Sakura sighed dejectedly as her emerald orbs stared at the floor for what seemed like hours. But in reality it was only a few minutes. She placed the top of her palm under her chin as thoughts of her blonde-haired teammate ran through her mind. He was gone for a year and a half so far and she missed him more than he could ever imagine. She couldn't figure out why he just left suddenly like that and she always opted to give him a piece of her mind for leaving her worried for a year and a half straight, but now at this point she just wanted her best friend to come home. She missed his optimism, his ramen obsession, his dorky sense of humor, she even missed how perverted he could be at times. She blushed at the thought.
She recalled the events in her mind every day to try to figure out what caused him to leave her, especially now when she needed him the most. She brought her knees to her chest, her arms wrapping around them as the memory flooded her thoughts.
Sakura sat patiently in the room that Naruto and Sasuke was resting in. She found herself constantly stealing glances at Naruto, her heart clenching in pain with every look. He was missing a arm, his eye was swollen, and she couldn't even begin to imagine what other internal injuries he may have suffered…' for the sake of keeping that stupid promise to her.' She thought to herself as her eyes scrunched in sadness. He put everything on the line for her, including his own life.
'Thank you, Naruto.' Sakura thought to herself, it wasn't even about him bringing back Sasuke, it was about him always being there for her no matter what. Him always keeping her happy.
Suddenly, Sakura gasped as she felt Sasuke's hand completely cover hers. She blushed at the touch as she now focused her emerald eyes into his dark ones.
"Sa-Sasuke-Kun?" Sakura just barely stuttered out as she felt him squeeze her hand a little tighter. However she noted that while his touch did make her blush, the butterflies that she expected to be in her stomach were non-existent much to her surprise.
"Sakura…" Sasuke trailed off as now sat up in the bed, his eyes never leaving her surprised emeralds.
"Wha-what is it?" Sakura asked, now completely flustered at the way Sasuke was staring into her soul.
"I'm sorry…" He trailed off once again.
Sakura could barely find her voice, her mind was completely blank at what was going on right now. She didn't even realize that Sasuke was in closer proximity to her now. "For-for what?" Sakura questioned, her blush deepening a shade as she now realized how close Sasuke was.
"For everything I've put you through." Sasuke admitted causing Sakura's eyes to widen slightly in shock.
Sakura was now at a loss for words, 'the man of her dreams' was now apologizing to her and she mentally cursed herself for not being able to capitalize on the opportunity. She chose to stay quiet, not wanting to mess the moment up. Luckily for her, Sasuke wasn't finished talking.
He now placed his fingers under her chin, and she gasped once again when she saw something from him that she didn't think she would ever see in a million years. A genuine smile.
"I want to atone for all of my sins, but most of all I would like to make everything up to you."
"How-how do you plan on doing that?" Sakura barely whispered out, still trying to find her voice.
Sasuke now grabbed both of Sakura's hands and faced her directly causing Sakura to avert her eyes to side out of uncharacteristic shyness.
"Let's go on a date." Sasuke simply offered, causing Sakura's eyes to widen once again as she now looked into his eyes.
"Wha-what?" Sakura responded in complete shock, her lips slightly parted and her blush deepening even more at his words. She didn't know what brought this about all of a sudden. He literally just casted her in a genjutsu after telling her that he would never like her in that way, yet here he was asking her out.
Sasuke smiled, he understood her confusion completely. "I said would you like to go on a date with me?" Sasuke now rephrasing his statement into a question.
Sakura's mouth opened and closed a few times, not knowing how to answer Sasuke much to her own surprise. She then gasped once more as her eyes glanced on the blonde knucklehead and she could see that he was looking to her eyes with a bittersweet smile on his face.
She remembered that smile, that was the same exact smile he gave to her when he made the Promise of a Lifetime to her. She found her thoughts interrupted when he nodded to her. He told her to say yes.
Sakura looked at Naruto for a few more seconds, complete worry in her eyes for him before looking back at Sasuke and finally deciding. "Yes." Tears now flowing down her eyes as she hugged Sasuke. But, Sasuke had nothing to do with her crying, as much as Naruto did.
Much to Sakura's chagrin, she said yes. Not more than a few more days later, Sakura realized that any relationship besides friendship would ever work out between her and Sasuke. She realized she didn't love him like that, and as she suspected, Sasuke was still as cold hearted as ever. The date he asked her on wasn't genuine, but rather just a promise he made to a friend. Surprisingly, it didn't even hurt when he revealed that information to her.
She tried to connect the dots. Maybe he left because of the decision she made that day. Maybe he couldn't bear to see them together. But that theory always went out the window when she remembered that Naruto only had a crush on her… and he was 13 for Kami's sakes. She suspected that crush went away when he stopped asking her on dates. The mere thought hurt her.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
Sakura ignored the knocking, choosing to just continue wallowing in her sadness. Until the knocking got louder.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
"Forehead! I know you're in there!" Ino screamed from the other side of the door, causing Sakura to release a small smile at her best friend.
