Sakura went to visit Naruto the following afternoon. She did the same the next afternoon, and the one after that. She made a point to bring him fresh flowers each time, and he seemed to appreciate it, though she could tell flowers held little interest for him. Still, it was a matter of principle for her. After checking on him and talking to him for a while, she would assume her duties as a medical ninja at the hospital.
If flowers were of a mild interest to him, Naruto made no secret about being interested in the Ichiruka Ramen take out that she had for him when came to see him for the fourth time.
"Waaaaaaah!" Naruto exclaimed as she pulled back the curtain to his room. "Sakura-chan you’re the best!"
"How are you feeling, Naruto? And don’t get too excited, you’re still paying for half of this."
Naruto waved her off. "Yeah, yeah. I’ll pay you back when I can get back to my room." He inhaled deeply through the nose, taking in his favorite aroma. "Ooooh! It smells so good! I thought I was going to choke on this hospital food."
They began with the same idle chatter of the previous afternoons. Naruto prattled on about what nonsense his teacher, Jiraiya, was really up to, and then he began to brag about all the new training ideas he had for himself when he was healed. They discussed disturbing things like who the masked Akatsuki might be, and argued happier gossip like weather or not Shikamaru and Temari were an item. Naruto kept insisting they were, but Sakura would not believe such foolishness.
Neither of them made any mention of that night three days ago, and especially not Sakura’s kiss. But the air in the room was different. It felt heavy and electrified, and even now Sakura was having a hard time not blushing every time she looked into those deep blue eyes. On the other hand, feeding Naruto ramen no longer felt strange at all. It felt normal, as if he had always needed her help with such a menial chore.
As he finished the last bite, and Sakura realized it would soon be time to help with the other patients, she remembered something she had meant to tell Naruto that day. Or maybe she had almost forgotten on purpose. In the end, Sakura decided that it would be selfish and unlike herself to keep such important information from Naruto.
"Oh! I have some good news," she told him as she got up to leave. "Hinata was moved to recovery today. You’ll be able to go and see her soon if you like."
Naruto paused mid-swallow as he was slurping down the rest of the ramen broth and looked up at her with hopeful eyes.
"I’ll be going to see her to aid with her treatment." Sakura continued. "If she’s awake. I can pass on a message for you."
Naruto forced down the last hot swallow, looking thoughtful.
Part of Sakura still felt queasy about the simple friendly offer, but even though Sakura didn’t quite understand it yet, she felt that understanding the relationshipbetween Hinata and Naruto would help reveal the truth about her own heart. As she stood there waiting for Naruto to think of something, which for him she knew might take a while, all the hard questions resurfaced in Sakura’s mind.
Was Naruto right to fear her feelings for Sasuke? If she gave into her feelings for Naruto would he always just be the guy she had to "settle for"? If she loved Naruto, she would have to let go of her feelings for Sasuke once and for all. She owed Naruto that much, but could she really do it?
Part of her would always love Sasuke, of that much she was certain, but did letting go mean she was just one step away from giving up on him altogether? What kind of friend did that make her?
"Just tell her, thank you . . . for everything." Naruto said at last. "Oh, and that I knew she would pull through."
"I’ll tell her." Sakura said. "See you soon, Naruto."
"Do your best, Sakura-chan!" Naruto cheered. "You’ll have us all fixed up in no time!"
Sakura gave him her most heartfelt smile as she left the room and made her way down the sunlit corridors to Hinata’s room.