INTRODUCTION

I'm Back! And welcome to my latest work. A little one shot I created recently. I hope you enjoy. As always I love to begin by stating that I do not own Naruto.

MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR

Okay, for those who are familiar with my work I'd like to thank you all for your patience and support while I was away the last several months. The following is a one shot I was inspired to right during that time. I hope you enjoy it. I have several other one shots that I plan to release over the course of the next month. Now I know many of my readers have been messaging me, wanting to know when both of these ongoing series will restart. I'm happy to say I have the starting dates set for both:

Chronicles of the Seventh: Curse of the Namikaze (Sunday, September 7th 2014)

Seven Sins (Sunday, September 14th 2014)

In the meantime I hope you continue to support my work and enjoy my short stories. And please remember to leave a little review when done reading this one. Thanks.


Fever

"Hey Granny Tsunade! What's up?!" Naruto yelled excitedly as he entered Tsunade's training hall. It was an expansive room with four massive marble pillars a small koi pond and was adorned with antique sculptures and portraits of various artists from around the world. Tsunade was sitting on a mat near the pond with her legs crossed in quiet meditation when the young man barged in. "Granny?" Naruto called again. Tsunade didn't answer.

"Granny? Hey granny!" He yelled again as he came up close and moved from one side of her to the next while staring at her closed eyes. "Granny! Hey! Hey! Wake up! Granny!" As Naruto continued his onslaught, Tsunade began to grow visibly tense and a large vein began to throb on her forehead.

Tsunade's eyes suddenly flew open. "Naruto!" She barked angrily. "How many times do I have to tell you not just barge in here when I'm training my disciples or meditating?!"

Naruto stopped and scratched the back of his head. "Sorry granny, but I was in the neighborhood and it's just past noon. I was hungry and wanted to see if Sakura-chan wanted to go with me to Ichiraku's."

Tsunade sighed and got to her feet. "Sorry kid, but she's not here." She replied.

"Hmm. Really?" Naruto answered. "That's strange. She never misses a training session with you."

"I know. I haven't seen her since yesterday when she said she wanted to go see Sasuke-kun about something."

"Sasuke, huh?" Naruto said. The smile on his face faded just a bit. "Yeah. I guess she probably would want to see him."

"Don't start that again."

"Start what?"

"Moping around." Tsunade replied as she rolled up her mat. "Every time anyone mentions Sakura and Sasuke together you act like a dog just crapped in your shoes. If it bothers you so much how about you step up and take the lead for once. Women don't like guys who are too scared to step up Naruto. Considering all of the things you've faced in your life, I'm shocked you're still scared of something like this."

Naruto stared solemnly at Tsunade for a minute before a smile returned to his face. "Sorry Granny. But I really don't know what you're talking about. Sakura and I are just friends."

"Tch! Whatever."

"Well, see ya 'round Granny." Naruto said with a wave as he turned to leave. Naruto walked out of the room and as the door closed behind him he stood in the hallway quietly as he thought about Tsuande's words. Damn it! He thought. Why am I so pathetic?

"Naruto?"

Naruto looked up to see Ino walking out of the adjoining room that contained a large bath and sauna for Tsunade to unwind after her training. Ino was wearing tight shorts and a tank top. She was slightly damp and she was in the middle of drying her hair. "What are you doing here? And why do you look like you just heard Ichiraku's went out of business?"

"Eh!" Naruto said in surprise. "I just came by to invite Sakura-chan to lunch. But she wasn't here."

"Oh. She's at home. She said she wasn't feeling well."

"Not feeling well? You mean she's sick?"

Ino nodded. "Yeah, she contacted me early this morning and told me to let Tsunade-sama know."

"But wait, why would Granny not tell me?"

Ino sighed as she sat on a nearby chair and continued to dry her hair. "She probably didn't want you to worry. Or better yet, she probably didn't want to anger you."

"Anger me? Over what?"

A Few Minutes Later

"What?! Are you serious?!" Naruto exclaimed. Ino merely nodded as she watched Naruto fume. "So you're telling me, that Sakura-chan went to Sasuke to invite him out and he left her waiting outside? And she got caught in that rain storm yesterday?"

"Looks like it." Ino replied. "Makes sense that she would get sick if she got caught out in that. It was raining pretty bad yesterday." Naruto was so angry he clenched his fists and gritted his teeth while Ino merely looked on. "So? What do you plan to do about it?"

Naruto looked at Ino for moment before turning and walking down the hallway until he reached the exit. He quickly stepped outside into the open air and began to walk faster and faster before he was soon running at full speed. Suddenly his body flared with chakra that covered him in a cloak. He then leapt high into the sky far above the village and soared towards his target that, he could tell was somewhere in the outskirts.

Meanwhile

Sasuke took a deep, measured breath. His eyes were closed as he allowed his other senses to take control. He was standing in an open field surrounded by large trees on every side. The field was torn apart, large boulders, some the size of small homes, lay over-turned and shattered. This was a testament to Sasuke's relentless training. But he wasn't finished yet. Instantly, Sasuke's eyes flared open. His pupils were now black and red. Mangekyo Sharingan active. He thought.

Sasuke immediately drew several kunai and held them between his fingers on each hand. An instant later he threw them all ahead at several straw targets he'd had prepared. While still airborne, Sasuke released a massive charge of electricity that raced out past the kunai and struck the feet of each target. Immediately he leapt into the sky and using his sharingan, ignited each kunai in black flame an instant before they struck their targets. And as he came down he aimed at a massive boulder, the cloak of Susanoo enveloped him and using its large blade he sliced the boulder in half like a watermelon and landed like a cat in between the two halves. He then tensed and released a massive explosion of black flame in all directions, obliterating the stone completely, leaving nothing but ash.

