Little Piece of Heaven
Slamming her pencil down upon her notebook, Sakura leaned back to stretch against her chair. She was enduring another one of her late-night cram sessions and it already felt like her brain would self-destruct from knowledge overload. Tsunade told her to study medicine books on a regular basis, a very time-consuming chore. But of course, she was a stubborn little trooper, and no textbook was too big for her to absorb.
She rubbed the back of her neck and glanced at the clock, sighing when she realized it was almost midnight. For three days straight Sakura had spent most of her time studying in her apartment. With Tsunade bombarded with work and no missions with her name on it, Sakura couldn't think of anything else to do but crack open her textbooks.
Even work at the hospital was slow; there seemed to be an awful lot of health going around. Not that she was complaining, but with Sasuke no longer needing a nurse, there were times when she just felt… well, useless. Naruto and Ino were both out on missions, and Sasuke was getting retrained and disciplined by Kakashi—a part of the rehabilitation progress ordered by Tsunade. The idea of reinstating Team 7 was being considered, and with the end of Sasuke's probation just days away, the Hokage asked for him to be reexamined by his former instructor and to go through several meetings with the village council. If Tsunade and the council were both convinced of Sasuke's redemption, they would restore his title as a shinobi of Konoha, and the reformation of Team 7 would follow shortly after.
Yawning, Sakura was about to pull down another book from the massive pile infront of her when she heard a knock at the front door. She frowned before standing up to answer it. If it was Naruto asking to rummage through her fridge for a midnight snack again, she'd kick him in the teeth. But as she unlocked the door, she reminded herself that the blonde garbage disposal was out on a mission…
Leaning against the doorframe with his hands in his pockets, Sasuke regarded her passively as she gawked at him in surprise. In her memory, this was probably the first time he had taken the effort to visit her. He didn't even visit her in the hospital after Gaara attacked her so many years back (painfully enough, she had gotten attacked because she was protecting him, but that was beside the point). There was not a time she could pinpoint where Sasuke had sought her out; even if he had to relay a message, he would simply wait until she came to him. After all, she always did.
So that's why she stood there, suitably flabbergasted at the Uchiha on her front step. Did he… get lost…?
"Hey," he said simply.
She waited for him to add something along the lines of 'I need to use your bathroom.' When he didn't elaborate, she tilted her head curiously at him.
"Sasuke, what are—I mean, it's late, did something happen…?"
"I saw your light on, so…" His obsidian eyes narrowed slightly, the stoic expression still illegible as he spoke. "You eaten yet?"
She searched the back of her mind. For some reason, she couldn't remember eating a damn thing for an unhealthy amount of hours. "Uh, no," she answered, checking the clock behind her. "Not yet."
He gave a slight nod of his head in the direction of the market. "Let's go," he ordered. "Some places are still open."
She blinked at him in puzzlement. "What, now? But, I have so much studying to do and—"
Onyx eyes rolled in response. "Do I have to drag you?" Though his gaze was a mix of annoyance and boredom, Sasuke appeared a tad... insulted. He wasn't exactly used to the idea of people refusing him. But being bossed around was not something Sakura enjoyed either. She folded her arms defiantly. "You might. I'm not hungry."
No sooner had she snapped her retort then a telltale rumble was heard from the pit of her empty stomach. Stricken with embarrassment, she giggled and rubbed the back of her neck nervously.
He smirked. "You're not a good liar either."
"…And for the lady?"
Sakura stared at the menu indecisively, "Uhhmmm…" She had never been to this particular restaurant before and the selection was massive, not to mention expensive. As hungry as she was, she wasn't in the mood to dish out gobs of cash for something she had never even tried before.
After watching Sakura with some amusement, Sasuke took the menu from her hands and handed it to their waiter. "Get her the same."
The man nodded and jotted something on a notepad. "Thank you, Uchiha-san."
When they were left alone, she smirked at Sasuke's showcase superiority and drank from her teacup. "Uchiha-san," she mimicked. "You didn't have to order for me."
"You were taking forever," he commented dryly. "I would've starved to death."
Sasuke had dragged her to one of the more high-end restaurants in Konoha. Conveniently enough, only the more expensive places were open late at night, making Sakura cringe… Sasuke, however, didn't seem to mind at all. Being the sole-survivor of the Uchiha clan, he had already inherited everything; money was just not an issue while living in Konoha. It was then that Sakura vaguely wondered when Sasuke planned to resurrect the Uchiha clan. Along with killing his brother, it was another goal he had set for himself. She wouldn't pry into his social life, but for the sake of that particular goal, it'd be a good idea for him to get a girlfriend sometime soon. It was just unfortunate that given the amount of fan girls around, Sasuke still didn't seem interested in any of them.
Speak of the devil. A young brown-haired girl Sakura didn't recognize burst into the restaurant and charged at their table. Ignoring Sakura, she instantly flung her arms around Sasuke's neck and laughed somewhat mechanically at having found the man of her dreams.
"Sasuke-kun!" she squealed. "I was walking by and here you are! It's fate!"
With his features twisting in annoyance, Sasuke cringed in the young woman's death-grip and calmly tried to pry her off. Enjoying the show, Sakura giggled and made light of his disgust. "Don't let me interrupt."
