tale of galant jiraiya
Join Date: Oct 2008
Thanked 107 Times in 62 Posts
Re: Shade of the Leaf
“What the hell is your problem Uzumaki?” Okay, not exactly what she had planned on shouting, but it worked and his eyes lightened with surprise. When dealing with her friend’s strange ability for emotional insight, it was best to just wallop him when he wasn’t expecting it.
Blue eyes blinked rapidly. “Huh?”
Pressing one fist on her hip, and not caring that it made her look confrontational, she frowned at him, “Where the hell have you been?”
Those wide eyes were confused, “on missions.”
“Exactly!” Jerking around, she slammed the kettle back onto the stove. “On missions! Not even two weeks after almost getting yourself killed, you decide to take off with your new ANBU status and try to get yourself killed in a completely new fashion.”
She could feel his confusion fade into hesitation. To her surprise, that hesitation shifted into determination. Peeking over her shoulder as the water started to heat again, she considered the line of his jaw. Time to interrupt his thought process.
“I know I told you I was alright with someone else watching your back Naruto, because I wasn’t ready or willing to join ANBU to do it for you, but you do remember that I withheld the right to kick your ass if you did something stupid, right?”
He took a slow breath, and the line of his jaw eased. “I needed to be out doing things, Sakura. It was… hard.”
She nodded. At least he was talking about it. “Sasuke.”
She ignored the way he stiffened a little. “Yes.”
“He is alright, Naruto. There are going to be lingering effects, things won’t ever be the same,” the wistful note in her voice was only partly mocking. “But that’s okay. We’re still team seven.”
She twisted around, and frowned. It was possible that Naruto was involved in a completely different conversation than she was. It had happened before. Best to put his feet squarely on the path she wanted then. Too many conversations had ended badly because of miscommunications.
“You mean you don’t want to be team seven anymore?”
His eyes huge, “Sakura!”
She bit her tongue to keep from smiling. Too easy. “Okay… so that was a bit low. Tell me Naruto… Why haven’t you talked to Sasuke?”
“I… needed time.”
The teakettle hissed and she poured the hot water into the two plastic cups, her brow furred as she tried to think that one through. Stuff? What stuff?
“Sakura….” His tone was careful. “Have you and Sasuke talked… about… your own stuff?”
“You mean my undying affection?” Her back was turned so she missed his reaction, but she heard his intake of breath.
“Sasuke…” she allowed her voice to soften, starring down into the cup of noodles. “Sasuke… I don’t know who changed, Naruto. I just can’t tell. I mean, we both have changed, but I don’t know when it changed.”
There was a long pause. “Changed?’
“It isn’t so much that he isn’t the man that I thought he was. He is, even if it’s buried under scars and lies… but something has changed. I just can’t tell if it’s me or if it’s him!”
“Is that… okay?”
“It would be damn uncomfortable if he was even remotely in love with me.” She muttered in a rush.
Grabbing a pair of chopsticks, she shoved the first cup into his hands. To her surprise, he barely caught it, his face slack with shock. It took a few seconds to pour and stir her cup, and when she turned, his features had the normal wonder and delights from his precious ramen. It was always best to have ramen in front of him when she had something life altering to admit to. She sighed in pleasure when she finally sat down. The silence between them was comfortable as they tiredly ate.
Once she felt the edge of her hunger abate, she started talking again. “I think I’m a horrible person.” It felt good to admit that.
Naruto coughed, his forearm banging painfully against the table as he tried to clear his lungs. She hurried on to explain before he could get the breath to argue with her; because he would have.
“You probably know better than anyone why I chased after him. You chased after him because you promised me… and it was over something that I’m not sure ever existed. I don’t love him.” Her tone was resigned, soft.
“Do you know how long it took me to realize that?” She refused to look at him.
She ignored his second attempt to interrupt. “I spent so many years of my life chasing the damn man so I could drag him back by his hair to realize that life was here. With us, he could have had a life! I finally have him in reach… and nothing. I have nothing. Which I promptly tried to ignore, because that had to be love, right? You don’t just throw away so many years of your life without loving someone.”
His eyes were wide with shock, but there was warmth there as well. She needed that. Taking a shuddering breath, she sighed, lowering her eyes. She had needed to tell him that, but now it was time to point this conversation back where it belonged. She could just drown herself in the shower later.
“Sasuke needs you Naruto. I’m still fumbling for ways to help him. We’re attempting to become friends. You are his friend. He needs you to be here.”
“You’re his friend too, Sakura-chan.”
“Maybe, but I think you’re the better one out of the two of us. You never wanted anything from him besides friendship. I’m still trying to deal with the fact that I love him as my brother and teammate, only.” It was terrifying, thinking that those emotions she had poured into Sasuke might have just been friendship. Perhaps it had been love at one time and she had just burned them into ashes.
Naruto’s tone was soft. “That’s not true.”
“What’s not true?”