Sasuke closed his eyes once more and took a deep breath. Calming himself, he opened his eyes. They were once again normal. Sasuke sighed as he looked around at his handy-work. Not good enough. He thought. I need to improve my transitioning speed from one technique to the next. This won't do.

Suddenly sensing danger, Sasuke moved instinctively. He leapt back and away just as Naruto landed with unbelievable force, smashing the ground where Sasuke stood. Within a heartbeat he reduced half of the open field into a smoking crater. "Sasuke!" He screamed wildly.

Sasuke landed on a broken piece of rock and calmly observed Naruto. "If you wanted to spar you could have just said so. What's with the theatrics?"

"Shut up!" Naruto yelled angrily as he began to walk up out of the crater towards Sasuke. "I'm tired! I'm sick and tired of how you treat her!"

"What the hell are you going about now?" Sasuke asked.

Naruto grabbed Sasuke by the collar. "I said shut up, you bastard! I've had enough! Why do you always have to treat Sakura-chan like a nuisance all the damned time?! Don't you know how she feels about you?!"

"Oh?" Sasuke said flatly. "This again?"

"Is that all you have to say?! Sakura-chan came to invite you somewhere and you blew her off. Now she's sick because she was waiting for you in the rain asshole! What do you have to say for yourself?!"

"Umbrella." Sasuke replied.

"Huh?"

Sasuke grabbed both of Naruto's hands and had him let go. "Umbrella. If she had taken the time to pay attention to the weather she'd have known to bring one. Is that not true?"

The cloak surrounding him slowly died away. "W-Well yeah."

"And if she had just left after I told her I wasn't interested instead of waiting around like an idiot she wouldn't have gotten caught in the rain. Right?"

"B-But you…" Naruto stuttered.

"And if she hadn't chosen to stay out in the rain she wouldn't have gotten sick and I wouldn't have to deal with this nonsense now. Is that not also true?"

"W-Well…"

"So it seems to me, the cause of all this is Sakura herself. Not me."

"B-But…I…you…"

"Now are we done here?" Sasuke asked as he turned and began to walk away. "It's bad enough you destroyed my training grounds. Now I need to find another. So annoying."

"Wait!" Naruto yelled. "Aren't you going to check on her?"

"Tch!" Sasuke replied. "Sakura is one of the most accomplished medical ninjas of our era and you want me to be concerned because she has the sniffles? Don't be ridiculous."

Naruto clenched his fists and stared at the ground in frustration. "That might be true but, as her friends we should…" Naruto looked up and found that he was alone. "What the..?! Damn it! I hate when he does that!"

Sometime Later

Naruto walked through the city streets, grumbling to himself. "Damn that son of a bitch, Sasuke. Why does he always have to act all cool and superior to everyone all the damned time? He's no better than me! Asshole!"

Naruto came to a stop and looked up at the home in front of him. The mailbox in front of the door was etched with the name Haruno on the side. I wonder how she's doing? I hope it's not too bad. Naruto walked up to the door bell. Maybe I should just check on her for a sec. He paused just before he pressed it. "Argh! What am I doing?!" He yelled as he pulled on his hair.

I can't just ring her bell and ask to come up! He thought. That would be just kind of creepy wouldn't it?! To just show up unannounced like this would just be odd?! She'll probably think I'm stranger than she already probably does.

Naruto walked away from the door. He stopped for a second and took a deep, audible sigh. Looking back and up at the windows, he frowned. I don't know what I was thinking coming here. Besides, Sasuke's probably right. I shouldn't worry.

Naruto began to walk away. He reached the end of the block and slapped his own forehead. Tsunade's words from earlier echoed in his head. I'm such an idiot. He thought as he paced back and forth slapping his forehead over and over.

"Naruto?"

Naruto opened his eyes and saw Ino along with Sai walking towards him. "Why is it I always seem to walk in on you doing odd things lately?"

"Why are you slapping yourself Naruto-kun?" Sai asked. "Is that some new, odd form of training?"

"Shut up." Naruto said, sneering at Sai. "I'm in no mood." Naruto looked down to see Sai holding a large package. "What's that?"

"Oh! This is just some groceries I brought." Ino said with a smile. "I was just headed over to Sakura's to make her soup. Her parent's went out of town and she's alone. I figured this would help."

"And why are you here Sai?"

"Oh! He's here to help me!" Ino said proudly as she wrapped her arm around Sai's. "I figured this could be a pleasant date for us!" Ino blushed.

Sai glared at Ino. "This is not a date."

"Of course it is silly." Ino replied with a smile so wide it bordered on creepy.

"No it's not."

"Uh huh!"

"Stop it. Stop talking."

"You know you love me. Admit it." Ino said as she hugged him tighter.

"Ugh!" Sai groaned in annoyance with a roll of his eyes.

"Anyway, why are you around here, Naruto?" Ino asked after letting go of Sai and leaning in towards Naruto.

"What? Who, me? N-No reason. I was just um,,,ah…in the neighborhood." Naruto stuttered nervously.

"Is that so?" Ino asked as she leaned in closer with a sly, foxlike grin. "Is that all?"

"Y-Yeah." Naruto answered as he hoped she didn't notice how much he was sweating. "I was just on my way home. This is a shortcut."

"Your apartment is on the other side of town." Sai said.

"Shut up!" Naruto yelled.

"Home huh?" Ino replied as she tapped her lip and looked up at the sky. She then snapped her fingers and smiled. "So that means you don't have anything to do right now, right?"

"Well…no. I guess." Naruto replied.

Ino suddenly took the bag of groceries from Sai and pushed them into Naruto's arms forcefully. "Good! Then you can come with us to Sakura's!"

"Huh!" Naruto exclaimed. 'N-No! I can't! You see I…I…"

"What's the problem?" Ino asked leaning in and glaring at him angrily. "Sakura is one of your precious friends and teammates right?"

"Well yes, but…"

"And she's sick right now! Plus she's home alone! Are you really okay with that? Don't you think the right thing to do is to at least make sure she's okay?"

