. as Sasuke had often done to her in the months before. Dedicated to indira14 because she gave me some kick-ass constructive criticism.. It's really pretty sad that I usually skip over the scenes about Naruto.So I really wasn't sure where I was going with this when I was writing it. he forewent his own sleep and ghosted into Sakura's room. depressed. and Sasuke's getting more expressive with his affection. actually. It was in this way that they spent the first week of Sakura's month off-duty. Sakura's spirits typically remained comparatively low —she was usually either restless or listless. twenty chapters. I've been sick. Her emotional health was another matter.. Sasuke thinks and emos a lot. but always present. Sasuke aided her mood with gentle touches. That was why. and confined to bed. My horse starts freaking out. actually not a lot to say about the latest chapter--417.

Sakura-chan's kinda…delicate right now. "Because I can tell when you're not happy. wishing that he was as assured as he sounded. The smile slipped from her face like a slate wiped clean. He chanced a glance at her face—her eyes were closed in sudden mental weariness. He brought it up one morning when she smiled her rhinestone-smile while they were having tea." he directed reasonably." Sasuke declared confidently. For a while now. watching the shipping-employees set up the magnificent grand piano in one of the deserted rooms of the manor. now he wasn't so sure. entirely fake smile that she had given Neji and Tenten before the funeral—her rhinestone-smile. it won't. It was a smile that could cure cancer." Sakura sulked half-heartedly." Sasuke rolled his eyes and flicked her forehead as he cleared away their cups. I can't just become happy. "And besides.What displeased him was how Sakura tried to feign happiness for his sake. . stirring his tea meticulously and studiously avoiding her eyes." she stated mournfully." he told her quietly. an idea forming in his brain. "and I want you to be happy so badly. That Sakura thought she could fool him with a fake smile irked him. and while she had seemed to sincerely enjoy it the night that they were at her parents' house. -"Are you sure about this?" Naruto queried hesitantly." Sasuke enlightened simply. "Smiling when you don't want to. Sakura had quit playing the piano years ago. a smile that was warmer and brighter than all her others. "That's your own fault. her face becoming guarded. she had never even mentioned it again after that." Sasuke shrugged. While he had been sure that ordering the piano to be delivered to the manor for Sakura (without telling her beforehand) had been a good idea. "Then become happy. often offering him the same pretty. "Something better. and this might upset her. taking a small sip of the hot beverage before setting it down silently. a smile that made him feel like he was indeed her most precious person. "You're going to buy me a pony before my birthday?" Sasuke smirked faintly." He paused a moment before asserting carefully. Sasuke had liked to believe that Sakura had a special smile just for him—a smile she gave him when he and he alone did something that made her happy." "No. a smile that was wonderfully. "Doing what?" she asked cautiously. "I mean. "I'll help you. "You don't have to keep doing that." Her voice was muffled. her expression melancholy. "But you're not happy when I'm not happy." he promised her. dazzlingly genuine. as she had put her head down on her folded arms.

honestly. I'll go get Sakura-chan. stung by the truth in Naruto's words. willing his doubts away. "Ick-ish. Sometime during his mental deliberation. but Naruto interrupted again. do I have to separate you two?" she admonished through a yawn. . but the spark of understanding and warmth in Naruto's eyes made him grudgingly reconsider. slightly bitter. Sakura came shuffling towards them. either. If Sakura didn't want to play it. he'd get rid of it." Naruto decided. When she felt good. as hard as that is for you to accept. "How are you feeling?" he quizzed." Sasuke claimed instead. "Don't shout in her ear. tell her that there are muffins in the kitchen. The two boys broke out in a minor scuffle. intent on giving the blonde instructions on how to properly wake her up." Sasuke nodded. and "Ick-ish" was not good. Sakura had gotten over the worst of her sickness a few days ago. equal parts amused and annoyed. He had figured out that Sakura had her own vocabulary for how she was feeling. And—" Naruto cut him off. "Sakura-chan has always loved you the most. but not particularly bad." Naruto informed him mercilessly. The dark-eyed boy stiffened visibly. Sasuke signed one last form and they departed. You're not the only one she needs and cares about. his voice just slightly. And if she resented him…he'd deal with that. health-wise: "Ugh-ish" was very bad. relieved. she answered with some sarcastic remark. "I —" he started. Sakura shrugged. his eyes narrowing and his hackles raised. but Sasuke still worried. and Sasuke jerked in a movement that was either a flinch or a twitch. "Right. do you know that sometimes you act like you're the only person in the world that knows Sakura-chan—that can take care of her? Because you're not. only to have his hand swiped away. he told himself. rubbing her eyes. it doesn't mean you're the only one that can take care of her. shake her shoulder—gently. If it upset her." Naruto conveyed slowly. If she refuses to get up. and just as Sasuke was finally managing to get the blue-eyed boy in a headlock. where she was currently taking a nap. Sasuke released Naruto and was by her side instantly. salvaging the tattered scraps of his ego. well. but a minor cold still remained. he lied to himself. "Bleck-ish" was bad. He could deal with that. "Boys. he would find a way to make her feel better. Naruto laughed and tried to ruffle Sasuke's hair as he had seen Sakura do. the workers had finished setting up the piano. dead-last. and made to bound through the halls to Sakura's bedroom. "Just because. She squinted blearily at them. Sasuke grabbed his arm.What if having the piano did upset her in some way? What if she resented him for bringing back an element of her life that she might not want back? What if she just simply didn't want to play it anymore? Sasuke clenched and unclenched his fists. Get over yourself. "I never have any idea what you're blabbering about. It wasn't anything serious." Sasuke opened his mouth to retort angrily. "Sasuke.

and she turned to Sasuke hopefully. Sakura-chan." she scoffed. He pulled her to him in a one-armed hug. "No. threatening gaze.Sakura's attention was diverted to Naruto. most prominently the lovely. Sakura breathed out a soft gasp when she beheld the magnificent grand piano displayed elegantly in the center of the room. "A goat." she insisted. "I give up. very carefully. "The bastard has a surprise for you. "Muffins?" Sasuke sighed at her predictability. Naruto grinned at her. and Naruto left. "That's not the surprise. moving to hug him. Once he had stored away the image in his mind. "What're you doing here?" she asked him curiously. I'm bored of this game. . cowed by Sasuke's stern. he—" she began." Naruto cut her off. did you really get me a pony?" He rolled his eyes." Sasuke said softly. Sasuke-kun. he announced. Once he was gone. The green-eyed medic blinked at him before flitting to Sasuke's side and tugging on his sleeve like a child begging for candy. a welcome change from her dejected expression. Sakura tugged on Sasuke's sleeve again." He saluted Sasuke comically." Naruto told her before she could hurry to the kitchen. its backdrop a large window overlooking the grounds behind the manor. then?" Sasuke stared at her. taking her up in his arms and spinning her around once. The orange-clad boy glared and crossed his arms over his chest. "It's the bastard's special gift for you. though. Sasuke took a moment to savor the way her curiosity and eagerness lit up her face. traditional pond. very. "I helped you order it and I don't even get to stay and see her face when you show it to her?" "Sasuke-kun. "Sasuke-kun. then. "What do you think?" She pouted before brightening. "There's some in the kitchen." "I'll show you." he informed her. before staring hard at Naruto." Sasuke smirked at him and nodded by way of farewell. if Naruto wants to stay. When he set her down." Sasuke rethought. leading her inside. "Pleasure to be of service. Sometimes it was better to just humor Sakura and not try to understand how her mind worked. it's fine. he nodded and guided her to the room where the shipping-employees had set it up. She blew her bang out of her eyes." Sakura's eyes brightened. "I wanna see. kissing her cheek. "Why would I get you a goat?" "Because goats are amazing. "Um…did you get me a train set? A clock? Clothes? Shoes? A guide to building your own lawn ornaments?" "Why would…never mind.

