tale of galant jiraiya
Join Date: Oct 2008
Thanked 107 Times in 62 Posts
Re: Shade of the Leaf
"Good." Sakura knew that Gaara knew that she wasn't overly interested in whether his brother was still alive or not and the way he turned his shoulder to study the area around them said more than any eyebrows he might not have. He understood that she had gotten his message about what his presence meant at the trials, and he understood that he still owed her a debt for his brother's life. Even if his deliberate turning of his body was a delicate reminder that he would pay in his own time.
She wondered if that sand wall was working again and if a Kazekage bounced any differently than Naruto when they hit brick walls. Before she could decide if testing her theory was as stupid as her gut was telling her, a disapproving voice cut through her musings.
"Sakura-chan! You're supposed to be in bed!"
Twisting on the bench, she leveled Naruto with her most disapproving frown. To her surprise, it hardly fazed him as he breezed over to the bench, a frown of his own planted firmly on his face.
"It's cold outside."
"Lee got me tea."
"You have a concussion."
"You should be in bed!"
"I got tired of counting cracks in the ceiling."
Naruto scowled at her. "You're at Sasuke's. There aren't any cracks in the ceiling!"
Narrowing her eyes, she glared at him. "You sent two ninja's to baby sit me! Did you even bother to tell Sasuke that they were going to be in his apartment?"
"That's not the point."
Ah. A crack in her dear friend's argument. Pouncing on the faint flicker of alarm in his eyes, she leaned back. "So you didn't."
"That's not the point!"
Comfortable in her ability to turn the argument on its heel, she was startled when Naruto leaned forward, his eyes suddenly less than a fingers breath from her own.
"You're hurt." His tone could have been soft except for the hard rumble of temper underneath. Her eyes widened at the sparks of red behind the black of his pupils. "You should have stayed at Sasuke's."
He stood suddenly, his shoulders relaxing as he smiled at Gaara. "How long are you going to stay?"
"I will be leaving in the morning."
"Be safe. We haven't gotten rid of all the Sound-nin yet."
Gaara gave a brief nod.
"Naruto," Sakura started again but was cut off when Naruto turned around and picked her up off the bench.
"Thanks for your help Lee!"
Sakura held her tongue until they were far enough away she hoped the Kazekage couldn't hear them. She needed to maintain some dignity after all.
He stopped moving. They were tucked between two buildings halfway to Sasuke's. She could make out the outline of his jaw and the sparks in his eyes, and she wondered what he saw for a moment before she took a deep breath.
"Why are you carrying me?"
Muscles jumped along his arms and she frowned at him.
"Because we need to get back to Sasuke's and you have a concussion."
The reasonable note in his voice didn't exactly cover his remaining temper. Scowling, she poked him hard in the shoulder. "Put me down."
This jab was chakra enhanced and he winced, but stubbornly held her. "I mean it Sakura. I'm carrying you back."
Setting her teeth, she crossed her arms and studied the lines of his face. Something had happened. She didn't know if it was something from the meeting, or if it had happened during the time she had spent asleep at Sasuke's, but something had gotten under his skin.
"Are we alone?"
He started, but his nod came a moment later.
"Then start talking."
His breath ghosted over her face as he exhaled, but he made no move to put her down. "Kakashi finally got around to updating Tsunade about the Akatsuki's movements."
Sakura pressed her lips together. It must have been important if Naruto was calling Tsunade by her actual name. "Go on."
Another sigh. "They haven't given up."
"We knew that."
"He thinks it's just a matter of time before they make another move."
Sakura bit her lip. "Naruto…"
"Tsunade thinks I should stop going on missions."
"You don't agree with her."
"I won't hide." There was an edge to Naruto's voice now.
Sakura bit her lip and considered everything she had learned tonight. Gaara's silent power play on behalf of Naruto. Her own accomplishment to reach Jounin. Sasuke. The Akatsuki hadn't directly attacked Leaf yet, but she had to believe they knew enough of the village thanks to Itachi (the bastard deserved to rot in his grave) that they would be comfortable making such a move. They knew the strength of the clans that lived here, and they knew their own strength. If Naruto stayed at the village… if he stayed at the village there were multiple responses the council would have.
The worst would be that they would use this to prove their point that Naruto was too dangerous to keep as a loose cannon, regardless of his loyalty to the village. The best would be that it would force the Hyuuga's hand early and they would discover exactly how much support Naruto had among the Clan heads. Hinata was winning favor, but how much would be enough this early in the game. Sasuke legally had a vote, but there was no guarantee that his vote would be acknowledged.
If the Akatsuki did attack, now would be the time to do it. Tsunade had worked hard to smooth things over inside Leaf but there was still some unrest among the larger clans that had nothing to do with political positions. Naruto had the amazing ability to win friends wherever he went, but not even he could be everywhere at the same time. Some would never trust a container for a demon, regardless of his accomplishments.
Which meant they were going to have to do some work themselves. She needed to speak to Shikamaru and Neiji and couldn't. Blowing her bangs out of her face in exasperation, she tried to decide how much work it would take to get Ino alone long enough to ask her some pointed questions.
What they needed was a plan and a course of action to deal with this…
Blinking, she finally glanced up and stared at Naruto whose face was suddenly a lot closer than it had been. She stared at him, and swallowed as now that he had her attention, instead of moving, he watched her. There was an expression in his eyes; a glint of something bright and sparking, and her mouth went dry.
She swallowed around the knot in her throat. His tone was soft, curiously gentle as he whispered the syllables of her name. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath.
… and waited. She didn't know what she was waiting for, but the faintly scratchy feeling of his cheek against hers wasn't it. Blinking her eyes open in surprise, she found herself starring at his hair.
"You're one of my precious people, you know that, right?"
Whatever it had been in his eyes, he had buried it again. Sighing in exasperation, she gave in and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.
"If you think you're going to leave me behind when you do go, I'll beat you so hard Tsunade has to put you in traction."
"Good." Reaching up, she tangled her fingers in his hair for a moment. This was Naruto. Her Naruto. A faint smile tugging at her lips as she breathed in his scent deeply, she savored the moment before she fisted her hand in his hair and pulled.
"Sasuke is waiting for us!" Sakura reminded him, tugging harder. "I refuse to be on the end of one of those stares from him because you made us late!"
"Sakura-chan!" His voice was a whine now and she smiled vengefully and gave another firm tug. "If you are going to insist on carrying me, you blonde idiot, then you can at least walk! Which I should be doing."
"Walking. Ow. Yes. Sakura. Ow. Ow. Ow. That hurts Sakura-chan!"