"Sakura," Shizune's soft voice broke into her exhausted daze. "You should go home."
She lifted her eyes and blinked at the concerned medic nin. Shizune wasn't scheduled to come on duty for another three hours. Scrubbing at dry eyes, she looked at the clock. Was it really that late?
"Tsunade said that you have done enough and the next shift is here. They'll take over for now, Sakura." Hands were turning her and pointing her towards the door. Her body went through the automatic reactions. Wash the blood off her hands. Change out of her uniform, put it in her bag, and head back to her dark apartment in the hopes of getting some sleep. Halfway home, she stopped. As much as she wanted to sleep, she wanted to spend some time with someone else. Going home to a cold apartment was suddenly a task that was just too much for her emotionally drained self.
Her feet turned to a familiar direction, but she stopped herself. Her parents had stopped being able to help her since her genin days. While they might sympathize with what she had to be going through at the hospital, they wouldn't understand. They couldn't understand why civilians in her care were so much harder than healing shinobi. The idea that shinobi could take care of themselves, that they had been hurt for a purpose was one thing. A civilian being hurt, little civilian children being burned was something completely different. She had pushed herself into exhaustion dealing with the injuries that had come in after a civilian apartment complex had caught fire and she was feeling the drain.
Curling her fingers around her key ring, she headed a different direction. The door she was shuffling toward wasn't as nice as her parent's small, perfect home. It was part of a slightly run down complex, but it was strangely clean and neat. Even if the blue paint on the door was chipped.
The key turned smoothly in the lock. She knew the sound of the lock snicking out of place would wake him, just as the fact that she hadn't set off his taps would tell him who exactly was walking into his apartment. Sasuke would be expected to dodge at least one trap, just for practice sake. Shutting the door behind her, she leaned against it, breathing in deeply to steady herself as she waited for Naruto to appear. She might have taken some liberty with the key he had given her with that half-smile, but she would never enter further without his permission.
A light kicked on, and Naruto stepped out of his bedroom, his hand rubbing his eyes. They blinked at her for a moment before he shook his head. "Hey, Sakura-chan, something wrong?"
"Can I stay here?"
She had to give Naruto credit. When his friends needed him, he was terribly efficient. Half an hour after stumbling into his apartment she was wearing an oversized shirt and a pair of old shorts, a cup of tea firmly in hand that while faintly bitter, made up for it because it was warm. He was sitting next to her, waiting with a patience that most would never believe he was capable of.
"There was a fire tonight." She said quietly, finding enough energy to speak only after half a cup of tea. "They're looking into what started it, but it was in one of the civilian areas."
Naruto's arm slid across her shoulder. She could have stopped talking there; she knew he understood instinctively where the root of her distress was coming from. She savored that moment before continuing, needing to talk about it now.
"Most of the individuals were small children… most of it was smoke inhalation but we had a few that were severely burned." Her fists clenched around her teacup. "Dammit, I can't stop thinking that if any of them had had even the most basic of training then none of this would have happened. They panicked and they got hurt."
Fingers tugged the teacup out of her hands. She locked her fingers together, her knuckles turning white with the strain. Warm hands pulled her into his lap and his arms settled around her stiff form.
"It's alright, Sakura," he soothed. "I know you did your best."
Biting her lip, she reached up to scrub her face with one hand. "I'm sorry to unload on you."
His breath stirred her hair. "I told you to come to me if you needed to talk to someone, remember?"
She twisted around and pressed her nose against his neck. He didn't seem to mind, settling one arm around her hip. The other hand tangled at the base of her skull, threading through her hair and massaging her scalp. She took several, even breaths, and centered herself. Breaking down now wouldn't do any good, and she had promised a long time ago that she would never cry about things she couldn't change. She was just tired.
"You should be in bed," he told her quietly. "Come on, I'll tuck you in."
She tightened her grip and swallowed. "Will you stay too?"
The fingers tangled in her hair twisted, just a touch. "Sakura?"
"I just…" 'Don't want to be alone yet.' She sighed. "Never mind, I'll take the couch. I'm shorter." She went to untangle herself from around him. He made a noise in his throat, standing smoothly, shifting his grip so that his arm rested just below the curve of her bottom. Squeaking, she hooked a leg around him and held on.
"Come on," he said, hefting her a little. "Do you want to shower?"
She shook her head. "No. I washed up a little at the hospital. Unless you think I smell like blood…"
His lips curved against her ear. "A little, but it's alright. I don't think I have any clean towels anyway. I'll put a load in the wash and you can shower in the morning."
"'Kay," she agreed, relief that he was going to let her maintain her connection a little longer. He was true to his word; tucking her into his bed with a few teasing remarks and then he disappeared. The hum of water pipes had her eyes closing. She was half-asleep by the time he returned and settled next to her smoothly. It was enough that he was close enough to touch, the sound of his breathing relaxing the tight muscles in her back and stomach so that she eventually fell asleep.