Naruto woke her up twice; once to go and put the towels in the dryer, and once just before dawn. Rolling onto her side, she watched him sleepily as he pulled clothes out of his closet and into a very familiar pack.
"You have a mission?" Her voice was gravelly from sleep, and she knew she must look a mess, but when he turned, his smile wasn't at all mocking.
"Yes. I'll be gone a few days." He turned back to his packing and she sat up, attempting to clear the sludge that had settled between her ears when she was sleeping. Once she felt a little coherent, she realized he was already dressed.
"I'm sorry to keep you up last night," she mumbled.
He laughed softly, walking over and sitting on her side of the bed. Fingers brushed away her hair softly. "Go back to sleep, Sakura-chan. Its just now dawn. I'll let Tsunade know your going to be a little late this morning."
She blinked at him. "I should really go in."
His eyes narrowed. In her sleep-fogged brain, she was startled by how much fox was bleeding out of him. The early morning light burnished his hair and brought out the whisker-marks on his cheeks. The narrow strip of blue that wasn't hidden by his lashes was so very bright.
"Stay in bed, Sakura-chan. Get some rest."
Before she could argue, he had leaned forward and pressed his mouth to the corner of hers. It wasn't exactly a kiss, but it was surprising enough that whatever argument she was going to make melted in her brain. Rough fingertips smoothed across her cheek.
"Get some rest."
Then he was picking up his bag and moving out of the bedroom, leaving her with her fingers pressed to the corner of her mouth.
Sakura stared at the remains of her lunch. It was hard to eat when your brain wasn't really into the mechanics of it. Using her chopstick to grind tiny, individual grains of rice into mush, she frowned.
Naruto had kissed her. The edge of her mouth still tingled. She had tried to talk to Ino about it, but the words had died in her throat as her friend watched her with unblinking eyes. She already knew what Ino's advice was going to be. She would tell her to go for it. Her fingers tightened around her chopstick.
Go for what?
If she could just get her brain to stop replaying the faint feel of slightly chapped lips, hot breath, and the way her stomach had tightened in response to both, she might be able to figure it out what it was that Naruto was thinking. Or what he wasn't thinking, but even that wasn't fair because Naruto did think. He just didn't think the same way she did.
Sighing, she set the chopsticks down and lifted her cup of hot tea to her lips and sipped. When they had been younger, she knew Naruto had had a crush on her. Everyone had known it. She had just assumed he had outgrown it around the time that they had put their entire lives into saving Sasuke. Even if he had promised her he would bring him back, there had never been any doubt that Naruto would have pulled down mountains if he had needed to.
She should have seen this coming. The way she had noticed him watching her, that kiss on her palm after Kisame…
Shivering a little, she ran her finger through her bangs.
Okay. So Naruto was probably interested. How did she feel about that? She couldn't say it wasn't a matter of attraction both ways. There had been too many encounters over the past year that that told her the attraction was mutual.
Still, that didn't tell her what she wanted to do about it! Standing up, she gathered her things, dropping the correct amount of coin on the table. She had to get back to work. She just didn't have the time needed to think this through right now. If she was lucky Naruto's mission would keep him gone long enough that she could think it through.