"If you want it. causing the tips of his ears to go red. and then again to Sasuke. she whispered. bewildered. Sitting at the stool. She seemedpleasantly surprised. unsure if he was crossing some invisible line. but the overall affect was breathtaking." He smiled as well. this one was hard and fierce and conveyed such emotion that Sasuke stood frozen. and Sasuke was baffled that she thought she had to ask his permission. but with Sakura you never knew… She gaped at him. and Sasuke decided that she had never looked so lovely." An incredulous giggle slipping from her lips. "Thank you.Her lips parted in surprise and wonder. overcome by her happiness—by the happiness he had instilled in her. "Tch. Listening to her play and skating his fingertips over the spot where Sakura had kissed him. "Do you like it?" he ventured. "…Can I?" she inquired. and." Sasuke affirmed slowly. "Would you like to play it?" Sasuke hazarded. Sakura experimentally played a scale before launching into a melody that Sasuke had never heard. Sakura stuck her tongue out at him playfully as she approached the piano. "Of course you can. stuffing his hands in his pockets awkwardly. don't get sentimental. He shrugged. the notes plink-plinking brightly. although fierce pleasure and pride were already building in his chest. but the only thing she managed to vocalize was a strangled "Wh—…how…Sasuke-kun…?" Sasuke shifted on his feet. Sasuke-kun. regarding Sakura carefully. her fingers fumbled a few times because of being out-of-practice for so long. her green eyes flickered to Sasuke. drinking in the palpable joy between them and simply gazing at the beautiful instrument. shocked. "It's yours. smiling faintly." he muttered. As with before. They stood silently for many long minutes. She ran her fingertips over it almost reverently. Sasuke mustered all the bravado and nonchalance that he could in order to maintain his unaffected demeanor. "Yeah. Unlike most of her other kisses. "Do I…how could you even…" she trailed off and shook her head." in his ear. Sasuke closed his eyes. Words formed on her lips. It was light and fast-paced. Before she pulled away from him. back to the piano. Sakura blinked as if she hadn't expected that she'd get to play it. and Sasuke decided once and for all that getting the piano for her had been a good idea. "Yeah." He added quickly. Embarrassed. Sakura's face lit up." he mumbled. "You like it. she pressed up against him and kissed him dangerously close to his mouth. ." she smiled softly. willed the moment to last forever. tentatively. unsure of what to make of her reaction. For the first time in a week.

I read the raw. as the dark-haired boy's eyes slid to Naruto. But man. Naruto grinned at her and Sasuke shook his head. and I was all like "Enh. this was kindasorta-ish closer? Than I've come before. well. frickingawesome Roses of Sharon for beta-ing hey angel girl. Sakura-chan's tough—she'll get through this. So I kind of rushed through this chapter in order to post it before the day was up-BECAUSE IT'S MISSA'S BIRTHDAY. his black-as-ink eyes soft. Many." he said. Bow down to my awesomeness. you should all be proud of me. You could see it in her expression when she looked at Sasuke. "What?" she queried self-consciously. Naruto and Sasuke were sitting at the ramen stand while Sakura chatted with a woman (a former patient. Naruto never tired of observing Sasuke and Sakura's interactions. Naruto gathered) some ten feet away. "Mmkay. Anyway." so I'll get around to reading the translated version later. HELL YEAH." Naruto smiled. the way his attention always defaulted to her. and now this.. Naruto wasn't sure that Sakura would ever truly understand how much she meant to them. picking up her chopsticks and starting on her ramen. I mean. "A lot better. I'd like to take this time to profusely thank the superspecial. The corners of his lips turned up. Serious." The topic seemed to warrant Sasuke's attention. clambering up onto her stool. You asked for a make-out session.while definitely far from a make-out session. slurping down some noodles. Sakura tilted her head to the side slightly and regarded Sasuke thoughtfully before shrugging acceptingly. Yeah. but still present. "Nothing. Naruto understood Sasuke's dismissive answer—explaining both of their need to watch Sakura would be difficult. manymanymany thanks. and. Because that story would have been doomed without her. but then rested upon Sakura again. Sasuke's feelings were more evident—the way he always insisted on being with her. Unrelated: 1) So I'm happy. I posted a oneshot that is kindamaybepossibly companion!fic-ish to this on Wednesday. Everything Is Alright A few days later. She blinked when she noticed both Naruto and Sasuke watching her." Sasuke replied quietly. "Awesome.. Naruto noticed. uncomfortable." Sasuke nodded absently. Sakura walked back to Naruto and Sasuke. hear it in her voice when she spoke to him. no problem. "She's better.Haha. frou frou coffee drinks at Borders. For. SCORE-NESS. "So. Sasuke's gaze settled unwaveringly on Sakura the entire time." she hummed. yeah. 2) I haven't really gotten around to reading chapter 420 yet. Dedicated to Missa. I believe." Naruto began. Sakura's were different—more subtle. whatever. Because she is amazing and incredible and awesome and seventeen and I love her eternally. Naruto was still somewhat amazed by how utterly devoted Sasuke was to her. still there.. right? Because earlier today I engaged in my favorite pastime: blowing all of my money on books and overpriced. Miss.. "how's Sakura-chan been doing since you got her the piano? Because she seems a lot happier. spoke of .. Even after everything.. Having bidden the woman goodbye. and then I posted Missa's gift!fic this morning.

"You wanted to pick up more kunai. Thank you?" Sakura replied. or just weirded out. Naruto exhaled dramatically and slung an arm around Sakura's shoulders." she reassured him." He turned to Sakura and said seriously. scream and I'll come get you." she agreed. "No offense. instantly narrowed his eyes at him. but you don't look like you'd taste very good.him. but it was there. She turned to Sasuke. "So what's up?" she asked calmly. her expression wavering between startled and wary. right. "Why?" he asked again. "Yeah. It was most definitely there. The set of his mouth demonstrated his displeasure." he ordered sternly. That realization might have been what prompted Naruto (after they'd all finished eating) to announce. Is that so wrong?" "She's not—" Sasuke tried to deny hotly. we all know about your issues with sharing. "If he does anything stupid. Naruto's vocabulary failed at dredging up a word to describe it." Naruto scoffed. bastard. Sasuke. but Sasuke wouldn't go against Sakura's wishes. I need to talk to you alone." "…Um." Naruto waved a hand breezily. which was what he did best. which was very close to Ichiraku. the lilt in her voice suggesting that she was undecided on whether to be offended. Sakura humored him and nodded. Sakura appeased him by slipping from Naruto's arm and rising up to kiss Sasuke's forehead. "Because I want time alone with my Sakura-chan. "Why?" he challenged. "I'm not going to eat her or anything. who had been laying down money on the counter to cover their bill. Naruto opened his mouth." Sasuke spared one more sulky glance at Naruto before entering the weapons store. not in the mood for their juvenile. enjoying his ability to push Sasuke's buttons. flattered. Sakura's eyes flitted back and forth between the two boys. Sakura shifted her attention to Naruto. Sasuke stared at her sullenly. "Relax. Sasuke-kun? How about you go in the weapons store and get them while Naruto and I talk outside?" Sakura compromised reasonably. obviously wondering whether she should head off what might evolve into a fight. Sasuke-kun. "You love that bastard. "Why?" . and then decided to get straight to the point. Sakura blinked. Naruto shrugged amiably. "Yeah. Sakura-chan." Sasuke refused to be dissuaded. "Guys…" Sakura warned. "Don't mention it. but was cut off. "Of course. quite clearly feeling betrayed. closed it." Sasuke. don't you?" Naruto posed confidently. yeah. repetitive bickering. "It won't take long. He tapped his knuckles to her forehead. "Sakura-chan.

