A/N: - SasuSaku. Could be considered a companion fic to He Needs Her. Sasuke's in denial. Tee hee. Give me your opinion. This is something that I suppose Sasuke thinks deep down. Believable? Not? Tell me in a review. :-)
Alright, alright. Don't push him. He'll admit it.
Maybe, just maybe, she's starting to grow on him.
Okay, okay. Definitely then.
Don't get him wrong, she's still annoying, and loud, though not as bad as Naruto (only Kiba could come that close). She still has no reason to be that bright and chipper, but…
Couldn't she have just stayed the irritating, useless little burden she used to be back in the days? Just someone to keep alive on missions so that Kakashi wouldn't freak, and Naruto wouldn't go totally berserk, and be rendered a worthless nuisance. It would have been that simple.
But no, she had to go and get all strong and reliable and crap. Since the Chuunin Exams, he had noted a change in her. She seemed to be resolute in her decision to become steadfast and superior to what she had been before. She wanted to be a bona fide protector.
It had been that way on most of their missions; with Tazuna in the Country of the Wave, with Shibuki in the Hidden Falls Village, and with Idate in the Tea Country. He would, in the midst of a battle, order her to protect their charge, mostly just to get rid of her and keep her preoccupied while he and Naruto took care of things.
But lately, she was taking her job seriously, and carrying it out more effectively. He remembers, on the fiery boat in the Tea Country with Idate and the ambushing Rain-nin, his amazement as she, in a feat of strength, lifted a thick wooden post clear off of the deck, and swung it round, effectively annihilating a good few water clones. He remembers, (a little too vividly for his own taste, mind you) his surprise and fear as she took a kunai in the shoulder for their ignorant charge.
No, he hadn't been worried, or anything like that.
Yes, she has come along way, from the weak, lovesick little girl, good for nothing but screaming, "Sasuke-kun!!!" at appropriate intervals. And so maybe…perhaps, he's, well…become a little cough fond of her.
But don't you go telling anyone, or anything. He's already had to bribe Naruto to keep that little 'Precious Comrades' speech to himself. If she only found out….the thought makes him cold sweat, and not a lot makes Uchiha Sasuke cold sweat, mind you.
So there. He's admitted it. She's smart, and is a good strategist as far as Team Seven goes. She's tough, and is improving everyday. She is reliable, someone he can count on to watch his back (not only in adoration). And that's all, really, that separates her from Ino and those other rabid fan-girls….
Well, maybe her hair is unbelievably glossy and vibrant.
And, perhaps her eyes shimmer like jade jewels.
And it's possible that her one thousand watt smile brightens up the gloomiest day.
Okay, okay, don't badger him. Definitely, then.