"Well…I guess…but…"

"Good! Then let's be off! " Ino said with a sudden smile. Naruto was astonished how quickly her moods could swing. Ino turned Naruto around and pushed him back towards Sakura's home.

"Well then," Sai said. "Since Naruto-kun is going with you then you won't need me. So if you don't mind…"

"Oh no you don't!" Ino yelled as she grabbed Sai's hand and pulled him along. "You're still coming. I've waited a long time to get you on this date. I'm not letting it go. "

"This isn't a date." Sai replied as he was pulled along against his will.

"Yes it is."

"No."

"I can't hear you."

"Please stop talking."

Moments Later

Ino rang the bell several times as the threesome stood at the door. "Look Ino," Naruto said. "I really don't think I need to be here for this. I mean I'm not much of a cook and…"

Just then the door slowly opened and Sakura peaked her head out. She was pale, her hair was un-kept and her eyes were drawn.. A thick, wool blanket was wrapped around her. "Who is it?" She asked in a hoarse voice. She coughed several times.

"Damn Sakura." Ino replied. "You look like death."

"Oh! Hey guys." Sakura replied. "What are you guys doing around here?"

"What does it look like?" Ino asked as she gestured at the groceries in Naruto's hands. "We're here to help you recover. I'm going to make my famous miso soup."

"Aw, guys really don't have to…"

"Nonsense." Ino replied as she barged passed Sakura and into the house. "You look like crap. I bet you're not even eating well. How do you expect to recover quickly like that?" Ino looked back to see the bewildered faces of her friends. "Well? You two boys just going to stand out there like that? Get in here and close the door. That draft can't be good for Sakura's flu."

Sakura looked to Naruto and Sai and nodded. "Sorry about this Sakura-chan." Naruto said with an awkward smile. "Ino kind of did the same thing to me."

"Whatever." Ino replied. "Naruto, follow me into the kitchen. Sai, run a bath for Sakura."

"I don't need a bath." Sakura replied. She was clearly annoyed at Ino for storming in like a drill sergeant.

Ino smiled. "Clearly your nose isn't working right. I smelled you as I passed by. You need a bath sweetie."

"Eh!" Sakura exclaimed as she turned bright red. She looked at Naruto who was looking up at the ceiling and whistling nervously.

Sai was looking at Naruto with confusion as to why he was acting so strange."She does have a point Sakura." Sai said with a smile. "You do stink pretty bad."

"Shut up!" Sakura yelled as she punched Sai hard in the face sending him tumbling to the ground before sprinting up the stairs.

"Not the face!" Ino yelled as she leapt to help Sai up. "Are you okay baby?"

What the hell did I get myself into here? Naruto wondered as he scratched his head.

Later

"Okay, Ino. The bath it ready." Sai said as he walked down the steps and back into the kitchen where she was busy at work preparing the soup. Naruto was there assisting her.

"Great." Ino replied. "Have you finished chopping up those carrots Naruto?"

"Yeah. Yeah." Naruto answered. "Why the hell am I helping you with this anyway?"

Ino smiled. "Don't you know anything, you blockhead? Soup only works on a cold if it's made with love."

Naruto turned bright red. "L-Love?"

Ino smiled slyly. "Yep. Now you boys wait here. I'm going to help Sakura in the bath. Please keep an eye on the soup, Naruto."

"Right." Naruto replied.

The boy's watched Ino walk to the steps. She stopped at the bottom and glared at Naruto. "No peeking while we're in there."

"Hey! Why are you telling that to just me?!" Naruto screamed, clearly offended. Ino stuck her tongue out mockingly before ascending the steps.

Naruto groaned as he looked at the pot cooking over the open flame. He then walked over and sat in the couch next to Sai with a thud, his shoulders slumped. "What rotten luck." He grumbled. He then looked to Sai who was staring back at him.

"Beautiful weather we're having." Sai said.

"What?"

"I read in a book that in social circumstances such as this it is customary to engage in what is referred to as small talk. You know, about things like the weather, a persons' day and generally anything else that you in reality don't give a damn about. So…beautiful weather isn't it?"

"Uh huh. Okay, yeah the weather is nice today I guess."

"Yes. It is pleasant. I heard it might rain tomorrow."

"Sai, I really would prefer not to talk about the weather." Naruto said.

"Oh, I see." Sai said as the boys were once again quiet. A moment passed before Sai looked to Naruto again. "So how is your day going?"

"How's my day?" Naruto repeated with annoyance. "How the hell do you think my day is going?"

Sai stared at him blankly. "Is this one of those trick questions? Because I have no idea."

"Ugh!" Naruto exclaimed as he buried his face in his hands.

Meanwhile

Sakura was lying in her bed, wrapped in her blanket like a cocoon with only her face visible. There was a knock on the door. "Go away Ino."

Ino opened the door. "I'll take that as you allowing me in."

"I said go away."

"Nope. We need to get you back up and about. As your friend it's my duty to look out for you while your parents are out."

"But why did you have to bring them with you?" Sakura whined.

"Sai? He's with me on a date." Ino said with a blush.

"You're still trying to bully him into loving you?"

"Shut up!" Ino yelled.

"And what about Naruto?"

"Hmm," Ino said with a sly grin. "Happy accident?"

"Ino." Sakura said with a dubious expression.

"Whatever." Ino replied as she pulled the sheets off of her friend. "Who cares why they're here. You need to get your butt up and hop in the tub and be thankful you have such great friends to look out for you." Ino pulled a reluctant Sakura up on her feet. "Now march. Besides I'm sure tohose boys love the fact that they're here."

Meanwhile

Naruto and Sai sat in perfect silence next to each other. The only sound was the steady ticking of a nearby clock. Naruto cleared his throat and sat back in Sakura's couch. Sai looked at him and gave him a trademark fake smile. Naruto nodded back in response.