" Seeing that he had at least made a little headway. Just drop it." he understated. even if he's not completely sure of it yet. I mean. Naruto laid a steadying hand on her shoulder. he had started it. You're wrong. "He loves you. reaching a hand out to her. "I'm not. "No." he maintained. "I said I don't want to talk about it. but that prick is my best friend. Refusing to be deterred." she asserted. "I told you to drop it." Sakura flinched and ducked her head." She flinched again. "Sakura-chan. realizing her incomprehension. "You're wrong. We're going to talk this through. But…" Naruto trailed off a little dazedly. so tell me honestly: do you or don't you love Sasuke?" Sakura tried to glare at him while making as if to take a step backwards." It dawned on Naruto that the conversation was setting her on a fast track to becoming very upset." He said it so easily. Naruto winced. which was progress. and I like to think that I know him pretty well. Hard to believe. and now he was going to see it through till the end. pressing her forehead to his shoulder. "Stop it. He may not make you do anything you don't want to do. Even if Sasuke killed him for making her cry." he said firmly. "I won't drop it." He raised his hands as if trying to placate a wild animal. "You're not in love with him?" . "I'm not…" Naruto's brow furrowed. but then leaned into Naruto's touch. away from him. "Sasuke-kun doesn't love me. Naruto. Still. She stiffened but did not shy away. Easy. She moved away.Naruto shook his head. Naruto murmured. Why is that so hard to believe?" "Because I'm not…" Sakura struggled. Hey. Y'know? The way I love Hinata-chan." she commanded. "And you know what? I don't think that anyone has ever loved someone as much as Sasuke loves you. Naruto shook his head again. too ill at ease. remember? You can talk to me. Sakura-chan. although a bit apologetically. "Naruto…why would you…? I…I don't really want to talk about this. "You're wrong…" she reiterated. but Sakura appeared as if he'd punched her in the gut. "Sasuke's too soft with you. but her words were laced with the barest sliver of doubt. you love him. her hair slipping forward to conceal her face. Not when my two teammates are obviously in love with each other but both too self-depreciating and blind to realize it. but I'm not letting you off that easily. and he realized that he'd probably brought the subject up too soon after Lee's death—she was still too vulnerable now. Sakura-chan. Naruto made an effort to soften his voice. "Nope. as if that finished the conversation. It's okay." Sakura managed a glare. so casually. Sakura-chan. before venturing shakily. "I'm not wrong. He never did. She stared at him in silence for a full minute. It's me. "Have you seen the way he looks at you? The way he acts around you? I'd never thought that Sasuke could show so much emotion unless it was anger or hatred." she whispered.

"He loves you. Sakura looked back one last time at Naruto. the Sakura who was unsure and anxious and unconfident. "I am…in love with him. holding a package of what Naruto assumed to be kunai. the place they both called home. "Really. One of his hands retracted while the other repositioned itself accordingly so that his arm was curled protectively around her. I'm…I'm scared. his hand on her shoulder. With a quick parting word to Naruto. Sakura chanced looking into his eyes. right. And I know without a doubt that Sasuke feels the same about you. but not before you tell him yourself. "Yeah. I can't. which in all honesty was a first. Then he was by her side. "Sakura-chan just realized she's not feeling well. before feeling the need to crack a joke. I'm so scared." Sakura uttered. "What happened?" Sakura wouldn't meet his eyes." Finally. Sakura detached her face from his chest and looked up at him. The blonde shrugged. He frowned disapprovingly." It occurred to Naruto that he was talking to the Sakura of seven years ago. He thinks that just keeping your friendship is better than taking the plunge and telling you the truth." she whispered. I'm just…can we go home now? I think I'd just like to sleep. Immediately concerned. Maybe one day he'll have the strength to tell you that. Sasuke values your feelings above everything. That's why he's never going to tell you how he feels. "Would I lie to you? With this face?" Sakura laughed shakily. He stopped short when he took in Sakura's expression of disconcertion and apprehensiveness. "He loves you. It was then that Sasuke exited the weapons shop. making his voice gentle. her green eyes big. he began to guide her back to the Uchiha manor. her voice cracking. I'm pretty sure. ." He said it again because he knew she needed to hear it. "Yeah. The blue-eyed boy smiled encouragingly at her. leaning her head against Sasuke. staring her in the face. appreciative of their retreat back into light-ness. I'm just not…" she left the words hanging helplessly. "What's wrong?" he demanded." she conceded softly." she said in a small voice. He's not going to make a move until he's sure beyond a doubt of how you feel. "Nothing. "Just not what? Good enough for him? Because that's bullshit. "I can't risk what Sasuke-kun and I have now." he nodded solemnly. quavering hope in her voice. She nodded slightly and faced forward again. Sasuke frowned and directed a suspicious but questioning glance at Naruto. "Is that true?" he asked. and Naruto identified a tentative. Sakura-chan?" he covered smoothly." "Exactly. "Really?" she ventured." "Of course. "Don't be." Naruto soothed. Sasuke placed his other hand on her opposite shoulder."That's not it. her words muffled by the fabric of Naruto's jacket." Sasuke nodded.

She wouldn't tell him that day, Naruto knew—or the next day, or the day after that. Maybe not for a month, maybe not even for a year. But she would tell him eventually. Naruto had faith in her. He had faith in Sasuke, too.

So I know this chapter is a lot shorter than all the others--which is really saying something. But I felt that this scene needed to stand alone, you know? It might be too quick and it might be too sudden and it might be too abrupt, but...I'm actually pretty okay with it. (nods to self reassuringly) Unrelated: 1) I'm going to my old school's Halloween dance and I'm dressing up as a dark/undead Alice in Wonderland. My friend Marieka is gonna be a dark/undead Tinkerbell, my friend Morgan is gonna be a d/ud Belle, and my friend Alex is gonna be a d/ud Sleeping Beauty. It's going to be amazing. What are you guys gonna be? 2) So I'm getting one of my best friends (Morgan) a pet rock for her birthday. Is that lame? (is apprehensive) 3) Sakura kicked SO MUCH ass in chapter 421, for cereal. It was amazing. It made my day. Dedicated to Missa, because this entire scene? Yeah, it was completely her idea. Fear her power. Fear it. Everything Is Alright Over the course of the next few days, Sasuke constantly caught Sakura at staring at him in a way that was both nervous and thoughtful. When she knew her cover had been blown, she would usually just smile and look away, but once in a while she just stared harder, as if the answer to an internal question of hers was printed across his forehead. It frustrated him to no end. Still, Sakura's mood was much better since he had gotten her the piano. She would play it for hours at a time; Sasuke would simply lean against the wall, close his eyes, and let the music— Sakura's music—wash over him and drive his worries from his mind. However, for about the first week and a half of her mandatory leave, Sakura could usually be found at an absolute loss of what to do with herself. She'd grown so accustomed to always being at the hospital, to be healing patients and writing prescriptions and reports, along with all of the additional tasks that she willing saddled herself with. Now, with an endless expanse of free time, she was quite clearly disconcerted. She took to following Sasuke around, asking him questions—her favorites were "What are you doing?"; "What are you thinking about?" and "Why does your hair stick up?" Sasuke, for his part, bore her pestering with a good-natured scowl and tolerance that stemmed from deep, unconditional affection. He did enjoy having her attention so completely, though. A constant source of dispute between them was the subject of when Sakura went to bed. Sakura was adamant with her proposal of "I'll go to bed whenever I damn well please, thanks so much,"; Sasuke, meanwhile, was unyielding in his belief that she needed a set "bedtime" so as to keep her from slipping back into her old bad habit of staying up much too late. He thought that nine PM was a good choice.