Sakura and Ino had gotten a lot closer over the year and a half that Naruto was gone. She was always there to make sure Sakura was alright. She always made sure to let Sakura know that if Naruto left, it must have been for a very good reason, a reason that would never have anything to do with him wanting to be away from her. However, this time, Ino had the ultimate cheer-up pill up her sleeves.
Sakura slowly got up and made her way to the door, slowly opening it just to get a rise out of Ino. She knew Ino was almost as impatient as Naruto. Sakura smiled at the thought as she finally opened the door fully. As she expected, Ino was already shooting her a death glare.
Sakura simply laughed as Ino walked in past her.
"You think that's funny forehead?" Ino said as she made her way to the couch Sakura was sitting on previously, her eyes still on Sakura.
"Yes, Ino-Pig. That's why I'm laughing." Sakura replied in a tone that suggested that Ino should have known that already.
"I'm glad that my impatience amuses you…" Ino huffed as she placed her bag on the couch.
Sakura sat down next to Ino, still giggling as she gently pulled Ino's cheek. "I'm sorry pig. I'm only joking around with you." Sakura apologized in between giggles.
"I don't need your apology forehead, because somehow after today, I have a feeling I'll be having the last laugh." Ino replied almost evilly, causing Sakura to quirk an eyebrow at her.
"What are you talking about?"
Ino offered Sakura an almost diabolical looking smile causing Sakura to sweatdrop at how Ino was now laughing. "I found something that will remove all worry from your heart and will make you come to terms with your feelings for Naruto."
Sakura was creeped out at what it might have been. But Ino's second statement caused Sakura to blush. "I'm a little afraid to know what it might be. And for the millionth time, I don't have feelings for Naruto!"
Ino squinted her eyes at her friend, knowing she was lying through her teeth. "So you didn't break up with Sasuke with Naruto being the main reason?"
Sakura's eyes widened. How did Ino know that? But Sakura decided to quell the situation quickly. "First of all pig, I broke up with Sasuke because he didn't change. He was still as cold as ever. Second of all, he told me that him asking me out was only as part of a promise he made with someone. And third of all, it's none of your business!"
Ino's mind however was stuck on the second part. "Sasuke only went out with you over a promise?"
"Yes, that's what he told me. Whatever the hell that means."
Ino suddenly squealed in happiness, causing Sakura to flinch and shoot her a death glare as she covered her ears. "Never. Do. That. Again." Sakura growled through gritted teeth.
"Don't you get it Sakura?" Ino questioned, her giddiness seeping through every word.
Ino continued smiling at the pink-haired kunoichi. "It's so obvious that Naruto was behind it!" Ino revelated.
"Huh?" Sakura dumbly responded.
Ino rolled her eyes at Sakura's response. "Think for a second, forehead. Sasuke claimed that he did it only as a promise to someone, right?"
"…right…" Sakura said, wondering where Ino was really going with this.
"So it's obvious that Naruto made a deal with Sasuke, and his end of the deal was to go out with you…" Ino explained, but could see Sakura was still trying to wrap her head around what Ino was trying to explain, causing Ino to sweatdrop.
'I know that you become like the one you love, but I didn't know a drop in I.Q. points was included.' Ino mused before continuing her explanation.
"So in other words, Naruto loves you so much that he was willing to do whatever it took for your happiness, even having Sasuke ask you out, regardless of him getting hurt in the process."
Sakura blushed at the thought of Naruto loving her, but she also thought Ino was crazy for her theory. "You remember when you told to remind you anytime you started talking crazy again?"
"Yeahhh?" Ino replied, wondering what Sakura was getting at.
"You're doing it again."
"Trust me forehead, he did it all for you, nothing on the planet means more to him than you." Ino stated with a smile as she noticed Sakura's blush deepening a shade.
Sakura shifted her eyes to the side to avoid Ino's lecherous gaze. She hated when Ino made her feel this way about Naruto. "You're crazy Ino-Pig. If he loves me like you claim, why would he try to put me in the arms of another man?"
Ino put her arms around Sakura's shoulder. "Forehead, forehead, forehead. You have a lot to learn about love." Ever since she made it official with Shikamaru, she learned a few things, so she considered herself as somewhat of an expert in all things love. "When you love someone, their happiness comes first. That's why Naruto did what he did, his own feelings mattered very little compared to yours in his eyes. His pain meant nothing to him as long as he could see you smile."
Sakura's eyes widened at Ino's explanation. Maybe it was true, did Naruto truly love her like Ino claimed? If so, why didn't he just tell her? Even unbeknownst to her currently, Naruto was the true source of her happiness. "Wait a minute… how do you know all of this? The way you said it was as if you…"
Ino pointed her fingers to her temple, an almost impish grin on her face. "Mindreader, hello?"
Sakura shot her an appalled glare. "Don't tell me you've been reading Naruto's mind, pig…" Sakura felt angry at the notion.
Ignoring the complete killer intent Sakura was giving off, Ino continued. "Yup, forehead. I did." Ino then grinned lecherously at Sakura. "Besides, it seems that Mr. Uzumaki isn't so wholesome. He thinks about you in all kinds of ways forehead, even…"
Sakura cut her off by placing her hands over ears, already knowing where Ino was going with it. But, she couldn't stop the blush from forming on her cheeks at the fact that Naruto thinks about her in this way. Sakura decided to quickly change the subject however, believing that Ino was most likely messing with her again as always. "What is this thing you claimed will cheer me up, you perverted pig?"