A Short While Later

Sakura sat submerged in water to her shoulders in her tub surrounded by bubbles as Ino sat on a small stool on the outside, just behind her friend. Ino was washing Sakura's hair and brushing out the tangles. "You should take better care of your looks Sakuira. Being sick is no excuse for not trying to look your cutest."

"Tch! What's the point?" Sakura replied. There was a great sense of melancholy in her voice.

Ino sighed. "Is this about what happened between you and Sasuke-kun? You need to get over that already. Sasuke-kun already rejected me and you don't see me moping about."

"Easy for you to say." Sakura replied. "You never stood a chance with Sasuke-kun in the first place."

Ino grimaced and dunked Sakura's head below the water. "Oops." She said with a grin as Sakura, coughed and spat up water. "Sorry. My hand tends to slip when dealing with bitches."

"O-Okay! Okay! I'm sorry!" Sakura yelled as she wiped the water and her drenched hair out of her eyes. "That was a low blow."

"What's with the attitude anyway?" Ino asked. "I know you're not feeling well but…"

"It's not that." Sakura said. "It's just that I'm so damned frustrated. Nothing I try ever works with Sasuke-kun. This time I brought tickets to tomorrow's concert and he wouldn't even bother to come out to speak to me."

Ino sighed heavily as she went back to fixing Sakura's hair. "Maybe it's time you accept the fact that Sasuke-kun isn't into you."

"Ino." Sakura replied with a glance in her direction.

Ino placed her hand on her friends shoulder. Despite the cool water, it was remarkably warm. "I'm serious Sakura. Look how long you've chased him. All the years that have gone by thinking it would happen. Maybe it's time you move on. I mean can you honestly say you love him? Are you chasing him because of love or because you're afraid of facing what's next."

Sakura sat up in the bath and looked back at her friend. "What's next?"

Ino smiled. "Naruto…"

Sakura groaned under breath and there was a pained expression on her face that could not be denied.

"…was here in the neighborhood when Sai and I came by." Ino continued undeterred by her friends' reaction. "I'm positive he was thinking about coming by to check on you. That guy really cares about you."

"I know." Sakura replied as she turned and sat back in the tub. "I know. It's just…"

"You don't feel the same." Ino sake

Sakura immediately turned to face Ino, splashing water all around as she did so. "No! I-I mean yes! I-I do like him! Everything that we've been through. All the times he's been there for me...supporting me. Of course I care about him." Sakura turned back in the water and nervously played with her fingers. "It's just that…just…"

Sakura turned bright red. "Argh! I'm an idiot!" She yelled before submerging herself down to her lips in the water.

"Yep. You are." Ino replied. "But I get it. You don't feel like you're good enough for him so long as you still have feelings for Sasuke-kun right?" Sakura nodded. "Well, I'm not sure how you fix that. But you better figure something out. Naruto isn't exactly being overlooked by the ladies. Despite how goofy he looked as a kid he actually turned out to be pretty hot. And with everything he's done for the village he's now the most eligible bachelor in the Land of Fire."

"Really?" Sakura asked. "I knew he was getting some attention but…"

"Some attention?!" Ino responded incredulously. "Are you kidding? You've been too focused on your training or chasing Sasuke-kun, Sakura. And I guess Naruto has been making an effort to keep that kind of thing away from you but the truth is that guy is getting confessed to by a different girl every day. I even heard that many of the women are placing bets between themselves as to which one can get him. Women from other villages are even coming here just to take a shot."

"Okay I get it! Shut up already!" Sakura exclaimed.

"Calm down." Ino replied reassuringly. "It looks like he's been turning then all down though. It's probably because he's waiting to see what you do. But the truth is, if you don't do something even he will stop waiting."

Sakura sighed. "So that's what's been going on, huh?"

"Mhmm." Ino replied. "Hell, even I have to admit that I've been considering making a move too." Ino chuckled silently to herself as she sported a Cheshire cat smile.

"Yeah right." Sakura replied. "We all know you like your boy's pasty and brooding. And Naruto isn't into selfish women like you."

"What was that?!" Ino yelled as she once again dunked Sakura below the water. Sakura screamed as she flailed about. "That's what I thought you said."

Later

"Well, that's that." Ino said as she walked down the stairs and back into the living room where Naruto and Sai sat waiting. "You boys have fun while I was away?"

"Sure." Naruto answered as he and Sai got to their feet. "Is Sakura okay?"

"Well, she still has a pretty high fever." Ino replied as she entered the kitchen. "But I think the bath was good for her. Why don't you go up and see her?"

"Up?" Naruto asked nervously. "You mean…up…in her room?"

"Well, that's where she is right?" Ino answered.

"B-But I…I-I've never been in a…girls' room before. And she hasn't given me permission or anything."

"Nonsense." Ino responded. "How can she give permission when she's sick in bed. Besides, I'm giving you permission to go up there and give her this." Ino handed Naruto a glass of water. "She must be thirsty after her bath right?"

Naruto took the water and stared at it for a second. "Can't you just take it?"

Ino groaned. "I've already made her a meal and helped her bathe. How much else am I supposed to do?! Did you just come here to laze around?!"

"Well, you…kinda forced me to come here actually." Naruto mumbled just loud enough for her to hear.

Ino's cheeks became flushed as she angrily glared at Naruto. "GET YOUR DUMB ASS UP THOSE STEPS!" Ino screamed so loud the walls shook and both Naruto and Sai felt the hairs on the back of their necks raise. A shiver a fear ran down both their spines.

"Yes sir! Moving sir!" Naruto yelled back as he leapt up the stairs two and three at a time while careful not to spill a single drop.

Once he'd vanished upstairs, Ino sighed and slumped her shoulders. She moved several strands of hair that hung loosely over her eyes. "God, I swear those two are making this whole thing so damned difficult. Anyway, now that he's gone it's time for part two of my plan."

