Disclaimer: Naruto and any associated characters do not belong to me.

Spoilers: None

Rating: PG

Pairings: Sakura+Sasuke, SasuNaru

Summary: Sakura's thinking and trying to hide.

~~

            Sakura hated being the analytical one.  It was nice to be depended on, to know that you would be needed, would always be turned to when the situation got complicated, because you could see through everything.  It was true, Sakura didn't have the fighting talent that Sasuke or Naruto possessed and so had to depend on those skills to keep herself on the same level as her teammates.  But Sakura hated being the analytical one.

            Because, being analytical meant you usually saw things others did not.  You could see patterns and holes in theories and actions; you were able to see past the noticeable and discover the truth.  And no matter how much you kept telling yourself you weren't seeing everything because you were too emotionally attached, you just couldn't deny the evidence.

            You could keep telling yourself that Naruto's yelling and bumbling were his true self and not an act.  But you knew that when he yelled, "Sasuke!  You bastard!", like that, that it wasn't from anger or hatred towards the other; it was from his own frustration and self-directed anger.  But his yelling also meant that he was with Sasuke, training to become stronger.

            Which meant being left further behind.

            "Idiot!  You are too obvious!  Try and hide your actions and stop going for a straight hit.  Quit being so stupid!" And you knew that Sasuke's comments weren't from contempt like they had once been.  They were now from the same frustration Naruto had; frustration at not improving, at forgetting simple things and…

            "Sakura.  Pay attention."

            "A-ah.  Yeah." And after so long, you knew why Kakashi-sensei always had Naruto and Sasuke train together, why he insisted on letting them figure things out for themselves.

            Because together, Sasuke and Naruto were nearly unbeatable.  While you could possibly help at the beginning of a fight, discovering the trick the enemy was using…it was Sasuke and Naruto that overcame it, defeating the enemy.  Because they pushed each other to become better, stronger.  They had a bond that you couldn't begin to partake of. 

            And that seclusion hurt more than anything else.

            "All right.  We're done for today."

            "Mmm…Kakashi-sensei?" So you keep looking for anything that will tell you you're wrong; something that will completely reverse everything that you've been trying to hide from yourself.

            "What is it, Sakura?"

            But you hate yourself for asking because you know that you won't find anything.  That what he'll tell you will only further cement the conclusion that you've come up with, and pushed away, time and time again.  And you can't even look him in the eyes, knowing that in them you'll see something that you can't hide from.

            "Well…Sasuke-kun and Naruto…what do you think of them?"

            "Hmmm?  Them?  They're improving at a quick pace.  They work much better together than ever before." Even though he is purposefully vague, you can't help but grasp onto that small bit of hope. "Well, at least they haven't killed each other yet."

            "Umm…yeah." But you still can't convince yourself.

            "Don't worry, Sakura.  They won't leave you behind." And it was frustrating how he always knew more than he let on; you were quite sure he did it on purpose, too. "Why don't you go get them.  I'm sure Naruto won't want to miss dinner."

            "Sure."

            Being the analytical one sucked.  There just wasn't another way to put it.  While other girls were still lost in their fantasies and daydreams, wondering if there was ever a chance, you knew the truth.  Not only because you saw them every day, but because you were able to see past their facades.

            "Sasuke-kun?  Naruto?"

            You were able to see past their rivalry and hatred of each other and see what their intense glares really meant.

            "What is it?"

            Those words, now directed at you, were no longer able to set your heart pounding because they merely acknowledged your presence, nothing more than that.  And you notice that his gaze is still on Naruto, never moving for a moment.

            "Kakashi-sensei says we're done for the day."

            "Ah.  Just give us a little longer."

            You know you're nothing more than an interruption, because they won't stop until they want to.  They'll train until neither can stand, then finally come back supporting one another, arms wrapped around each other's shoulders and waists.  That's something you can't ignore, no matter how hard you try because it's what you've imagined happening to yourself many times; it's exactly how you imagined it happening, down to the slight tightening of his fingers around your waist.

