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Old 01-12-2009, 10:51 AM   #13
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Re: Shade of the Leaf


Sakura collapsed into the ground next to Sasuke. It was a rare afternoon spare and Naruto was off on some ANBU business. Sparring with both of them was a painful joy, sparring with just Sasuke gave her a chance to hone skills she would never think to use against Naruto. She tried not to smirk as she remembered how quickly Sasuke was to move away from her fists. At least he was breathing hard, sweat sliding down his temples. She was completely soaked in a gross, manly sort of way. Sighing she tossed one leg over her knee and starred at her at her foot.

"You were distracted today."


"Normally without Naruto here to keep you entertained my ribs would feel like they were created out of pudding instead of actual bone." She didn't look over at him, but she imagined that once in a past life, he might have rolled his eyes. However, when she neglected to even get a grunt from him, she twisted out onto her stomach and stared at him.

"You are distracted."

He opened his eyes and stared at her. The red-pinwheels were still circling in his eyes, and she blinked as he scanned the area around them.

"Hey, I'm no Naruto, but I like to think my talents of conversation have at least improved past his over the years. I might not listen exactly as well as he does, but my ears do work, Sasuke."

He sighed and flopped onto his back. She felt a smile tug at her mouth. If he was relaxing, that meant they had moved far enough into the training ground that they were alone. For now, at least. Well, when dealing with Sasuke, it was always advisable to cheat like Shikamaru.

"Besides, we're teammates; if you can't talk to me about your problems, who can you? Naruto doesn't count."

"The council."

Ah, a world of explanation in two words. Propping her head up on her knuckles, she considered him. There were only so many things that council actually had on Sasuke that could bother him, and the sharpest weapon in that arsenal was the status of clan. Hissing low between her teeth, she sat up. Sasuke would know before she did if someone was trying to listen, the paranoid bastard; it was safe to talk.

"So what's the problem Sasuke? Are they giving you a deadline for starting the clan before they disband you or something?"

He stood in a single, smooth motion that she could appreciate from a perspective that was that of a teammate… and a bit of a woman who liked men with good backs. The greatest part of learning that her emotions were no longer so deeply tied up with Sasuke was being able to appreciate his form honestly.

However, now was not the time.

"Sasuke!" Shoving to her feet, she chased him. "Wait a minute, alright?"

To her delight, he stopped. It startled her enough that she almost tripped before she managed to catch herself. He didn't turn towards her, but the fact that he had stopped was clearly a sign that they were friends. Finally.

"I can't help if I don't know the problem." His shoulders were so tight she could see the knots of muscles under his shirt. When he spoke, his voice was flat.

"The council is worried about my lack of an heir."

"You're only twenty."

A jerky, hard shrug.

"So they want you to produce an heir." This was a bit like talking to a Naruto who didn't want to admit something. You just kept guessing until you hit it on the nail. She had gotten very good at guessing.

"They want an heir by the time I am twenty six to secure the line of my clan."

Sakura frowned. Twenty-six was a long, long time for a ninja. She supposed that it allowed the Council to pat themselves on the back and say how generous they were being. Biting her lip, she chewed on that thought. They were giving themselves a failsafe. Did that mean they didn't expect Sasuke to live to twenty-six, or where they hoping he would give them a reason to disband the clan all together before then?

How long had it taken Sasuke to trust them to watch his back? Trust them to stay alive long enough for him to get there? How much longer would it take for him to find a woman he would let in his apartment, much less into his bed who could defend his children from those who wished the Uchiha clan stayed dead?

What could she do about that?

"Does Naruto know?"


Rolling her eyes, she shoved her hands into her pockets and moved to stand next to his shoulders. Staring at the trees, she formulated what exactly she wanted to say.

"What do you think the odds are of Naruto being Hokage in six years?"

She felt the weight of his stare on her face and she tilted her head to look at him. Why did all the men in her life have to be taller than her?

"Six years, Sasuke. That's our deadline to getting Naruto secured as Hokage. What do you think the odds are?"

"He will need the support of three fifths of the council." There was a silent question behind his words. 'Who supports him now?'

"I'll come by tonight." She kept the list of clans quietly supporting Naruto in her head. She didn't dare write them down.


She turned to face him fully, her brow lifted in question.

"Do you think he can do it?"

She was quiet for a moment before answering. "He brought you back. No matter how many times we were told it would never happen, Naruto never stumbled. He never let me stumble, either. I don't think there is anything he can't accomplish. He makes friends were there isn't any, and he has the uncanny ability to win exactly the right people he needs to his side." She paused, attempting to put her thoughts together. "I will never, ever doubt him because he has never doubted me. Even so, this isn't a battlefield and while clan alliances and politics don't mean much to him, they are going to mean everything until he is Hokage." Then things would change.

Sasuke finally nodded. "Eight o'clock."

She opened her mouth to say something else, but he had changed his stance. It was a warning he wouldn't have given Naruto. Groaning mentally, she formed chakra along her hands and waited to see what he would do. It was going to hurt later. A whole lot, if the way his mouth had curled a little at the edges said anything.

But it was worth it.

Failures must be seen as amusements,they are trials which hone your skills.
The frog in the well drifts into the great ocean.
Feel pain,conteplate pain,accept pain and know pain.
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