"Part two?" Sai asked. Ino had a devious smile on her face as she rubbed her hands together.

Meanwhile

Naruto found himself frozen in front of Sakura's door. Her room is on the other side. He thought. A girls' room. Sakura's room. Naruto took a deep breath. I could take on Madara. I can do this. Naruto raised his hand and knocked on the door three times.

"Come in Ino." Sakura replied.

"Actually…it's um…Naruto." No answer came from the other side. Naruto put his ear to the door as he swore he heard light thumping coming from the other side. "Ino asked me to bring you this water. She said you were thirsty." Still there was no answer but he swore he could hear movement. Naruto could feel his heart beating faster and his resolve weakening with every passing second. "Maybe…I'll just leave this here at the door. You can come get it when you're ready."

Naruto was about to put the glass down when he heard Sakura's voice. "Come in." Naruto tensed as he heard her. Naruto gulped as he reached for the doorknob.

Meanwhile

Sakura was breathing hard as she lay in bed with her thick sheets drawn up to her neck. A moment ago when she heard Naruto's voice on the other side of the door she was shocked. Naruto! She thought as she suddenly felt a surge of panic. Damn that Ino! Sakura immediately looked around. The room was a mess with some clothes strewn about and empty containers of instant ramen she'd been eating since she fell ill. She was instantly horrified when she noticed that among the clothes were several pairs of bras and even panties.

Panicked, Sakura leapt out of bed and did her best to remove the clothes. She grabbed a bunch and frantically stuffed them into the nearest draw while kicking whatever was left along with the containers under her bed. Naruto knocked again as she ran back to her bed and leapt under the sheets. She was about to speak up when she saw another bra sitting on top of her covers. Damn! She thought as she grabbed it. With no where to put it and with Naruto talking about walking away, she had no choice but to hold on to it under the sheets. "Come in!" She said as she pulled the sheets over her.

As she finally fell back onto her pillow a wave of dizziness hit her. The burst of adrenaline she'd felt in that moment was wearing off and the affects of her flu hit her like a brick wall. I shouldn't have pushed myself so hard. She thought as she heard a click and the door slowly opened.

"Hey." Naruto said as he poked his head inside. "I've got your water here." Naruto showed Sakura the glass but didn't come inside.

"Okay." Sakura replied. "Can you give it to me?" Naruto took a tentative step inside and stopped. "You don't expect me to reach it when you're all the way over there, do you?"

Naruto gulped and looked around the room. "You got it." He said as he cautiously walked inside. He looked around the room as he made his way across. The walls were adorned with pictures of Sakura and her family and friends. There was even one of Team Seven when they just formed under Kakashi.

There was a small desk with several papers, pencils and medical journals strewn about and of course, several teddy bears of all different colors and shapes. Naruto walked over to the side of Sakura's bed and placed the glass on her nightstand. "Thanks." Sakura said.

"No problem. How do you feel?"

"Not that great, actually. I just can't seem to shake this cold. Thanks for coming by today. I know Ino practically dragged you here."

"No!" Naruto yelled. "I-I mean…I'm happy to come by. I was concerned about you. You don't really get sick like this."

"Have a seat." Sakura said as she glanced over at her chair.

"Thanks." Naruto answered as he pulled it over and sat. He was grateful for the seat as it seamed to calm his raging nerves. "It feels strange to be the one sitting here. Usually you're the one taking care of me."

Sakura smiled. Naruto could see how flushed and sweaty she was. "Yeah. I guess I should be more mindful of the weather. It's my fault I guess."

Naruto's mood seemed to darken a bit. "No it's not." He said in a low voice.

"Huh?"

"I said, no it's not! It was Sasuke's. All he had to do was come out to speak to you. You went all that way to see him and he couldn't even be bothered to talk to you. Sometimes I wonder what that guys' problem is. This wouldn't have happened if he just treated you right. I mean, you're a great girl and he just…" Naruto's voice trailed of in the middle of his rant as he realized how intently Sakura was staring at him.

Terribly nervous, Naruto leapt to his feet. "I-I've probably said too much. I should just…"

"No!" Sakura yelled. Her voice was so loud at that moment it even surprised her. She immediately sat up in her bed and reached out for Naruto's hand just as he turned to leave. "You don't have to…"

Naruto paused as he felt her hand in his own. It was warm. Too warm actually. She really is pretty sick. He thought. At that moment he realized that he wasn't just holding her hand. There was a silky clothe between his hand and hers. He looked down and saw it. It was fairly small with white and pink stripes. He held it up closer and as he did so, his eyes widened as he realized what he was holding.

For a moment Sakura was caught up in her own thoughts. Why was I so desperate to have him stay by my side? She thought. She looked up to see Naruto looking at something in his hand. A moment later she knew instantly what he was holding. "Ahhhh!" She screamed as Naruto looked in shock at the pair of panties he was holding in his hand. "Noooo!"

"Eh!" Naruto screamed as he tossed them back at her. "I didn't see or feel anything!" He screamed as he raced through the door, closing it behind him.

Oh my God! Sakura thought as she tried to get out of bed to race behind Naruto. But as she got to her feet a wave of dizziness hit her and she felt weak. After taking only a few feet from her bed, Sakura dropped to her knees, coughing.

Naruto heard a heavy bang as he reached the the stairs and he could hear Sakura coughing. Oh no! He thought as he ran back into her room and found Sakura coughing uncontrollably as she remained on her knees. "Sakura-chan!" He yelled as he ran to her.

Naruto quickly scooped her into his arms. He noticed how light she was. She felt as if she'd lost weight. Has she been eating? He wondered as he brought her back to the bed.

By now Sakura was able to stop her coughing and clutched on to Naruto as she avoided his gaze. How embarrassing! She thought. He has to treat me like I'm some baby.