The conflict lasted until Sakura came up with a compromise. "I'll go to bed every night at nine PM if you read with me from eight – nine. Also, you have to go to bed at nine, too. If I wake up in the middle of the night and find that you've left the house to go party with Naruto, I will be seriously ticked off," was Sakura's proposition. Sasuke deliberated for a while before deciding that it was acceptable. He knew that if he went to bed at nine, he'd lie awake for at least two more hours, but he was used to such things. And reading with her actually sounded…pleasant. So that was how, every night at eight PM, Sasuke found himself sitting on the couch with a book that Sakura had chosen. Sakura would then tuck herself into his side, her legs drawn up and her head nestled at the crook of his neck. Often she would spread a blanket over the both of them— a soft, downy comforter of dark green, which, while it was very lightweight, gave Sasuke the exhilarating sensation of being bound to Sakura. Sasuke would hold the book, turning the pages when they were done—he was uncannily accurate at judging when Sakura had completed a page. However, many times Sakura would have to prod him to turn the page; he'd be too distracted by the warmth of her, the scent of her—the adrenaline rush that coursed through him from contact of their skin. When Sakura was playing the piano and when they were reading together were the best parts of Sasuke's day. At nine PM, when Sakura would caress his forehead with a kiss before slipping away from him to the darkness of her bedroom, part of him wanted to curve an arm around her waist and draw her back to him. Another part wanted to follow her and hold her through the night. He would do neither, only bid her goodnight and watch her go. -Sasuke looked down when he felt small hands tugging at the sleeve of his black shirt. Sakura looked up at him, her green eyes solemn. "Sasuke-kun, I have a list," she stated. When she didn't elaborate, Sasuke felt it necessary to ask, a little warily, "A list of what?" She bestowed upon him a despairing look, as if the answer was painfully obvious. "A list of what I want to do today." Sasuke was somewhat relieved; he'd been imagining something less…mundane. He shrugged. "So what do you want to do?" She sighed and pulled him down to pat him on the head. "Read the list," she enlightened. "I don't have the list," he pointed out. "Then maybe you should ask for the list." "Or you could just give me the list." "But you haven't asked for the list, so how am I supposed to know that you want it?"

"I asked what you wanted to do. The list would give me that knowledge, so an intelligent human being would thusly assume that I want the list." "You know what happens when you assume, Sasuke-kun." "What happens?" Sakura paused. "…I'm not really sure. There's a saying…I think it involves a donkey? Um." "You're a moron," Sasuke informed her fondly. She gave him a sunny grin. "But I'm your moron!" Sasuke couldn't quite smother the small smile that pulled at his lips at that. He tapped his knuckles to her forehead. "Unfortunately," he agreed. "Now, give me the list." Sakura obligingly slipped a folded sheet of paper out of her pocket, having had enough of their earlier banter. Sasuke unfolded the paper. It read: A List of Things I Want to Do Today, As compiled by Haruno Sakura (AKA That Incredibly Amazing Girl), Involving: Haruno Sakura (TIAG) and Uchiha Sasuke (That Broody Guy), and Not Necessarily in Any Particular Order at All 1. Go to library 2. Buy new pens 3. Convince TBG to buy TIAG lunch 4. Get haircut (for TIAG, not TBG, although TBG's hair is getting rather long-ish) 5. Engage in Epic Hunt for the Ever-Elusive Waldo (Dude with Obnoxiously Striped Shirt) Sasuke stared at the paper, reread it, and then slowly turned to face Sakura. "What the hell?" he asked blankly. She looked smug. "You're just astounded by its awesomeness, aren't you?" He shook his head disbelievingly and handed the paper back to her. "I can't believe that no one has diagnosed you yet," he muttered under his breath. "I mean—seriously, you want to go on a hunt for Waldo?" Sakura nodded eagerly. "Yeah! Because, come on…where is Waldo? That's like, the eternal question, right there. And I even have a theory: I bet you that Waldo is the missing link. I bet you anything."

black. searching for the pen she wanted. if you decided to be daring. predictably. right?" As he had intended. remaining upbeat. something that screams individuality." Sakura told him. Sasuke wasn't sure what length he liked her hair at. "How would you know? It's not like you've ever gotten a pen that wasn't either black or. Sakura had. they stopped at the stationary store to buy pens. "To the library!" Sasuke had a feeling that it was going to be a long day. her eyes brightened to the radiant green that Sasuke knew and loved." Sakura browsed the rows of office supplies. "You wanted a haircut. they emerged. so he stared out the window until he heard Sakura's feet hit the ground when she slid down from the chair. dark blue. Sasuke took a long look. Her hair had been cropped to just barely chin-length. Twenty minutes later. "and all of my pens are boring. "Let's just go to the library. then. so he instantly accepted and approved of the change. I mean. it somehow made Sakura look younger and yet more mature. Her bangs were trimmed to about eyebrow-level. "Yeah. -Once they had checked out the books that Sakura wanted from the library. "Come on.Sasuke wasn't sure which he wanted to do more at the moment: kiss the silly girl or attempt to knock some sense into her. Irritated that such a trivial thing could disappoint her (and by the realization that Sakura's emotional health still wasn't as stable as it should be). "I just kind of need the change." Sasuke informed her blandly as they stepped inside the quaint shop. not gotten the pen she'd wanted." She shrugged. but he nodded anyway. Turning to her. so Sakura was attended to immediately even though she hadn't made an appointment." Sakura smiled softly and slipped a hand to the crook of his arm. Sasuke had initially intended to watch. I want something…something with character. . red…I want an exciting pen. Business was fairly slow. Sasuke posed. as it had been when she'd cut off her hair during the Chuunin Exams all those years ago. I want a pen…with ink that is purple with orange flecks!" "Ink doesn't have different-colored flecks in it. She had to settle for one that was the most obnoxious shade of green that Sasuke had ever seen. "I've been thinking about it. blue. It flared out at the ends slightly. I just…" she fingered the tip of her now slightly longer than shoulder -length hair. You know?" Sasuke was not actually fully sure what she meant. She was rather upset. but Sakura was looking in the mirror and smiling. directing him to the local salon. Overall. but for some reason the sight of Sakura's hair being cut discomfited him. He just shook his head again.

-Once they had finished eating. Privately. she acquiesced. he turned to see where she was looking. While Sakura was thoroughly engrossed in her game. "I'm not hiding. Sakura's was softer. "Tell me. Sasuke found it rather tedious. he had accompanied her to the Compound. they engaged in the Epic Hunt for the Ever-Elusive Waldo. after staring intently at his face. amused. she kept turning and bobbing her head. He stared at her. but it amused Sakura to no end. but his light came through in brilliant flashes and fireworks." he said quietly. but steadier and more perseverant. And then he slowly turned back to her. "D'you remember when we went to the Hyuuga Compound a few days ago?" Sasuke made a face. and her eyes shone with excitement. and a white shirt with a Vneck that exposed a triangle of red camisole." Sasuke deadpanned. Sasuke was of the opinion that Sakura was lit from the inside. I'm…employing stealth. She cringed. The brisk wind and the exercise made her cheeks flush. Sir Broody?" He didn't talk to her for a while after that. earnestly. Sasuke reached forward and batted a stray wisp out of Sakura's eyes. Sasuke took the time to simply watch her. "And what do you know about head-banging. Sakura had absolutely insisted upon not dropping her weekly visits to check on Hiashi. "Why are you doing that?" She rolled her eyes. "Yeah. "Do you like it?" she asked self-consciously. that Sakura had her own personal source of light and brightness that emerged whenever she was happy. black stockings. Thinking that she had pissed someone off by pointing at them. At his response. Sakura didn't stop smiling even when they left the salon in search of a place to eat. Naruto was the same way. which basically consisted of walking around town looking for people wearing striped shirts. and as Tsunade had not specified that she could not go and Sasuke was unsuccessful in dissuading her. Sasuke again had tea with Hinata ." For a long moment Sasuke thought she was going to refuse. "Why are you hiding from Hyuuga Neji?" he inquired carefully. she even began to head-bang.She approached him. As they made their way to a place known for its good sushi. His green-eyed girl was wearing a pleated black skirt." "Sakura. touching her hair tentatively. Sasuke was shaken from his musings when Sakura suddenly ducked behind him. more muted. Experimentally." "One does not generally tend to head-bang to elevator music." Sasuke admonished. Sakura laughed delightedly. but then. "I'm rocking out to the elevator music in my head.

