Sakura relaxed, starring into the bustling of the city. It had taken her most of yesterday to feel comfortable in the sand. Footing here was different. You weren't able to plant yourself and take a stand like at home. Sand-nin shifted about and around each other smoothly, as if they had somehow managed to incorporate the earth to their advantage.
To her utter disgust, Naruto had managed it to.
"It's like walking on water."
Sakura turned, her expression blank. "What?"
"Walking." He said, a slow smile curling the edges of his mouth. "It's like you're on water."
"You were terrible at walking on water."
"But I'm good at it now," he returned. Clasping his hands behind his head, he grinned. "You like it here, right?"
"You can do better than that!" Naruto scolded, eyes laughing at her.
Sakura narrowed her eyes. Before she could speak up, a voice cut through their banter.
"Are you two always like this?" Temari asked, hand shielding her eyes as she walked over.
"Only when he is being annoying." Sakura said cheerfully.
Naruto made a wounded face. "I'm hurt Sakura-chan. I'm never annoying."
"Except when you are."
"If I was a lesser man, I would pout."
Shaking her head, Sakura turned her back to him and faced Temari. "How many will be taking the test."
"Enough to keep you here longer than expected." Temari said with a shrug. "Gaara has the list. Which is why I came down here. He would like to speak to both of you, in his office."
"Playing message-girl?" Naruto questioned, a cheeky smile on his face.
"Keeping the strange-nin out of trouble." Temari returned. "Tsunade feels that you need a babysitter and Gaara agreed. I just got stuck with the short stick."
Sakura rolled her yes. "And you said we were bad."
"I can only speak the truth," Temari said pleasantly.
"I'll be sure to pass that along to Shikamaru," Sakura said as she followed the Sand-nin. "He appreciates… truth."
Temari smiled, showing off her teeth. "You do that."
"Sakura," Naruto whispered. "You sure that's a good idea?"
"Shikamaru could use a little excitement," Sakura returned with a shrug. "He gets bored easily."
"No," Naruto corrected with a laugh. "He just doesn't bother with anything too troublesome."
Sakura winked at him. "I think trouble might have just found him, anyway."
Naruto was silent before he grinned. "I win."
She stopped and stared at him. "What?"
"Neji and I have a bet."
"Neji and you?"
"Yup. And I win."
Naruto just grinned.
"Hey! Are you two coming or not?"
"Yes, yes," Sakura called back as she grabbed Naruto's arm. "Win what?"
"It's just a little something between me and Neji." Naruto informed her, eyes dancing. "Don't worry about it."
"I'm going to beat you so hard…"
"That Tsunade has to put me in traction. I know."
Sakura lowered her lashes. "Are you mocking me?"
"We are here!" Temari said loudly as she opened the door.
"I would never mock you," Naruto said, eyes wide and his hand pressed over his heart as they walked into the room. "You hit too hard."
"Do I even want to know?" Gaara questioned. Sakura looked over at him, but his features gave nothing away.
"They have been doing this since we started walking," Temari informed her brother. "We should probably let them fight it out. Put them out on display for the village. Show off the strength of our allies."
Sakura took a deep breath before bowing to the Kazekage. "Thank you for the hospitality of Sand."
Gaara returned the motion with a half bow. "Sand welcomes you."
Naruto leaned forward, a wide grin on his face. "I brought ramen."
Interest sharpened his eyes and Sakura bit down on a groan when she realized Naruto had been telling the truth. It had to be a jinchuuriki thing. Lacing her fingers behind her back to keep from smacking Naruto in the back of his blond head, she took a deep breath. Reaching into her pack, she pulled out the scroll that Tsunade had requested she deliver.
Naruto tilted his head. "Did I know you had that?"
"No." Sakura said mildly. "You didn't."
Gaara accepted the scroll with a nod, before his eyes went back to Naruto. "You will have dinner with me."
Temari leaned forward and whispered. "You're with me."
Sakura's lips twitched. "You think it's a good idea to leave those two alone?"
"Better than being forced to sit next to them while they try to out eat each other in some of strange, male bonding." Temari muttered.
Sakura hesitated and then shrugged. "Sure. Better than ramen."
Naruto turned and faced the two women, his expression suspicious. "Nothing is better than ramen."
Sakura sighed heavily. "See what I have to deal with?"
"Right." Temari muttered. "I thought I had it bad!"