            Except it's not you that he's holding, and you want nothing more than to deny what your mind keeps telling you.  But you can't, and you hate yourself for it.

            So you say things and do things to get their attention, to make sure that they don't leave you behind.

            "You'll miss dinner if you don't come now." And you can't help but feel satisfied when Naruto proves you haven't been forgotten.

            "Nooo!!  Sasuke!  We're stopping now.  I'm not missing dinner this time."

            "It was your own fault last time, idiot.  Don't blame me for your mistakes."

            It's at times like these that you can allow yourself to forget; when they bicker so violently, you can almost imagine that everything you've seen, heard and concluded isn't the truth.

            "Don't call me that!  You bastard!"

            "What?  Idiot?  Then stop being one."

            You allow yourself to slip back into a familiarity of actions long since forgotten, their meanings changing some obscure time back.  And as you walk back with them, you can't help but let yourself glance at him with hopes that he'll be looking at you even if it's for a moment. 

            "Ahh!  It was great, Sakura-chan.  Sasuke fell for a simple trick…" But as he talks, you're able to notice how Sasuke's eyes watch him more closely.  There's also something in that gaze that sends shivers down your spine.  Something that you wish was directed towards you.  So you look away, more annoyed than before at the one-time freak in front of you.

            "Naruto!  Don't be so annoying!"

            "I was just distracted.  I won't fall for the same thing again."

            "Heh.  You're just mad that…gah!"

            As he falls, you feel bad that you rejoice from his pain, but you can't help it.  Why should he get everything you wanted? and worked for?  How could someone like him…

            "Watch it!"

            "Sasuke."

            But he's always there to catch Naruto; always there for Naruto.  It's always Naruto and never you.  You tell yourself it's because you're hardly ever in the sort of danger Naruto is and that if you ever were, he would be there for you too.  It's simply the fact that Naruto gets in so much trouble that…

            "Naruto!  Would you quit being a nuisance?" As they finally stop looking at each other, the moment broken by your harsh insult, you know that that's not the truth.  No matter what happens, Sasuke will always be there for Naruto. "Geez…can we just make it back to camp without you trying to kill yourself?"

            Your words are harsh and bitter, but you can't help it.  No matter how much you've come to respect him, he took everything you ever worked for away.  Without even trying, or thinking, he smashed your hopes and dreams.  So you can't help but feel resentful. 

            "Sakura-chan?"

            Even if he does deserve it more than you.

            It's because you can't accept it that you push it away and ignore it.  Because you don't want to give up the dream you've held on to for so long.  You don't want to have to grow up and realize how foolish you were.  You're just not ready to face reality.

            "Back so soon?  Mmm…and it was just getting interesting."

            But you're analytical.  And when the whole team is together, you can't help but watch the others and try to figure them out.  So you notice how Kakashi-sensei, even though he has that perverted book of his up, isn't really reading it but watching each of you.  Just as you watch him.  More than likely, his thoughts are different than yours; his would be more focused on individual as well as team growth.  You're just interested in figuring out your teammates on a much more personal level.

            Well, maybe not all of them.  But because you've spent so much time thinking about Sasuke, you've inevitably had to think about Naruto.  It was obvious from the beginning they both played an important part in each other's lives – it was just a question of how important.  And as you've watched him more and more, trying to figure out how to gain his acknowledgement, you've watched Naruto more and more as well.  Because they're always together.

            "Hey, hey!  Where's dinner?"

            Because they're always very close together.  And you don't like noticing how they both lean against each other more than the tree; you don't like noticing how their knees are pressed so close together or how Sasuke's arm is resting over Naruto's.  But you can attribute that to how close they're sitting.  That it's always just an accident and it doesn't mean a thing that they never correct it.

            "Can't you wait?"

            "I'm hungry!  Why should I be forced to wait?"

            The way their fingers slipped together, just barely hooking around each other…their training had simply worn them out.

            "Ow!  What was that for, asshole!"

            "Stop being a nuisance."