Sakura shook her head. "Wha—no. you're—hey! Sasuke-kun!" Sasuke took no heed of her. "He tried to kiss you. "Why?" his eyes narrowed." "Then he had no right to even think about—" Sakura cut him off. um. her face was flushed a bright scarlet and she was acting very jumpy." Her words came out in a rush. Sasuke-kun—" "He tried to kiss you when you didn't want him to. did you?" he confirmed. We were talking in the hallway and he suddenly began sort of backing me up against the wall and then he leaned really close and I panicked and pushed him away and…and. She nodded hesitantly." Sasuke blinked once and looked at her. his voice suddenly gaining a frightening edge of malice and ill-intent. "Wait. sudden dread pooling in the pit of his stomach. as if she was trying to get it all off her chest. before turning in Neji's direction (the Hyuuga was talking to someone and hadn't thus far noticed Sasuke and Sakura's presence). instead beginning to walk towards to oblivious pale-eyed boy. only a sudden chill in the air." Sakura's voice took on an apprehensive edge. no—well. He…" she blushed and looked away. "Neji didn't hurt you. ." Sakura blurted out rapidly. "Give me one good reason not to beat the shit out of him. Let's just go home. "Stay here. pinning his arm between her and his body. Let's just go home. eyeing Sasuke as one would eye a bomb with three seconds left until explosion. astonished. as she had ended up throwing her arms around his side. did he?" he demanded. Shockingly. Sasuke-kun. But then Sakura's restraining arms were wrapped around his torso. Sakura. yeah. Sasuke-kun.(he was a bit more sociable than he had been the last time) while Sakura went through her procedures. She also blinked." she appealed. Sasuke's face was a mask of eerie calm. "He didn't mean anything by it. of course not. bolted." Sasuke nodded. "What are you going to do? Sasuke-kun. "Yeah." he ordered in a detached voice. well. okay? I'll…I'll talk to him about it later." Sasuke growled. "No." Sasuke snarled lowly. "Uh. detaching her arms from him and instead slipping her hand into his. "Hetriedtokissme." "Spit it out. "You didn't want him to kiss you. She refused to reveal what was bothering her and instead hurried home. it was harmless." Sasuke clarified. "He. The spontaneous embrace was awkward and clumsy. There was no change in Sasuke's expression. "Sasuke-kun. When Sakura walked into the tea-room after finishing. hey.

Because he's Shino. and he tightened his grip on Sakura's hand as he shot the other genius a vicious glare. Wait. Ever since Sasuke had come back to Konoha. however. Sasuke nodded stiffly and allowed her to lead him home by the hand. Still. exotic features. And. as Neji had come to realize. At first he had been mollified by his belief that Sasuke was not interested in Sakura romantically. D: It's so sad. highly personal level. but in light of recent events… It was undeniable. Sasuke-kun. Staring broodingly into his teacup. nursing a cup of tea and glaring at anyone that approached him. It was: Where the hell am I going with this story? Because I seriously have no idea. Neji could be found sitting in the courtyard of the Hyuuga Compound. so please excuse any and all stupid mistakes. Sakura didn't notice when they passed by Neji and the Hyuuga noticed them.. Kinda bored me. LINELINELINELINELINELINELINELINELINELINELINE WHY DOES THE LINE THING-Y NOT WORK AGAIN?! So we can all recognize it as official. he mused over his own situation involving one Haruno Sakura and one Uchiha Sasuke. guess. BECCA IS ASHAMED OF HERSELF. Pein and Kakashi fought.I should kill another character. . Sakura returned the black-haired youth's sentiments wholeheartedly. and Sakura. Everything Is Alright The next morning. with his dark good looks.less than enthralled. no! Everyone should die. and Sakura was much less moody with Sasuke there to steady her. Neji couldn't help but feel bitter about the whole thing. Neji had felt threatened by the Uchiha's extraordinary bond with the object of Neji's affections. Sasuke was a noticeably more pleasant person to be around when Sakura was with him. I was. But it'd be something straight out of Antigone! Which I actually have to write an essay about for Monday. just when he was thinking that she was beginning to develop feelings for him as well." Sakura repeated gently. (dies) I think. 2) Let me ask you guys something: is it weird to feed marshmallows to one's horse? Because my mom seriously laughed at me for at least ten minutes straight when I explained to her why all the marshmallows were gone. Go on. If only for her sake.. she was snatched away from him by a traitor. Neji had gone and taken their rivalry to a new. mmkay? And I just had a revelation. Guess what I'll be doing at the last minute on Sunday night. Neji had to admit that Sakura and Sasuke made a striking couple—Sasuke. Sasuke was in love with Sakura. She also doesn't feel like even looking over the chapter. now.. I am a fluff-whore. and then. Except for Shino. They complemented each other. Unrelated: 1) Newest Naruto chapter (I've lost track of the numbers).. Enh. He had never devoted so much time and effort to winning the approval of one person. with her delicate. "Let's go home. Sasuke did.Sasuke stared at her hard.

And then Tenten was standing in front of him. all of the touches. all of the words. But then he conceptualized that maybe it wasn't quite so unbelievable. and…something that amounted to desperation and frustration and misplaced anger led him to back her up against the wall and try to kiss him. peering down at him from her standing position. and they walked to the Hyuuga's private training yard. . Sasuke's hand enveloped Sakura's. the alarm and incredulity in her eyes evident. He recalled all of the little moments between Sasuke and Sakura that he had witnessed—all of the glances. Once she had realized what he was doing. angry and territorial. you have a visitor. The maid flinched. so must be seriously ticked off. a practiced impassive expression sliding over face like a shutter.' and fled. The same glare that Sasuke was directing at Neji at that moment. where they both dropped into ready positions. Neji considered telling her to leave before dismissing the thought." came a voice from behind him. Before they could begin. "Um…" They both turned and found Sakura (who had spoken) and Sasuke approaching them. And he realized that what Sakura and Sasuke had was something that Neji couldn't even begin to understand. "Whoever it is. reminding Neji of the day before when he had passed them on the street—Sasuke's glare. "What?" he asked stiffly. tell them to go away. Sasuke's protectiveness. Neji. mumbling something about needing to 'get back to Sasuke-kun. however. He turned to face her slowly. Sakura's devotion. "Spar?" She nodded. And thus Neji's campaign for Sakura's feelings went down in flames. "Ah. He stood. Something that had been escalating and growing and strengthening between the two." Neji knew that voice anywhere. Neji tensed automatically. It was something strong and fierce and overwhelming in its subtlety. Tenten's steady presence usually served to ease away distressing thoughts of his. his hand tight around Sakura's." he instructed. well. That might have been why he had tried to kiss her a few days ago. "Wow. making matters such as political ties completely irrelevant. another voice interrupted. After she had finished treating Hiashi she and Neji had been conversing in the hallway. Neji couldn't imagine what something like that must feel like. She had backed away. Sakura had immediately pushed him away. "Usually you at least ask who the visitor is." Neji was in no mood for company. "Neji-san…?" Neji grit his teeth in irritation when a meek maid's voice interrupted his thoughts. and to accept one who had trampled over that concept so irrevocably…it was inconceivable to Neji.He couldn't even fathom how Sakura could love someone who had betrayed Konoha—a shinobi's village was everything.