Naruto placed her on the bed and covered her legs with the blanket as she remained sitting up. "You okay?"

"Yeah." She said with a grateful smile. "I guess I'm not ready for those kinds of sudden movements. Plus I really haven't been eating much."

Naruto instantly thought of the soup that Ino was preparing downstairs. "Stay here. Ino's soup should be ready by now. I'll have her bring you some."

"Thanks Naruto." Sakura said with a smile.

Naruto nodded and left the room. He closed the door behind him and immediately made for the stairs. "Ino." Naruto said once he'd reached the bottom. "Is that soup of yours ready yet?" There was no answer. Naruto looked around. Sai wasn't in the living room. "Ino? Sai? Where are you guys?" Naruto walked into the kitchen. Empty. "Hey! Sai! Ino! Anyone?!"

Naruto quickly closed his eyes and remained perfectly still. A few minutes passed and when he opened his eyes, his sage chakra was active. It only took him a moment to sense Ino and Sai's chakra. He wasn't surprised when he realized they were several blocks away and slowly moving even further from him.

Meanwhile

Ino giggled joyously as she and Sai walked down the busy street. "Are you sure this was the right thing to do?" Sai asked. "I'm not sure Naruto is the best person to leave to take care of Sakura."

Ino hugged onto Sai's arm. "Trust me. What Sakura really needs is only something a guy like Naruto can give her. They'll both thank me when this is all over."

Sai sighed heavily as he looked at Ino dubiously. "If you say so."

"Anyway!" Ino yelled. "Now that we're alone, how's about you and I finish our date?!"

"This is not a date." Sai replied flatly.

"How about we go to a restaurant."

"This is not a date."

"Or you can take me to that rose garden. That's really romantic, right?"

"Stop it."

"Oh! I've always wanted a boy to take me to that new aquarium."

"Please stop talking."

"Or how about…"

"Ugh!"

Meanwhile

"I'm going to kill those two." Naruto said to himself as he deactivated his sage chakra. He took a deep breath and looked around. The pot with Ino's soup was sitting covered on the burner and there was a bowl of it sitting on the kitchen counter. Naruto walked up and saw that there was a small card leaning against the bowl. He picked it up and read what was written on it.

Hey Naruto,

Sai and I got called away on some really top secret type, high level ninja stuff. Sorry we didn't have time to tell you but we figured you would have everything under control. Here's the soup for Sakura. Make sure you give it to her and help her with everything that she needs and you BETTER NOT leave until she's finished eating.

Ino

PS. Don't be an idiot!

Naruto groaned. "High level ninja stuff? Top secret type, huh?" Naruto shook his head and wiped his forehead. "Dead. Both of them. Dead." Naruto put down the card and grabbed the soup and smelled it. "Wow. Smells pretty good."

He turned and headed back up the stairs and shortly he found himself back in Sakura's room. "Hey." He said as he entered.

"Hey." Sakura replied. She was still sitting up in her bed. "I thought you were going to send Ino up."

"Ino and Sai left."

"What? Why?"

Naruto shrugged. "Not sure. They left a note saying they had to go. But she finished the soup at least."

Sakura smiled gratefully as Naruto placed the bowl on her lap and handed her a spoon. "Thanks." She said as she took the spoon and dug in. As she took her first taste Sakura was shocked. "Wow! This is pretty good! You should try it!"

Naruto smiled. "I guess I should." He got to his feet and began to make his way to the door. "I'm going to have some myself. I'll be back in a little while." Naruto walked downstairs and prepared a bowl of soup for himself and sat down at the dining room table.

He took a deep breath to calm his nerves. Man what an odd situation. He thought. Now I'm here with her alone in her house? Geez! What the hell am I supposed to do now? Naruto ate a spoonful of the soup. Mmm, this is pretty good.

Twenty Minutes Later

Naruto knocked on Sakura's door. "Hey." He said as he poked his head in. "Everything okay?"

"Yes." Sakura said with a smile. Naruto came in and pulled up his seat. He saw Sakura's empty bowl on the nightstand. "Sorry about this. If I were stronger I wouldn't have you worrying over me."

"Hah!" Naruto laughed as he scratched the back of his head. "It's no problem at all. How do you feel?"

"Better I guess." Sakura answered.

"Are you sure?" Naruto asked with a cocked head. It was clear he didn't fully believe her. "You seem a little red in the face."

"No, no." Sakura replied as she waved him off. "I'm fine. I don't want to be a bother to you any more. You should go home."

Naruto stared at her with a blank expression. "You're lying."

"No Naruto. I'm telling you, I'm fine. So you can…" Sakura paused in mid sentence in surprise as she felt Naruto's warm hand on her forehead.

Naruto himself looked away as he touched her head so that she wouldn't see how much he was blushing. He was suddenly surprised at how warm she felt. "No way." He muttered to himself. He quickly turned to face her as he removed her hand. He wasn't sure, but she seemed a lot redder than she was a second ago. But he couldn't focus on that, now. "You're really hot Sakura-chan. Do you have a thermometer?"

"O-Over there." Sakura replied as she pointed to the drawer in her nightstand. Naruto quickly opened in and rooted around inside. This feels so strange for him to be taking me. She thought as she watched him.

"Ah!" Naruto exclaimed as he pulled the thermometer out. "Here" As he handed it to Sakura.

"What are you? An idiot?" Sakura responded. "If you're going to treat me like your patient then you should at least do it right." Sakura slowly opened her mouth.

"Eh!" Naruto exclaimed as he stared at her open mouth. "O-Okay." He said as he began to blush. Carefully he slipped the thermometer under her tongue and then the two sat in silence as they waited. A few moments passed before Naruto took the thermometer out of her mouth and looked at it. "Your temperature is over forty degrees!" He said. "How can you tell me you feel better?"

