Naruto Uzumaki was in good spirits. Everyone who had fought on the last mission was now safe. His burns no longer pained him, as long as he didn’t make any sudden movements. Even though the bandages itched, and even though he would have to where the cumbersome cast for several weeks, and even though Sasuke had gotten away yet again, he couldn’t think of anything that could ruin his mood. It was only a matter of time before they found Sasuke again, as he was still a priority mission for the Hokage, especially now that she knew from the results of the last mission that there was another Sharingan user of unknown identity running around with the Akatsuki. And next time, Naruto and Sakura wouldn’t be crippled and unable to do anything. But most of all, Sakura . . .
"Do your best, Sakura-chan!" Naruto cheered. "You’ll have us all fixed in no time!"
She turned and smiled at him. It was a smile that made him melt in his core, making his stomach flip and his heart turn to mush. Then she turned and walked away, and Naruto knew that if Sakura knew half the things he was thinking as he watched her go, or to be more specific, the lower half of her go . . . well, he wasn’t likely to survive the experience in his condition. Still, he risked it anyway. She was the perfect model of grace and form to him, despite the naughty thoughts that sometimes came with that opinion.
And she felt something for him too! She’d kissed him, and Naruto was still drunk off the euphoria the experience had brought him. Thinking about it made Naruto feel foolish. Perhaps he should not have made Sakura think twice about what she had just done. Naruto tried to convince himself that the time they spent together now, as lovers, would be worth it. Even if she did go back to loving Sasuke when they got their old friend back, Naruto knew he would treasure every moment of being by her side, holding her in his arms, kissing her again. I could handle the pain, thought Naruto. I did it before, I could do it again.
Yet Naruto was used to being wary of his feelings for such a woman as complex as Sakura, and he had opted to consider her feelings first. It meant that he would have to be patient, and patience was not something Naruto was particularly good at. He could admit that much to himself.
How he longed to feel Sakura’s lips on his again! He needed to hold her close again, to feel her touch. Every time she had come to visit him these past few days, he had yearned for her constantly.
Sometimes he thought he would go mad just at the sight of her, but he actually found her company to be soothing. They were times when he could truly relax, when his mind was most at peace. It was like her presence alone was enough to heal him of any ailment.
The ramen she had brought him today had been a nice consolation prize, and with the smell of his favorite food lingering in the air, Naruto lay back onto his pillow, closed his eyes, and prepared to daydream the afternoon away. Yes, Naruto would be patient.
The rustle of curtains announced the arrival of a new visitor. Naruto kept his eyes closed for the moment, pretending to be asleep but reaching out with his other senses. He tried to guess who it might be this time. Shikamaru and Chouji had come twice before. Those two seemed to have nothing better to do at the moment, and Naruto was glad for it. But this visitor was naturally silent.
Oh no! Naruto thought. Not Sai again. The creepy former member of Anbu "Root" meant well, but when he had come to visit two days ago he had tried to cheer Naruto up by doing some artwork on his cast while signing it. The picture he had drawn was a little too "fluffy" for Naruto’s taste, but Sai insisted he had read in a book that furry animals and rainbows were cheerful to people. Naruto had tried to keep the cast under the covers ever since.