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Old 01-13-2009, 03:07 AM   #28
thegodfather2450
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Re: Shade of the Leaf

Sakura sighed, running her fingers through her damp hair. Diplomatic status had given them longer shower time, but she and Naruto had been switching who had a shower on what day to keep from taxing Sand's resources. They could always drown themselves when they got back to Konoha after all.

Leaning against the window in her room, she studied the streets of Suna at night. It wasn't home, but Naruto was right. There was a strange, almost alien sort of attraction to the place. Although she would never actually tell the blond that; a half smile lifted the edges of her mouth into a smile and she pressed her face against the glass and closed her eyes.

The quiet of night here was relaxing, but it did nothing to distract her from the insanity of her thoughts. Naruto had questioned her that morning if she was sleeping, and she had stubbornly ignored him. If she said no, there was little chance her would believe her if she sited the new location of Sand as the reason. She had slept fine the last time she was here. No. This entire problem was quite squarely Naruto's fault!

She just couldn't stop analyzing every movement she and Naruto had made around each other since Sasuke came back. Opening her eyes, she stared blindly down at Sand.

'Logically Sakura; go about this logically!' Lowering her hand, she smiled somewhat ruefully. It wasn't like she was going to be getting a lot of sleep tonight anyway. At least tomorrow she could just tell Naruto she had been over analyzing the Jounin trials they had been watching. That was truth enough.

Settling her shoulder against the wall, she stared at the window. Was he in love with her? She knew there was attraction, those half kisses and real kisses had said enough. The way his eyes would sometimes burn, as if he was holding something back and that it was almost too much for him… well, attraction meant lust and she had already admitted she wanted to jump his bones. She also knew she was far too emotionally involved to sleep with him without some assurances that he was serious about this. A rueful smile curved her lips. Not that Naruto wouldn’t be serious about it, when it came to his friends and those he cared about he was ruthless in making sure they were happy. It was why he was going to be such a good Hokage.

Pushing her hands through her bangs, she stared gloomily through the night. So that meant that her problem were her rules and not Naruto. Her carefully formed and decided rules that had been in place for years on how to deal with Naruto. She wasn't willing to break them. She had already made that mistake with Sasuke, giving too much of herself where it wasn't wanted until she had to dig her heels in and fight to earn the trust she deserved as his teammate. She loved Sasuke. She really, truly did. She just wasn't in love with him. She didn't regret where she was with him. His friendship and his quiet confidence at her back were wonderful. He made her happy the way he was. Naruto… with Naruto she wanted more. Yet, she was so terrified of loosing him to her stupidity.

Loosing Naruto…. Her breath hitched and she swallowed. Loosing Naruto was unacceptable. Sasuke… he was a missing piece that made her feel whole and safe and complete. It was like loosing a limb and finding it was suddenly there again, working and strong. Loosing Naruto would be much, much worse.

Especially if it was her fault; shoulder rounding with exhaustion, she admitted to herself that the crux of the problem. Naruto's ability to forgive was almost endless. Almost. If she managed to screw up in such a way he was forced to choose between their friendship and whatever was delicately growing between them…. there would be no going back. She wasn't sure there would be a second chance.

Yet… he had kissed her. He had watched her with those eyes that were almost starved… had held her hand and picked her up and slept on her couch for no other reason than it was her couch. Had given her his bed when she needed it and the comfort of his presence. He had been her best friend since before she had even realized who he was as a person. Rubbing her temples, she sighed.

So she had two choices. The first was to walk away from what was between them, to hide behind a façade of friendship and pray that Naruto would eventually let what was between them go. The other was to take the risk, to grasp it with both hands and find out what was going on and what she wanted.

Biting her lip, she took a deep even breath. She wasn't a coward, and she had sworn that she would never back out of battle ever again. If this was a battlefield… well, didn't they compare love to war?

Now all she had to do was figure out how to tell him that she was open to his advances…

Looking out the window, she physically started to see Naruto and Gaara standing in the street. One hand was behind Naruto's head and the other was waving to prove a point. The sight of the two ninja's had her breath catching in her throat, and Sakura swallowed.

Maybe she was just going to go blunt with this one. Naruto had never been too particularly good about picking up subtle messages anyway.

XxXxXxXx

Naruto slung his hands behind his head, feeling very satisfied. Cutting his eyes to the man next to him, he considered the Kazekage. Gaara, for his part, was ignoring him, although the corner of one mouth twitched a little, as if he was attempting to hide his own amusement. Ha. Like that would work. He could read Sasuke, after all, and while the lack of eyebrows did manage to keep his expression bland, there were other ways to see things. Like that fact that his hands were loose at his side and the edges of his mouth were deep enough to be a smile. Sort of. If he squinted really hard.

"Your face is going to get stuck like that."

"Everyone keeps saying that," Naruto complained.

Gaara said nothing, but his shoulder twitched, as if he was laughing.

Bastard.

Turning his eyes back to the desert night, Naruto smiled to himself. "I told Sakura this place was beautiful."

There was a hesitation, a slight shift in intensity.

"Oh?"

Naruto grinned again. "She didn't believe me."

Gaara shrugged. "Not many see it."

Naruto gave his own shrug. "I told her I would show it to her."

Gaara's eyes cut over. "Did you."

Rolling his eyes, Naruto flung a hand out and drove a knuckle into the stoic's man's arm. "Just because you’re Kazekage and I'm the future Hokage doesn't mean I won't kick your ass."

Sand shifted around them, but Gaara's mouth had twisted into something resembling a smile. It was slightly creepy, but was a much better version of a smile than he had seen the last time he had talked to him.

"Is that a challenge?"

Naruto thought about it and then shook his head. "Nah. Sakura would kill me if she caught us brawling."

This time, it was a real smile, and Naruto narrowed his eyes. That wasn't exactly a polite smile, now that he thought about it.

"What?"

Gaara's eyes flickered over and above him, and Naruto lifted his head. To his surprised, he caught a flash of pink before the figure moved away from the window.

"Hey, I wonder what she is doing still awake."

Gaara was silent, so Naruto turned back and blinked at the expression on his friend's face. Well, the lack of expression.

"Have you told her yet?"

All the teasing left him, and he shoved his hands in his pockets, his eyes moving away from Gaara and back to the streets.

"No."

"Hn."

Trying for a smile, Naruto shrugged. "You saw her at the trials. Would you want to try something she didn't like with that punch?"

Gaara's expression didn't change. When he finally spoke, his words were careful. "I think I would be lucky to find someone willing to look past this." His fingers moved a little, and Naruto's shoulders rounded.

"Yeah. I know."

"Yet, you hesitate."

"It's Sakura."

"Perhaps you should tell her that."

"You know, between you and Sasuke, I really don't feel like I get to make any of these decisions on my own."

Gaara started walking again. "Try living with Temari."

Naruto was silent and then he grinned. "I see your point."

"Go away, Naruto."

Rolling his eyes, Naruto stretched his neck, feeling a few of the vertebrae pop. He hesitated for a moment, and then turned on his heel.

He wondered if Sakura was up for some conversation.
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