Sakura had acted surprised, but she hadn’t really been. After all, she enjoyed being with him too. But as soon as Naruto saw that on her face, he changed his tone. He had concluded.
"It’s like you and me are getting closer to Sasuke."
She always appreciated him being optimistic about Sasuke, but at the time she had been somehow, disappointed. His right arm had been in a bulky cast then, just as it was now. That proved problematic for Naruto.
"I guess I’ll help you. Give me your chopsticks." She had said as she slid her stool closer to the frustrated Naruto. She was kind of glad when Sai proved quicker with the chopsticks, but part of her was just as annoyed as Naruto.
Something stirred within Sakura as she watched her old friend sleep. Vaguely, she realized she was lightly stroking his spiky blond hair, running it thoughtfully through her fingers as if it were her own. It was still singed in some places. Sakura froze her hand in place, and felt embarrassed.
"What am I doing here?" She whispered to herself.
She stood up to leave, when the sound of Naruto’s voice made her freeze in her tracks.
"I’m sorry, Sakura-chan," Naruto half moaned.
"Naruto," Sakura said without turning. "You know you don’t. . ."
Sakura had slowly turned back toward Naruto as she prepared her words to convince him he didn’t need to apologize yet again. When she saw him, she realized she was still asleep.
Naruto shifted uncomfortably, making a soft whimpering noise.
"Please, Sakura-chan, Forgive me," he mumbled.
Hearing this, something tugged at Sakura’s heart. Even in his dreams, she thought, he agonizes over that promise.
"Don’t worry, I’ll bring him back. That’s the promise of a lifetime!" He’s said with a smile. Then later, both then and after the first time they lost Sasuke, he’d assured her, "I won’t go back on my word, because that’s my ninja way!"
It had meant so much to her. It was a memory that she would never let slip away.
She crept over to his left side, and placed her hand on his good left hand. She wondered if she could ease his dreams if she spoke softly to him.
"Naruto, its ok," she whispered into his ear. "Next time we will . . ."
"Sakura-chan!" Naruto croaked, thrashing his head from side to side. "I swear I didn’t expect to see you naked, please don’t hurt me!"
It took Sakura a moment to process what Naruto was really dreaming about. She could actually feel her blood pressure rapidly rising. Her teeth ground. She cracked her knuckles. A growl began to form somewhere deep in her throat.
"Na-Ru-To!" Sakura snarled the name as she punched his forehead just hard enough so that she knew that it would really hurt. Naruto was lucky he was already injured, Sakura decided.
"Ow! What? Help!" Naruto cried as he shot up to sitting position. He tried to rub his stricken head with his right arm, forgot it was injured, and cried out in pain again.
Sakura suddenly felt a little guilty. Just a moment before she had decided it best not to wake him up. Still, he shouldn’t be having dreams like that when she was in the middle of having serious feelings for him.
"Shut up, Naruto!" Sakura snapped in an angry whisper. "You’ll wake up the whole hospital."
"Sakura-chan?" Naruto was clearly confused. It almost made Sakura laugh to think of the predicament she had put him in, but there was no turning back now.
"Stop having indecent dreams!" Sakura admonished.
"B-But Sakura, why are you . . ."
"I came to see if I could accelerate your healing." Sakura quickly lied. "Sometimes, when a patient sleeps, their body can respond to healing techniques more readily."
This much at least was true, but Naruto eyed her suspiciously while he adjusted his white pajama gown.
"You should be sleeping too, Sakura-chan." He said while glancing at a circular clock on the wall behind her. "Its two in the morning."
"I . . . I couldn’t sleep." Sakura admitted seriously.
Naruto tilted his head thoughtfully.
"Hmmm. Did you try you meditation techniques?"
Naruto was referring to calming and breathing exercises ninja used to sleep whenever possible when under the stress of a long mission. Sakura had tried some of these, with little success.
"Yes," she replied. "But they didn’t work."
"Glass of warm milk?" Naruto asked.
"No, Naruto I just . . ."
"Don’t be silly, I just . . ."
"Oh, wait. I know! Music!"
"Naruto . . ."
"Hey, I got this neat CD full of relaxing stuff back at my place."
"Naruto, really . . ."
"My keys are over there on the dresser, now if I can just remember where . . ."
"Naruto!" Sakura shook Naruto by his good shoulder to get his attention.
"Please. I’m fine. I just . . .the truth is . . ." Sakura swallowed. Why was this so hard to say? "I just wanted to be . . . with you . . .for a while, Naruto."