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Old 01-12-2009, 11:34 AM   #23
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Re: Shade of the Leaf


Sakura woke slowly, automatically blinking sleep from her eyes. To her relief, the faintly hovering black spots in her vision were no longer impairing her sight. That meant that the careful healing meditations she had been slowly forcing herself into were working. There was still a pounding headache behind her eyes, but it was no longer so unbearable that the lights and faintest noises hurt. Sasuke had been forcing a particularly horrible broth down her throat (really, that was punishment enough) that had helped combat her nausea.

Rolling slowly onto her side, she blinked at the window. The sun was starting to set. She didn't hear the sounds of Naruto or Sasuke moving around in the kitchen, and she tried to remember what Naruto had told her over lunch. Something about a report to Tsunade about something…

Slowly sitting up, she tested her body. Her head didn't spin around, and to her relief, even sliding out of the bed didn't upset her internal equilibrium. Pleased, she sat on the edge of the bed and considered her options.

Today had been a strange mingling of exhaustion and a pounding headache that reminded her of the many times she had drained her chakra to nothing and tried to keep going. Reaching up she ghosted her fingers against the spot where a blow had landed. She hoped Kakashi had the brains to avoid Naruto and Sasuke. Handling both of them would have been a challenge for even the copy ninja. Naruto. Well, even with a pounding headache this had given a chance to consider her relationship with the energetic blond. Never let it be said that a concussion wasn't good for something. Her though process might have been choppy and painful, but she had managed to think. Which was more than the past few months had given her. Time always gave her a chance to come to some realizations and this hadn't been an exception.

She liked being kissed by Naruto. She just didn't know what to do about it. This wasn't like Sasuke. There was blood, sweat, and oaths between them. The bonds couldn't be broken easily, but this was one of the things that could ruin everything; she was torn between nervous anticipation and nausea. Some of that was probably from the concussion, but the way her stomach twisted in on itself wasn't helping.

She needed to breathe. Air that wasn't tinted with Naruto, Sasuke's and her own skin. Running her hands through her bangs, she decided a walk would be a good idea. She was going to get a lecture (well, what was one more?), but at least a walk would give her a chance to clear her head enough to formulate the arguments necessary to deal with Naruto logic. Wincing, she rubbed her temples at the thought. Naruto logic. Now she was actually considering dating the man?

Walking to the closet, she hunted down a long sleeved shirt that Naruto had left in the small closet and pulled it over her head. It wouldn't snow for a few more weeks, but it was chilly outside. Carefully listening for the sounds of anyone approaching she moved to the window. It took some work, but she finally wiggled out the absurdly small window before crawling down the side of the wall with the careful application of chakra. Her head spun a little, but when her headache didn't increase, she took it as a good sign that her concussion was healing.

She walked slowly, enjoying the change of surroundings and the warm air. Finding a bench, she settled down and sighed, closing her eyes. There was so much she still had to think through. Naruto was one of the biggies, but so was her future. Jounin. Sasuke. The Council. It was all enough to give her a migraine. Reaching up to rub her temples, she blinked at the sound of someone calling her name.


Lee's cheerful face greeted her as she turned to find him waving her down, legs moving quickly as he caught up. Thankfully, he seemed to be the only one around and there wasn't any sign of Naruto or Sasuke… yet.

"Sakura," Lee's eyebrows were drawn down with disapproval. "I wasn't aware you were supposed to be out of bed yet."

"I decided I needed fresh air." When his eyebrows drew down even further she leveled him with her best stare. "I'm a medic-nin. I am perfectly capable of deciding when I can get up and move around."

Not that Sasuke or Naruto were going to be particularly enthusiastic about that defense.

Lee however, gave in. She doubted it had anything to do with her glare, and everything to do with the fact that she dragged him back to bed after injuries. He was probably going to save this and use it against her at a later date. Oh well. She would just sick Tenten on him.

"Well! Then I shall sit with you while you breathe in the fresh night air!"

"You will?"

"Of course! It would be beneath the valor of my own heart to leave such a graceful flower to defend herself in a wounded state from the evils of the common world!"