that special. and then Sakura had insisted on going to the Hyuuga Compound to clear things up with Neji—which basically consisted of Sakura starting to say something and then Neji just responding that he 'understood. First he had realized that he truly did care for Sakura. obviously relieved at not having to voice what she was trying to say aloud. he deemed it worth trying. but then…then he'd found himself thinking that he wanted to kiss her still. Sakura smiled uneasily. "So. He didn't think that he could ever love anyone that much—although. to put it mildly. Neji. that other way. He was much too practical to pursue a relationship with a person that was so clearly going to end up with another. Tenten. socially stunted as he was. just in case he got any funny ideas. Then he'd come to the conclusion that he loved Sakura platonically. some escalation. Neji. And now? Now he knew that he loved her—loved her in that way. I just wanted to…" Sakura began uncomfortably. -Sasuke was not in the best of moods. That night. casting a brief. And even Sasuke." she greeted. had been very hard to admit.' Sakura seemed to think that the Hyuuga truly did understand. He knew that he had never loved Sakura. without a doubt. thoughtful glance at Tenten. uh. knew that wanting to kiss someone was not a platonic form of love. He probably would have grown to love her over time. had Sakura returned his sentiments. he did. His gaze softened. I'm sorry. as he laid seething and brooding in bed. I don't think of you that way. Neji nodded. The notion had been creeping up on him for some time now. Tenten echoed the pleasantry. only cared for her." Indeed. beautiful way. but he decided to keep a close watch on the pale-eyed boy whenever he was around Sakura. But Neji knew. all part of some process. terrifying. "Hi. so Sasuke didn't push the case. Neji knew what she was trying to say. which. at the time. core-shaking revelations of his life: He was in love with Sakura. He'd been reflecting on the past day's events and had recalled his sudden urge to kiss Sakura. Yesterday he'd learned that Neji had tried to kiss Sakura. . that he never would have loved her as much or as strongly as Sasuke did. he came to what was most definitely one of the most life-altering. some way of letting the notion ease in subtly. "I understand.The two stopped about five feet away from Neji and Tenten. Sakura smiled. a trivial whim. At first he'd dismissed it as simply a passing fancy.

no power to seek. Kenna. "I will absolutely not allow you to train. Except my teacher promised to give me a donut because I'm a genius!kid. "Sasuke-kun." . Ohoh. I haven't trained in three weeks. and I wanted to get this out early because I'm busy tomorrow and am not going to be home all weekend. I don't believe it. and…and everything would simply be alright? No family to avenge. make her his in name as well. hurt her." Sasuke reprimanded. DEAL WITH IT. Because what if Sakura did love him back? What would he do? What would he say? Could he really just…live happily ever after with Sakura? Marry her? The thought was almost inconceivable to him. He had caught her trying to edge out the door while she thought he was taking a nap. the story) is gonna end pretty soon.. GUESS WHOSE LINE-THINGY WORKS AGAIN? In your face. Yeah.. and I periodically jumped around my room. Yes. Sakura would never love him in that way again. Hah.even if he does bring unnecessary drama to the story. Kakashi's not gonna die. Score. He was only setting himself up to get hurt—or much. he told himself firmly. the sound of her breathing calmed his troubled thoughts. That he could marry Sakura. no brother to kill? Just waking up to Sakura's green eyes every morning? No. And it's probably really weird and random because I was aim-ing the entire time I wrote it (as I still am now). Because Sakura would never love him back. "Sakura. "Where are you going?" she muttered rebelliously.Eventually Sasuke found himself sitting cross-legged on the floor of Sakura's bedroom. Nah. Funfun. Sakura crossed her arms and averted her gaze. He either has a trick up his sleeve or someone's gonna come save him. It's all very distracting. I think this (like. Unrelated: 1) Chapter 423. Unless Missa hits me with a plot idea that calls for extensions. Like always. much worse. AND I have midterms tomorrow. She huffed. staring at her as she slept. verything Is Alright "Where are you going?" Sasuke asked suspiciously. I WANTED IT THAT WAY. Oh. YES IT'S SHORT. I'm losing all my skill!" Sasuke dug in his heels. Mostly because he knew that falling in love with Sakura was the worst thing he could have done under the circumstances. but he was still very distressed. head-banging to "Last Words" by Thousand Foot Crutch. But can we please get back to Sasuke now? I miss him. The Hokage specifically said no physical exertion for a month.

You have no idea what's good for you. I promise—no jutsus or weapons or anything. I don't think you care about me. but I just—" she bit her lip. "I love you. "I know what's good for me. "Yes. "No. "Of course I care about you. And then suddenly she was running." he began. She stuck her chin out defiantly. "Sasuke-kun…I…" she shook her head. Did it ever occur to you that I'm not letting you do what you want to do anymore because when I did. clenching her fists and making agitated gestures. "is that you get so caught up in helping and taking care of every goddamn person on the planet that you completely forget about yourself. you stupid-haired moron!" The instant that the words left her mouth. "Of course I do!" she yelled." he coaxed. "No." She immediately became rigid. her eyes widening. try to avoid them when I can. it is. Sasuke-kun. Seeing that he had gotten through to her. "Why won't you ever listen to me? I told you no. "Honestly.Sakura rolled her eyes. "Your problem. You think I'm being mean. You never stop to consider how much I worry about you. "You don't care about me. All I'm asking for is your safety and well-being. For me?" "That's not going to work on me this time. Just for a little while. but I'm doing it for your own good. though!" Sakura shouted. real physical exertion! A little light training won't hurt me and will help me keep my skill up." He sneered at her. and I really don't like people pointing them out to me!" He ignored her. I greatly dislike problems. I don't. looking miserable. Sakura? You seem to have all the answers. please?" She tugged at his sleeve. "I'm sorry." he informed her. "Forget about training. before her face turned beet-red. "That is not true. Sasuke-kun. "She meant like. dark eyes narrowed to slits." she accused." "That's the point. I know I've been stupid. you became ill? Do you know how guilty I feel about what happened to you? Did you ever stop to consider how scared I was when you collapsed? Well. stupid!" he growled. Sakura. outraged. "Then just come back inside. Is that so much? Do you even care about how I feel?" Sakura stomped her foot. "Just spar with me a little. okay? I'm really sorry. she grew extremely pale. I can take care of myself and make my own decisions! Why won't you respect that?" Sasuke stepped closer so that he could purposely tower over her. Sasuke put his hands on her shoulders and tried to steer her back into the manor. "Do you want to know what your problem is?" he hissed. pointedly avoiding her bewitching eyes. Now that ticked Sasuke off. her original stubbornness returning." He sliced her a frustrated glare." She stared at him. C'mon. Really light. but you get mad at the people who care about you for trying to help!" Sakura gasped. .

And all he could do was stand there. "So you really didn't mean it. She was mistaken. Can we please pretend this never happened? I…" her lower lip wobbled..Running away from him. he told himself. But still. "I'm so sorry—I just—I was—…forget I said anything. letting loose a flurry of chakra-enhanced punches and kicks in a training sequence. which she hid by burying her face in his neck." he murmured. watching her go. His own voice practically shook. She seemed surprised by what she saw. "Sasukekun…I…you. There was Sakura. "You don't love me. such a goddamn fool— She came out of hiding to peer at his face. still. you stupid-haired moron!"… …"I love you." he said slowly." she blurted immediately. Instantly. She ducked her head. Sasuke saw what hinted at tear tracks glistening on her face. "You never listen to me. Immediately alarmed. "I'm sorry. After all. releasing her limbs and using the pads of his fingers to wipe away all traces of her tears. which was in Team Seven's old training grounds. he rushed to its location." He was a fool. she had looked like she regretted it the moment she said it." . treacherous hope that was growing." Sasuke felt as if he had been punched in the gut. …"Of course I do! I love you. you stupid-haired moron!"… …"I love you…" He still couldn't even conceive of it. -Sasuke stumbled around dazedly. a fool. okay? Just forget. Sasuke-kun. If there was even a possibility that Sakura loved him…could maybe even love him close to how much he loved her… Suddenly he felt her chakra flaring. and his fingers fell away. "I want to go home. as she had so many years ago. She gaped at him.. Sakura loved him? Sakura loved him? Sakura loved him? The very idea that Sakura could be in love with someone like him… No. Please take me home. he was beside her. Sasuke could not crush the horrible. "What?" came her muffled voice. catching her punch and subduing her kick. seeking out Sakura's chakra signature. Surely it couldn't be true. Surely that meant something. startled. She just thought that she loved him.