"Well…um…"

Naruto suddenly took her by the shoulder and gently had her lie down in the bed. "No excuses. You need to get better. Stay here. I'll be right back."

Ten minutes later and Naruto was again sitting next to her bed. Next to them was a small pan of cool water. He was ringing out a washcloth that he had dipped into the revitalizing liquid. "Feeling better my ass." He grumbled to himself as he placed the cloth on Sakura's forehead.

"I didn't have a fever before, you know?" Sakura said. "I was just sneezing and blowing my nose before."

"Bull." Naruto replied, annoyed. "This is your third day being sick. If you don't take care of yourself properly it won't go away easily. Damn, I could really use Ino's help right now."

Meanwhile

"Achoo!" Ino screamed as she sneezed. She was sitting across from Sai in a small seafood restaurant.

"Are you okay?" Sai asked as he ate.

"Yeah." I've been starting to sneeze a lot lately.

"Perhaps you're getting sick." Sai answered.

"Hmm, I wouldn't mind it if I did. You'd take care of me right?" Ino blushed as she leaned towards him and pouted.

"I'm not a doctor and I don't know that kind of medical ninjutsu." Sai answered flatly.

"But you could make me soup."

"I can't cook."

"Or get me a wet cloth."

"Nope."

"Wash me up?"

"Absolutely not."

"Take my temperature."

"No."

"Give me water."

"Stop talking, please."

"Or you could…"

"Ugh!"

A Short Time Later

"Thirty nine and a half degrees." Naruto said as he looked at the thermometer. "It's hardly gone down at all."

"It's alright." Sakura said. "If I keep lying down like this I should feel better soon. It's not that bad a flu."

Naruto sighed. "Yeah, but if you'd taken better care of yourself, you wouldn't be like this now, right? I guess it's true what they say that some of the greatest medical minds struggle when looking out for themselves."

Sakura chuckled. "Yeah. I guess. But you really shouldn't stay this long Naruto. I don't want you to catch my cold."

Naruto smiled. "Actually because of Kurama, I don't really catch colds. I've never had one actually. So there's no need to worry about that." Naruto paused and then leaned in close to Sakura which made her nervous. "Wait. Why are you trying to get rid of me? Are you trying to say it's uncomfortable for you to let me be here with you?"

"Ah! N-No! T-That's not it!" Sakura stuttered. "I-I just…umm…well…it's a little weird for me to be lying here with you taking care of me."

Naruto stared at her for a moment before bursting into laughter. "Yeah!" He said as he scratched the back of his head. "I guess the tables have turned all right! I wonder if I should hit you if you refuse to take your recuperation seriously?!"

"S-Shut up!" Sakura yelled back. "You deserved it each and every time! You're just too damned stubborn when it comes to making sure you get better!"

"Well, it looks like I'm not the only one!" Naruto said as he continued to laugh.

"Whatever." Sakura replied.

"Aw, don't be like that." Naruto said as he wiped a tear from his eye. "It's kind of cool to be in this position. It really feels like you're really relying on me for once."

Sakura looked at Naruto who smiled down on her. "I-I always rely on you." Naruto merely smiled and didn't say anything. "And it is nice…I guess…to have someone by my side and take care of me…I guess."

Naruto took a deep breath as he continued to smile down on her. To Sakura's surprise she felt his hand grab hers. Still he didn't say a word for a long time. Then finally, Naruto grabbed the bowl of water. "I'll be back. I need to get a clean washcloth."

Two Hours Later

"Damn!" Naruto yelled as he looked at the thermometer. "Your fever actually went back up?! It's forty point two degrees now."

"Some colds don't go away very easy." Sakura replied with a weak smile.

"Well, I guess we're going to just have to try harder to get this fever down." Naruto replied as he put a fresh, wet cloth on her forehead. "I'll keep changing the cloths every once and a while. So you just relax."

"Naruto, you don't have to keep doing this." Sakura said as she peaked at him from under the cloth. "The sun set quite some time ago. It's getting pretty late."

"Don't worry about that." Naruto answered as he moved the cloth back over her eyes and forehead. "I don't have any early morning training sessions. Besides, it's not like I'm going to take advantage of you while you sleep or anything." Naruto then leaned in close. "Unless you want me to."

Almost instantly, Sakura's hand reached up and grabbed him by the throat. She was gritting her teeth as she squeezed him like a vice. "WHAT WAS THAT?!"

"J-J-Joking!" Naruto stuttered as he flailed about and tried in vain to get free of her grip. "J-Just…joking…Sakua…chan! Please…l-let…go. C-Can't...!" Sakura released him and Naruto immediately coughed and took a deep, grateful breath. "Whew!" He said as he rubbed his sore neck. "Guess the flu isn't affecting your ape strength."

"Who's an ape?!" Sakura yelled as she sat up suddenly. The wet cloth sliding down her face to her lap.

Naruto merely smiled brightly at her. "I guess you do have some energy in you after all, right?"

Sakura blushed and fell back into her bed as Naruto placed the cloth back over her face. "Idiot." She mumbled.

Naruto breathed out audibly. "Get some rest." He said as he got to his feet. "I'm going to get some more of that soup. I'll be back."

"Naruto." Sakura said without moving. "Thanks."

"Don't thank me until you feel better. And you'd better by tomorrow or else I'm taking you to Granny Tsunade. Now get some rest."

Later

Naruto walked into Sakura's room where he found her fast asleep. He took his seat next to her and stared at her for a sort while. He rested his elbow on the arm of the chair and then placed his head on his fist. She really is pretty when she sleeps. Naruto thought. I've always wondered about that. Sasuke, you idiot.

A moment passed before he reached and took the cloth from her head and placed it back in the bowl. Did her fever drop yet? He touched her forehead. It felt cooler. Naruto slowly drew his hand away for a moment before pausing. Cautiously, he reached over and stroked her cheek with the back of his index finger. He moved lightly so as not to wake her. He couldn't help but smile at the feeling of her touch. Naruto finally pulled away and sat back in the chair. Not bad at all. He thought.