There was the faintest spark of mischief behind the dark of Lee's eyes. She never would have known to look for it if it hadn't been for an off comment from Tenten. Still, Lee was probably the only person who could have managed to not only sit her down on a bench, but also convince her to stay while he dashed off to locate a hot cup of tea for her.

"You really didn't have to get the tea, Lee."

"You were chilled! If I had let you stay in the cold, I would have had to do 500 push-ups."

Really, there was just no arguing with the man. Adulthood had only managed to temper his energy and enthusiasm. Maybe. She wasn't sure anything could temper his enthusiasm for long. Taking another sip of her warm beverage, she felt some of the tension in her shoulders relax. Closing her eyes, she breathed deeply before pausing.

Cracking open an eye, she turned and pinned Lee with her best "I-am-in-charge" look.

"Why would you have had to do 500 pushups?"

Lee paused, his eyes widening beneath his bushy brows. "Sakura! I could not…"

"You were at the meeting with Naruto and Sasuke."

Guilt colored his cheeks an interesting shade of pink. "I had the wonderful chance of speaking to your protectors!"

Tightening her grip on her mug, she leaned forward. "Lee, did they ask you to check on me?"

"It is likely," Lee said, keeping his eyes moving. "That I mentioned that I wished to see how you were recovering."

Huffing, she turned her face away. "That isn't nice, Lee."

The young man launched into a speech, but she wasn't paying any attention. Her eyes had landed on a figure moving silently down the gloom of the street, and she couldn't look away.


"… to make sure that all is well…"


"… beautiful flower of YOUTH!"

"Lee!" This time her voice seemed to catch his attention. Dark eyes landed her face.

"Yes Sakura?"

"Why is the Kazekage here?"

Silence. Apparently she had discovered another temper for the energy that was Lee. Swallowing, Gaara was intimidating even when he wasn't trying to be, she had no promises that he was trying to behave himself just then either. Gamely, she straightened her posture.


"Kazekage-sama," Sakura responded. "Can I help you with something?"

He ignored her question and settled his gaze on Lee. Sakura had to give her friend credit; he bore under the scrutiny well. Studying his face, she decided it was the lack of eyebrows. It took away familiar expressions. Darting her eyes back and forth between the men, she narrowed her eyes when she caught yet another blush gracing Lee's face.

"Naruto sent both of you?" Sakura blurted the words out before she could manage to stop them, and she soon found herself under close scrutiny instead. Setting her mouth in a heavy frown, she did her best to glower at both men.

"I cannot believe this."

Setting her cup down she crossed her arms. Lee at least had the grace to look abashed. Gaara ignored her irritation and chose instead to survey the surrounding areas.

"You passed."

Sakura blinked. "I beg your pardon."

Those eyes flickered back at her and Lee was strangely silent. "You passed."

She knew that… oh. Oh. Staring at Sand's Kazekage, she furiously attempted to put the pieces together around her growing headache. She had fought Kakashi. Tsunade had invited the Kazekage to watch the Jounin trials. This was allowed in their treaty as long as Gaara was willing to let in representatives of Leaf watch the next trials of Sand. More importantly, it was a political statement to the Council that Gaara was considered an important ally and friend to Leaf; someone who had close ties to Naruto as a jinchuriki and as a personal friend. Someone who held a position that Naruto made no pretense at wanting for himself when it came to Leaf. Political maneuvering.

Her master was brilliant.

This was making her head hurt.

She was going to make Naruto's head hurt.

Pursing her lips in irritation at the faint twitch to the Kazekage's lips, she leaned back a little further in her bench, wondered if she was she doing was supremely stupid, and opened her mouth anyway.

"How is your brother?"

It was probably a bit dangerous tossing that out like that in the middle of the street, but the question was safe enough as it was one of the few topics that Sakura could be credited to discussing with the Kazekage of Sand. It was well known that she had saved Kankaro's life, after all, and it wouldn't do to let Gaara think he had come away with anything but even footing between them. She doubted anyone else would pick up the subtext between them, and if they did, there was enough that they wouldn't know that it was reasonable to expect them to be unable to connect those very important dots.

"Still among the living."

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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