Sakura. "How could you even doubt—ugh. beautiful understanding had bloomed between them." he breathed. but they didn't need to."Do you?" he demanded harshly." He didn't even stop to think about it. Very late. Guess what. I know--and I had such a good streak going. Sakura was gently stroking his hair. I—" He was cut off by Sakura's abrupt kiss. "Just tell me. they were curled up on the couch for their ritualistic reading hour. HAVE A PLOT. She blinked at him. But anyway. For example: when writing a story." she whispered. Certainly not me. But Sasuke had abandoned literature in favor of resting his head on Sakura's shoulder. lame as this may sound. "You're the most oblivious person I've ever met. panting harshly. "More than anyone. so all you really got was this half-assed attempt. "Answer me. his face pressed to her neck. "I love you. Um. When they eventually did break apart. and all the proof that was needed was Sasuke's refusal to unwrap his arms from around her and the tender look in Sakura's eyes. Hahahahahaha--yeah. Sakura—Sakura was— And then he was kissing her back. though. He stood. So much. Sakura. so just—" "Do you know how badly I want to hit you right now?" he queried sharply.alas. fiercely." he said lowly. frozen. though? I have a new SasuSaku multi-chap planned. alack. Possibly a few related oneshots. "Sakura. running a hand through his hair. and." He was almost pleading. But it's okay. I've never really known where I was going with this story. THERE WILL NOT BE A SEQUEL. God. clutching her to him and refusing to relinquish her mouth even when his lungs began straining for oxygen.Make sure to watch out for it. too. unable to process what was going on. As I hope I have made abundantly clear. Sakura— -That night. Yup. Terribly sorry. Sasuke-kun. I'm really excited about it. desperately. Sakura. I know you don't feel the same way. mmkay? Unrelated: . This was my very first multi-chapter fic. backing her up against a tree." Sakura. "Sakura. Who knows. confused and surprised. They hadn't talked about what happened at the training grounds. stiff. Sasuke immediately buried his face in her hair. There'll be an epilogue-ish thingy after this because I know this chapter was all random and WTF-ish. runs around in circles. I learned a lot from it. and for so long. her arms winding around his neck. Do you love me?" "Yes.. a glorious..

"Yeah. "Don't even start. that reminds me…I lost the bet…hey. Sasuke!" he snickered. raising her hands in a placating manner. wait! It was just yesterday. slinging an arm around his best friend's neck. roses or lilies?" "For what? Get off me! Sakura!" He stared accusingly at the green-haired girl. her hands on her hips. stop it!" Sakura ordered as the tops of Sasuke's ears burned bright red. "Roses or lilies?" she asked him crisply as she extracted a tape measurer from her pocket and looped it around Sasuke's neck. her face hidden in her hands. at least we know you're not asexual anymore! But damn. tough guy. while Ino marched up to Sasuke. now.U. did you? Ah well. you never did stop being an awkward turtle. "What are your intentions for our dearest Sakura-chan? Speak up. "How long does it take to tell someone one thing?" he muttered. you and Sakura-chan finally got together. who was watching him expectantly. As if in response to his irritation. don't be shy. Actually. answer me. found the whole scene terribly funny. antisocial little awkward turtle. bastard.O. "Do you know how long I've been waiting for you to get married? Do you?" Sakura's reply of "Who are you. We'll see how pretty you are with a black eye…" "Ino." Sasuke glared savagely at him as he continued to resist Ino's ministrations. Sakura was lagging behind. hmm? Is that it? C'mon. "You're embarrassing him…" Naruto. Sakura!" the blonde warned. too. …Oh. my mother?" overlapped with Sasukes bewildered outcry of "Married?" Ino rounded on him. "Ino…" Sakura began. "Took you long enough! But still…it seems like just yesterday you were an asexual.1) KAAAAAAAAAAAAAKAAAAAAAAASHIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!! -dies insideEverything Is Alright "So. meanwhile. "I'm trying to take your measurements. dead-last! I…" he snuck a glance at Sakura. "Hold still!" she snapped.?" The only reason that Sasuke didn't knock Naruto clear to the other side of Konoha in the very beginning of his little monologue was because he was too focused on waiting for Sakura to exit the flower shop. trying to fight off the tape measurer-wielding female. huh?" Naruto leered. d'you think Shikamaru would accept an I. married! Or were you planning on just having a meaningless fling with my best friend. Sakura and Ino stepped out of the shop. "Shut up. a 'make your insane best friend leave me alone' look in his eyes. her expression devoid of anything that told him what she wanted to hear from him. And today. "I—what the hell?!" he exclaimed. . I ask again. "Yes.

"Not the point. he growled to the group at large. okay?" she offered. Sakura just grinned in response. "We're only nineteen!" Ino arched an eyebrow imperiously. You're shinobi! You could go on a mission and die tomorrow! A meteor could hit the earth! A plague could spread! Naruto could say something intelligent and we'd all die of shock!" Naruto scowled and crossed his arms. I'm a girl and therefore insecure by definition.Disgruntled and humiliated." Sasuke muttered sullenly as they walked away from the Yamanaka Flower Shop. "Like. don't you think? I promise I'll let you attack Sasuke with a tape measurer and harass him about flower decorations some other time." Sasuke admitted. Ino. if you want this relationship to work. Sakura ruffled his hair. She sighed happily and snuggled up to his side." she cautioned. you're going to have to learn to answer all of my inane questions. She gently disentangled the tape measurer from around Sasuke and handed it back to Ino. ignoring Sasuke's betrayed hiss of "Sakura!" Ino's eyes softened. or a lot a lot a lot?" "That's a stupid question." She waved a dismissive hand at him and opened her mouth to say something else. snatching her hand from his hair and holding it in his own. Uchiha. . very funny. at which point Sakura found it prudent to step in and save Sasuke from further mortification. Ino…this is all a bit soon." she reminded him cheerfully. "I'm gonna hold you to that." "Do you love me a lot?" was her follow-up question. "Funny. "but I like hearing you say it. Forehead. "I love you." "Yeah." he grumbled." "I'm not embarrassed. "Sasuke-kun. "How much do you love me?" she pressed. "Ah. do you love me?" He frowned at her. leaving Ino and Naruto squabbling behind them. a lot. "So is yours. -"Your best friend is crazy." he groused." she conceded. "Yes. "You already know the answer to that. "Time is of the essence. no matter how much they embarrass you. a bad feeling forming in his stomach." He exhaled and spoke to the top of her head. "Sasuke-kun. Humor me. Sakura tugged at his sleeve." he mumbled. or a lot a lot.

Tears formed in the corners of Sakura's eyes." Sakura urged. the shame…I knew I should have dated Naru—" Sasuke couldn't take it anymore. and then: "The third one. "Yes. "Sasuke-kun! How could you say that? All I want to know is how much you love me." "…So you love me a lot a lot a lot?" Sakura smiled brightly. but I didn't listen to her! Now look what's happened…my husband is cheating on me with a harem of older women…oh. We're through. . "…So how about that pony. "Now you don't even want to marry me." Sakura scowled at him." Sasuke groaned. "Yes! So that means you'd buy me anything. Sasuke-kun?" Sakura looked up at him."Then answer the question. all traces of her tears immediately disappearing. She tore her hand out of his." "What are you even talking about? We're not married. I'm afraid we're going to have to get a divorce. I want all of your stuff gone by tomorrow." "And you'd do anything for me?" "…Yes. She looked offended. her eyes shining beautifully. A pause. either? That's it. "Oh. I'd do anything for you. right? Right?" "Yes." "The third what?" "The third option. pleased with herself. "More than anyone and everyone and anything and everything else?" "Yes. huh? Huh. Happy?" She beamed at him." Sasuke accused. Sasuke." Sasuke acknowledged wearily. so now you're going to leave me homeless and destitute? My mother was right when she told me not to marry you. Sasuke-kun. But don't worry! It's not me." Sasuke pointed out reasonably. "Alright. wondering how long it would take them to reach the manor and if he could put up with his green-eyed girl and her nonsensical ramblings until then. it's you. "You paused. "Alright!" he yelled. Is that so much to ask? Is it? Does that mean you don't love me as much as you say? Do you not love me at all? If that's the case. Why'd you pause?" "Because you're going somewhere with this." "It's my house!" he snapped.

