Re: Shade of the Leaf
"How was dinner with Temari?" Naruto asked as he joined her the next morning, his expression curious. She had already been asleep by the time he had gotten back to his quarters.
"How was dinner with Gaara?" Sakura shot back, adjusting the slightly large tunic that Temari had lent her. Naruto was wearing a similar shirt, and for once Sakura didn't feel like her skin was shriveling up and fleeing internally. Ah well. Such was the desert she supposed.
Naruto studied her out of the corner of his eyes. "You didn't do… girly things all night… did you?"
"Did you belch and scratch yourself and talk about all the strong ninja you had killed?" Sakura returned with a raised brow, the corner of her lips twitching.
"Right." Naruto muttered. Clearing his throat, he offered her his best "we behaved ourselves, really" smile. "Would you believe me if I said we talked politics?"
Sakura laughed. "Only if it was the politics of overtaking the ramen market."
"We're not that bad," Naruto scolded, his own eyes laughing. His eyes grew serious, even though his smile stayed the same. "We did actually talk about a few things."
"Other than ramen?"
"Other than ramen." Naruto agreed, shaking his head.
Walking over, Sakura slipped her arm through his and smiled at him. "I know. Sometimes it’s just too easy to tease you."
"You should be careful, Sakura-chan," Naruto warned as they began their walk to the testing grounds. "One day I might just take you seriously."
"I'm sure I'll think of something when that happens and surprise you." She teased. "You might be the number one unpredictable ninja, but I've had years to watch you."
"I'll keep that in mind." He promised. His eyes moved away from her smile and back towards the landscape in front of them. "We should probably figure out what we are both going to be taking mental notes on."
Sakura nodded. "There isn't going to be a lot of genjutsu used, I don't think. It's possible they have a talented chunin or two, but we would have heard of something through the rumor mills."
"Yeah. But they are going to have a lot of precise chakra use," Naruto pointed out. "Kankuro is a good example of what they can do. Maximum bang for minimum effort."
"They are a lot better at it than we are, the village as a whole." Sakura admitted. "I'll be able to follow what they are doing with their chakra and how it’s different than what even Sensei and I do, if you can make some mental notes on what techniques they are using that we haven't seen before."
"I can do that," Naruto assured her. "Shall we compare notes on our way back to Konoha?"
"We'll have to." Sakura said. "We can't write anything down, even to give it to Sensei. Everything has to stay here," she tapped his temple for emphasis. "Or else we breech our treaty."
Naruto blinked at her. "Then why send me?"
Sakura tilted her head. "Because you need the practice."
He stared at her for a long moment before blinking and smiling, his eyes lighting up bright enough that her chest tightened.
"For believing in me." He said simply.
She snorted, wrapped her fingers around his and squeezing. "Sasuke and I both believe in you, Naruto."
"I know. It's just nice to hear it sometimes."
"Well, don't expect it often. Your head would get so big it would explode if we told you all the time." She poked him in the ribs. "Then what would happen?"
"Naruto-slime." His tone was solemn.
"It wouldn't be that bad, Sakura-chan! I bet I would be very nicely colored slime. I could even live in your bathroom, free of charge."
"Awe, don't… ooomp." Naruto leaned over his gut where she had punched him.
"Sa-ku-ra!" He gasped.
"You better hurry," Sakura informed him as she continued to walk, "or you're going to be late."
She just waved over her shoulder.