Ino grinned at Sakura, mentally thanking her for reminding her. Ino rummaged through her bag and pulled out a book. Sakura quirked an eyebrow at what Ino took out of her bag. "Here it is Sakura, the permanent solution to your problems."
"A book?" Sakura questioned in complete disbelief.
"It's not just any book forehead." Ino smiled mischievously at the pink-haired kunoichi. "It's NARUTO'S journal, and it's about you."
Sakura's eyes widened slightly. 'He has a journal about me?' Sakura then shook her head wondering how exactly Ino got the journal in the first place. Sakura got up and tried to snatch it from Ino, but Ino being a few inches taller was able to keep it out of reach of Sakura.
"Relax Sakura, we were only going to read a few pages and put it back." Ino tried to reason.
"No, I won't allow you to invade Naruto's privacy." Sakura said in seriousness as she tried to snatch it from Ino once more.
"The only ones that will know what's in this journal is you, me, and Naruto. And you will thank me later for this." Ino assured, but Sakura wasn't buying it.
"No pig, Naruto is my best friend, I wouldn't dare to invade his privacy, and I won't allow you to get the opportunity to spread Naruto's secrets all over the village." Sakura crossed her arms in defiance. "How did you get it anyways?" Sakura then inwardly gasped at the thought of Ino breaking into Naruto's apartment.
"Ino-piiggg if I find out that you broke into Naruto's apartment…" Sakura growled out causing Ino to raise her hands defensively.
"No, no Sakura. It's nothing like that." Ino chuckled nervously. "I kind of snatched it the day that he left. But I forgot about it until now."
"That doesn't make it any better. If Naruto wrote it in a journal, then it's obvious that he didn't want anybody to know about it. Especially nosey pigs like you." Sakura said as she poked Ino's nose, causing Ino to roll her eyes.
"Sakura, he literally has your name on the front of the book, he's just BEGGING you to read it." Ino tried to convince her. "Wouldn't you like to see what he wrote about you?"
Sakura continued to keep her arms folded in defiance, but she was interested in knowing what Naruto had to say about her. "Okay, just the first page, but that's it!" Sakura commanded.
Ino nodded her head in approval, a big smile on her face at Sakura agreeing. Sakura on the other hand felt butterflies in her stomach in what could be revealed. She sat down next to Ino as Ino opened the book to the first page.
Sakura giggled at the very first entry before reading it. She could tell Naruto had this journal for a long time as the very first entry was written in crayon. Ino started to read it to Sakura and Sakura let out a nervous sigh that she didn't know she was holding in.
Journal Entry #1
So, the man from the ramen stand gave me ramen for free today. He's always so awesome to me. But the mean people in the village threw rocks at me again and it hurt so much but I refused to cry. When I started walking to the academy, these kids from from my class beat me up and stole my boobag. It was okay, when I became the Hokage one day, they would all be sorry. When I made it to my class; Iruka-Sensei wasn't there yet, so I decided to stand up to the boys who beat me up so I could get my bookbag back, but they ended up beating me up again, 5 on 1 really sucked! Then they started to kick me in the belly. It hurt so much but I refused to let them hear me scream in pain. Then just as I was about to pass out, I heard my angel's voice. She told them to leave me alone and they all listened to her. I opened my eyes to see her standing over me with her hand extended out to help me up. She was so beautiful. She was perfect. Her smile, her green eyes, her pink hair. When she helped me up, I thanked her. But my stomach also felt weird. I didn't know why, but around her I felt different. My cheeks were hot, it almost felt like little spiders were running around in my stomach. I asked her what her name was after telling her mine. She told me it was Sakura. Beautiful name for a beautiful girl I guess. One of her friends came over and grabbed Sakura-Chan away. I overheard Sakura-Chan calling her Ino. Sakura-Chan was so beautiful, but Ino was so ugly. I couldn't understand how that worked…
"That son of a bitch." Ino growled. "And to think that I'm trying to help him right now.
Sakura giggled and patted Ino's back as Ino continued to finish the last of the first entry.
I wanted to leave this stupid village before, but now I changed my mind. As long as I get to be close to such an beautiful angel, taking a few hits from some rocks and getting beaten up would be worth seeing that beautiful smile every day. I made a promise to myself to get her to feel the same for me that I was feeling about her right now. When I become the Hokage, I want her by my side. Not only was Sakura-Chan beautiful, but she was also a total babe!
Ino finished the first entry and looked at Sakura, trying to gauge her reaction. She could tell she was thought after the Ino finished. "Awww, that was kind of sweet wasn't it Sakura?"
Sakura simply nodded her head. "Yes, it was."
"Do you want to read some more?"
Sakura thought about it, yes she would be invading Naruto's privacy if she continued, but it was addressed to her after all. Maybe he wouldn't mind. And besides, maybe after reading all of this, she would be able to come to terms with her love for Naruto. Sakura looked directly in Ino's eyes as she made her decision.