yeah. Then he remembered something. burrowing further into his side. "I'm glad. what to say." He was glad. a girl that loved him.but right now I'm working the plot out with the help of the ever-helpful.myself." he murmured. For reviewing and just putting up with me in general. So expect something not-quite-soon-ish. It should solve your problem. of course of course. what to say. This story is finished finished finished. ever-pimping Sharon. revealing the bright green that he loved so dearly.Sasuke's only response was to drop a kiss to her lips and mutter. Love ya.? Kind of. "Mmm?" she responded. and then me.... And it was true. it was my first ever multi-chap. and I finished it." she smiled. Y'know? Once again. thanks? And if you stumbled upon this page by accident. You can maybe anticipate a few oneshots from me. for being myself and thus being amazing." -That night." he whispered. all. But hey. Hmm.erm. and then I hope to see you all at my next SasuSaku multi-chap! Not sure of the title... and then realized that there was no other way to say it.first of all. He drew a long breath. A girl that was Sakura. his Sakura. Sasuke watched Sakura drift in and out of sleep. "You little twerp. just hit the Back button. Her eyelids raised about halfway. That counts for something. If you are just reading this story randomly. "I'm glad. If you apply to that category. um. But. um... but not-quite-later-ish. as they lay in bed. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. very untrue things rocked my world. go buy yourself something nice. "Sakura.. I'd like to apologize for how I pretty much let this story go to hell in a handbasket. -runs in circlesEverything Is Alright Epilogue(-ish thing) . Happy Thanksgiving. though. Again. And then. So guess what. But seriously? All of you guys that reviewed and said very kind. If you took the time to alert and/or favorite this story and read all the chapters. He hesitated.. Sasuke-kun. just in case. he was holding the most beautiful girl in the world. right. "Everything's alright. guys? My older brother got arrested for underage drinking. yet. for being amazing. I'd like to thank.. and then also Becca. I need to thank the uber-fantastical Missa for encouraging me and coming up with ideas and ranting about anything and everything with me (but mostly about pretty guys). for being me and thus myself and thus amazing. either. pat yourself on the back. too. content to stay up and watch over her. bro.

when she addressed him only as "Sasu-baby. "I KNOW. RIGHT?!" Once she was sure she had everyone's attention. "So. There stood Tsunade and Naruto— except Naruto was wearing the Hokage robes. smiling. what." She walked away. Once they were at the front of the crowd. grinning broadly."Sasuke-kun Sasuke-kun Sasuke-kun!" Sasuke turned to find his green-eyed girl racing towards him. Sasuke looked at Sakura. Sakura bounced up and down. into the inner Village. He caught her as she launched herself at him. Perhaps he was dreaming. amused. to repeat everything she said three times." The crowd around the Hokage Tower was very dense." Sasuke murmured. tugging. I'm…" she frowned." She removed her Hokage's hat and placed it jauntily on Naruto's head. "Well. shouting "Excuse me excuse me excuse me!" Sasuke wondered whether this was another one of her games." she continued. The blonde boy peace-signed. what?" he asked. "As you all know. The villagers were gathering. but he was smiling. they would just part so that they could get through. We're all screwed." Sasuke said. lifting her up briefly. Instead. up the stairs and onto the porch of the Uchiha manor. "What. God. "Getting old. lovely in a pale yellow tank-top and a white skirt. even though it was the peak of summer and an ungodly hot temperature. "What's going on?" She beamed at him and pointed to the top of the tower. He rather liked it better than her game last week. shouting and celebrating. Sakura. Tsunade shook her head wryly. if Tsunade would ever admit such a thing. "I hereby resign my position as Hokage…and leave my post to your new Rokudaime. it's official. "Oh. charged through them. Her eyes wide and bright and wild. Uzumaki Naruto. when people saw them. It really kind of made him wonder what was happening. leaving Naruto alone on top of the Tower. The boy they'd used to scorn had come to be a great Village favorite. she grabbed his hand. "Come on come on come on!" He allowed her to lead him by the hand away from the manor." Sasuke concluded that it was indeed a very weird day. Tsunade spoke. chattering excitedly. . The crowds cheered uproariously. but they didn't have to work to get to the front. "Gods save you all.

and outstretched his arms towards her. "Heyyy. "Kids these days…" Naruto and Sasuke shared a glance. her sunglasses hiding her eyes. looking thoroughly ridiculous in his bright orange swim-trunks. "What do you want?" Before she could answer. "Some of us have real jobs. and the situation devolved into a full-fledged scuffle before Sakura stood. Hiya. her red tankini exposing a strip of her abdomen. sputtering. "But we're your jerks!" . instead of just taking the occasional S-ranked mission when we feel like it. I've got you." Sakura raised her sunglasses. guys— " They joined together to fling her into the pool. "Um." He punched Sasuke playfully on the shoulder. "He did it he did it he did it!" Sasuke watched her as she laughed and cried and screamed all at once. please?" Sasuke glanced over to where Sakura reclined in a poolside chair. and he took her in his arms. She wrung out her hair. Naruto strolled over. "You…!" Naruto laughed and cannon-balled in to join her. No rough-housing by the pool." Naruto's blonde head bobbed." She swam over to him. right there in the Tower. can you go get me a drink. She surfaced. Sakura-chan.Sakura took his hands and danced around. hair wild and eyes green and God. -One Month Later "Sasuke-kun. "Shouldn't you be working on official Hokage business. lifting her out of the pool. she was so beautiful. "You guys are jerks. which caused Sakura to back up. "Boys. smirking." She shook her head mournfully. boys. Sasuke sat on the edge of the pool. "I'll have you know that ensuring the happiness of my people is official Hokage business. That would probably be his second act. "Come here. "As my first act as Hokage…I order the immediate construction of a community pool!" Better than Sasuke had feared." Sasuke shoved him back. taking off her sunglasses. Naruto spoke. hands raised. instead of chilling at the pool?" He grinned. bastard. He'd thought for certain that Naruto's first order of business would be to build himself a personal ramen shack.

-seethes2) Team Hebi (or whatever they're calling themselves these days) had a cute moment! I'm so upset. yellow locks disheveled. OHMYGOD. "I am.. In the water.. She smiled and bent down.." he admitted. She noticed him watching and swam closer. the second-to-latest chapter. yo. ALL OF YOU ARE NINJA GANGSTERS. He breathed out. you two! No one wants to see that!" This time it was Sasuke and Sakura who looked at each other. Maybe have them go on some super-duper mission or something. A. Is.. right? Right. and rose to jump in the pool and give Naruto a good. "I love you. You know. So. He smiled into the kiss.Yeah. but broke off when Naruto splashed water at them. :) . using her legs as a back-rest. He collected one of her hands. Crazy. yeah. treading water beside him. hey. and she peered down at him. ho. As dictated by my history. when I was like.She hid a smile and went back to her chair. her wet cheek pressed up against his." she whispered into his ear. when Karin was bein' all annoying and Sasuke was basically just like "Shut up. He leaned back. She pressed them closer together so he would have more support. "You look happy. heard Naruto splashing around. Bitch. and Sakura bent forward. kissing him on the mouth.. well. Karin got in trouble!" and Zetsu or whoever was like "Sasuke." and Suigetsu was like "Haha. and Sakura. So. But I don't know. Sasuke took a moment to look at Naruto. It was still cute. I forgot all about this story until like. But. I kind of want to write a sequel for this. He felt the sun on his face. then sat down on the end of her chair. you've sure got a lot to deal with. from Sakura's POV mostly. . Such. winding her arms around his neck. two hours ago." Or something. This time Sasuke waited for her to draw her knees up.. ankles brushing his. So I did. I should write an epilogue. solid thrashing. rubbing his thumb over her palm.and I'm afraid I'll write the first few chapters and then run out of ideas/lose interest/get bored. tilting his head for a better angle. I have a lot of other stuff I'm working on. maybe. Thank you everyone for the reviews and kind words and. and I'm still upset. "Get a room. Unrelated: 1) Danzo. in like. Doesn't get any better than that. massaging his head in small circles. Sasuke was happy." she remarked.kindly-worded reviews! You've no idea how much they mean to me.

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