Meanwhile

"I love you Sasuke-kun." Sakura said to Sasuke who stood facing her. They were standing alone on an open grass field. A few white clouds hung in the blue sky overhead. "Please be with me. I want to be your girlfriend." Sasuke stared at her with an emotionless expression. But this wasn't Sasuke. Or at least, it wasn't Sasuke as he is now. This Sasuke looked like he did when he was twelve. And to her amazement so did she.

"Tch! How Annoying." Sasuke said as he turned and began to walk away.

"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura yelled as she tried to grab him. But he was already walking away. So fast. She thought as she gave chase and called for him over and over. But as she chased the further away he became. And as he walked, Sasuke grew. First into the boy that was Orochimaru's disciple, then the member of Akatsuki before finally becoming the man he was today.

As this game of cat and mouse continued, the sky grew darker, the winds kicked up. Thunder roared and lightning began to flash as a torrent of rain descended upon the valley, obscuring Sakura's vision. "S-Sas…uke…kun." She said as he vanished into the storm.

Sakura stood in the center of the thundering storm, lost and unsure of where to go. Fear began to grip her heart as she found herself alone. Alone. She thought when she suddenly felt someone's hand on her shoulder. She looked to see Naruto standing next to her with the most reassuring smile. Without a word he took her hand in his. The winds died down, the rain came to a sudden stop and the sun began to peek out of the dispersing clouds.

Wordlessly, Naruto nodded at Sakura to leave with him. Sakura smiled and squeezed his hand tight as she followed him without looking back.

A Moment Later

Sakura's eyes opened. She could see the ceiling of her room and there was the sound of birds chirping outside. The heaviness she'd felt in her chest was gone and her head felt clear. She took a deep, measured breath. The congestion she'd felt for the last few days was all but gone. Sakura turned her head to see Naruto sitting in the chair next to her. He was fast asleep and snored lightly as his mouth hung open slightly.

Sakura sat up in her bed as she looked at him. Moments passed before she got up the nerve to reach out to him. Slowly, she stroked his cheek with her fingers and smiled. Naruto grumbled and shifted causing her to pull back. His eyes fluttered opened as he sat up in his seat. "Sakura." He said while yawning.

"Morning." Sakura replied as she looked away and out of the window. She didn't want him to see her reddened face.

"How do you feel?" Naruto asked as he had her face him.

"I'm fine." She replied as he felt her forehead.

"Well, it looks like the fever's gone!" Naruto replied happily.

"Yeah, thanks for what you did yesterday."

"Ha! No problem!"

Sometime Later

"Are you sure about this?" Naruto asked as he stepped out of Sakura's home. "You're not fully recovered yet you know."

"Of course I am." Sakura replied as she stepped out before locking up. She was fully dressed with her hair neatly combed. "I've been cooped up inside long enough. I need to stretch my legs a bit."

Naruto smiled. "Fine. Well, I guess I'll see you around."

"What?!" Sakura yelled. "You're just going to leave? Just like that?"

"Well…yeah. I should head back home to wash up a bit."

"You don't have to." Sakura. replied. "For once you don't smell bad at all. And you brushed your teeth using an extra toothbrush we had. So you're fine right?"

Naruto looked down at how intensely Sakura stared at him. He smiled nervously. "Well, I guess."

"Good.' Sakura gushed. "Then you can join me." She began to walk away.

"Sure." Naruto said as he ran up to walk beside her. They pair walked side by side for a short while as Sakura took quick furtive glances at Naruto. She then slowly moved her hand over to his. At first, her hand merely bumped his a few times before slipping into it. Naruto felt her hand inside of his and looked at her with a look of disbelief and surprise.

"What?!" Sakura yelled as her face grew redder by the moment.

His look of shock slowly melted into a smile. "Nothing. Everything's…fine."

Sakura blushed. "G-Good."

A block away, Ino and Sai poked their heads out from around the corner. "Hmm," She said with a foxlike grin. "It looks like things progressed better than I planned." Ino then rubbed her hands together and smiled devilishly. "Now my plan can continue with her out of the way."

"Plan?" Sai asked.

"Yes." Ino then blushed and clasped her hands together as she gushed at the thought. "My plan to make both you and Sasuke-kun my boyfriends! We can then enjoy the beautiful forbidden threesome of love!" Ino fantasized of both boys in bed with her, and of Sasuke fluffing her pillow as Sai rubbed her feet. And of Sai cooking in nothing but an apron as she sat on Sasuke lap and he fed her grapes. Blood poured from her nose as she thought of her dream. "It'll be a wonderful life!" She screamed giddily.

Horrified, Sai turned and walked away. "I'm out."

"Sai! Wait!" Ino yelled as she frantically gave chase.

"Nope."

"Don't go!"

"Stop talking, you perv."

"But you're half of my dream!"

"Shut up."

Meanwhile

High above the streets, standing on the rooftop of the highest building in the neighborhood stood Sasuke. His arms were folded as his hair billowed in the gentle morning breeze. He stood still like a silent centurion as he watched Naruto and Sakura walking down the street hand in hand. As he wactched them walking under the early morning sun he had a small smile on his face. Without saying a word he looked to the right at the Hokage Monument that towered over the village in the far distance. A moment later, he vanished.

Meanwhile

Sakura and Naruto walked hand in hand down the street in silence. It was still early so they were the only ones out. "By the way, I have these two tickets for this concert tonight. Would you…um…like to go with me?" Sakura asked as they walked.

Naruto paused for a moment. "Yeah." Naruto finally said with a beaming smile that he felt would never fade. "That sounds like fun."

Sakura giggled at his reaction. "Yeah." Sakura replied with a smile. "A lot of fun."

Fin.