            Even that act of violence now appears as something different.  It doesn't seem as harsh as it used to be and you know this because Naruto didn't use both hands to cover his head.  Just one.

            The one not touching Sasuke's.

            "Dinner?  Hmm…well, we need some water first.  Sa-"

            "I'll go."

            "Eh?  Sasuke-kun?"

            Part of you can still believe that he volunteers out of generosity.  As he stands, the grip he has on Naruto's leg says differently.  Usually, you could push off such small things claiming that Sasuke was simply using Naruto to stand.  Yet in the back of your mind, you recognize that possessive grip as one you wish he would use on you; so you can't dismiss his touch so easily.  Even though it isn't given to you.

            "I-I'll come with you."

            It's a vain hope, that this time he'll let you come.  That this time, out of all the others, Naruto won't join him.

            "No, that's okay.  Naruto, come on."

            Or that this time, you won't have to see.  You know you could just look away, but yet you're still looking for that one piece of evidence that contradicts everything you've gathered so far.  You watch Sasuke's eyes, hoping that that strange, dark look to them will disappear when he watches Naruto.  Or maybe that Naruto will blow Sasuke off, becoming the obnoxious brat he was once.

            "Huh?  What are you talking about?"

            "Let's go, Naruto.  We need water for dinner.  Unless you don't want to eat."

            "Huh?  Hey!  Sasuke, wait up!" But nothing ever happens the way you want it to.

            So, you do what you do best.  Go back over everything you can remember, every piece of evidence that you can call to mind, and search through it once more.  You look for something that you missed before or look and see if you have gotten the pattern wrong and are just blowing things out of proportion.  Like you have every other time they've gone to get water.  Or firewood.  Or just go for a walk – together.

            The worst thing about going back over all the memories, the evidence, is that you wish you could manipulate it.  Change how you remember it so that it's you he's looking at now and not Naruto; just as long as he's not looking at Naruto.  That he never touched Naruto, even held Naruto, the way you wished he would touch, or hold, you.  But you can't change anything because that would go against who you are and how you work.

            Because, if you changed something now, what's not to stop you from changing it in the future?  What happens if you get so used to changing stuff that isn't important, that you end up changing things that are?  What happens if your greed right now ends up killing someone later?

            And because of those worries, you can't change anything or deny it either.

            "Oh!  They forgot the water containers."

            "So they did.  Well, Sakura, you can go to save time."

            "Yes, Kakashi-sensei."

            The work isn't what bothers you.  It never is – because if you're doing something, no matter how small, you feel needed.  Like you're not being left behind.  But at the same time, you hate doing the work.  It makes you feel like you aren't good enough for anything else as well as –

            No, you don't even want to think about that.  Because, you still don't have proof that it's true, even if the rational part of you is screaming at you to just accept it.  You don't want to; you don't have to either.

            The work also helps you keep your mind off of –

            "Sa-Sasuke!"

            "Quiet or they'll hear us, you total moron."

            It keeps your mind off –

            "Unn…like it matters?  They can't hear us out HERE!"

            You concentrate on the water before you, saying that you're just hearing things…that the running water is ruining your hearing and you're just misinterpreting everything.

            "They probably alre-ady – know!  You're a HORrible li-i-iAR!"

            "Like you're any…mph…better?"

            Because the work…you hate the work.  And there's no denying that who you're hearing is Sasuke-kun and Naruto.

            "A-aa-ahh!!  Sasuke!"

            "Nnn…Idiot."

            There's no way to deny what you hear, especially first hand.  And what you hear –

            "Naruto…"

            So you do the only thing left you can do.  You run.  You run away from the truth.  You run away from any evidence.  You run away until you can't breathe.

            "Sakura?  Where are…"

            You ignore everything and for the moment…you run.

~~

AN: Ugh…my first attempt at Naruto fic and it had to be a second POV from Sakura. Never again.  Not too much to say really.  I don't know where the idea came from, but it decided itself that it was to be in second person and nothing else.  I hope I didn't do too poorly.  Please let me know what you think ^^