As if just noticing Sakura was there, the brown-haired girl gasped and looked pleadingly into Sasuke's eyes. "How could you be out with another girl, Sasuke-kun? What's going on? I've been begging you to have dinner with me! She's not your girlfriend, is she?"
Sakura choked on her water at the sheer gravity of the word. The irony being that at this girl's age she would've given anything to share a dinner table with Sasuke. And now that they finally were, she hadn't even realized the possible implications of it until pointed out by someone else. Obviously they were just friends having dinner, but how odd of her to completely disregard her childhood dream come true.
"Get. OFF." Sasuke seethed, as he pried apart the fan girl's grip. His eyes focused on Sakura as she continued to cough. "You alright?"
Sakura coughed into her napkin and waved off his concern.
Giggling, the other girl quickly reattached herself around the distracted Uchiha's neck. "Isn't he hot when he's hiding his true feelings?" she asked Sakura, ignoring the rosette haired girl's choking. "Hey if you don't mind, do you think you could leave us alone for the night?"
Wow, Sakura thought, as she cleared her throat finally. Fan girls sure came with a lot more balls these days. Thinking it probably wasn't the best idea to argue with such an emotionally unstable girl, Sakura decided not to push any of the wrong buttons. "Uh… sure? I mean, if you want me to. Sasuke?"
"Enough," Sasuke suddenly snarled. "You," he turned to the brunette. "Leave."
Surprised by the deadly tone of his voice, the girl jumped away from the now visibly pissed-off Uchiha. "But S-Sasuke-kun!" she whined.
"Go find something better to do," he snapped.
Defeated, albeit somewhat turned on by his sexy asshole demeanor, the fan girl laughed it off and proceeded to leave the restaurant at her lover-boy's request. "You're so cute when you're grumpy, Sasuke-kun!" she gushed over her shoulder. "Okay, I'll see you later!"
"Not if I can help it…" Sasuke muttered tiredly.
Sakura shook her head in disapproval. "You shouldn't be so harsh."
"Why do you care?"
"Well…" she began thoughtfully. "She kinda reminds me of me."
Given the odd look on Sasuke's face, Sakura quickly realized she had brought up an extremely awkward subject. Before she could retract however, the waiter finally came with their food.
After placing the two dishes infront of them, the older man began to refill their glasses, completely unaware of the uncomfortable silence that had taken over due to his presence. Once the waiter had left, Sakura shook off the hazardous aura around them and changed the subject. "So how's the disciplinary training with Kakashi-sensei?"
"It is what it is, I guess."
"Training a lot?"
"Fifty laps to start and another fifty to end per day. We have a great time," he told her sarcastically.
"Yikes…" she whispered. "I'm… I'm really sorry…" All of a sudden she felt incredibly guilty. Sasuke was going through a painfully slow process in order to help grant her and Naruto's wish of getting their team back. Not only did he spend the first month in complete lockdown, now they were training him non-stop as another form of discipline.
His eyebrows scrunched slightly in confusion. "For what?"
"Naruto and I wanted so much for Team 7 to get back together. I never imagined they would make you go through all this…"
"I'm not complaining, Sakura." And with that said, he dismissed the simple issue and began eating his food. Sakura smiled softly; feeling pleasantly surprised by his answer.
"Did you know Naruto's coming back in a few days?"
"Is that an admittance of how much you need him?" Sakura teased.
"Tch. Like a kunai to the head."
"Hey, you know I can spar with you!" she offered. "Why don't we spar together?"
Sasuke seemed to contemplate this with an inward frown. "No."
She huffed, clearly insulted. "Why the hell not?"
"Because I don't hold back."
"Well," she began with some bitterness. "I don't expect you to. Do you think I'm too weak to spar with?"
"I never said that."
"Then why won't you spar with me?"
"You don't get it," he berated meaningfully. "I don't hold back."
Sakura blinked. Confused. "Right. So you don't hold back, but you don't think I'm too weak to fight you. What's the problem?"
"What do you think? I don't want to hurt—!"
He paused suddenly, backtracking for words as the medic stared expectantly. "...anyone... besides the dobe," he finished quickly. "Don't take it so damn personally."
After their plates were clear, Sakura leaned back uncomfortably in her chair. If she had eaten too much or too fast, she wasn't sure… but something wasn't sitting right. She tried to shift her position inconspicuously, but nothing could get past Sasuke. He smirked and shook his head disdainfully at her, "That happens when you eat too fast after not eating at all."
"I was just trying keep up with you…" she breathed. "You practically inhale your food!"
"Hn. Wait here." He got up from his seat and disappeared from view. Figuring he went to use the washroom, Sakura yawned and stretched her lower back tiredly. Studying was definitely not an option later. As soon as she got home, she'd follow her own brilliant plan of collapsing on the floor somewhere and sleeping till noon. With her arms folded on the table, she rested her head against them and barely noticed when Sasuke returned.
"Do you need to be carried?" he asked in irritation.
"Noo," she yawned. "Can you ask for the bill though?"
"I took care of it."
"What? Sasuke!" she protested angrily. "I have money too, you know! You don't need to do me any favors!"
He sneered and bent down to take hold of her forearm. "Whatever pisses you off," he drawled. "It's worth it. Let's go, annoying."
With a gentle tug, he helped the scowling Sakura to her feet. Shaking her head in frustration, she took her arm back and smiled softly despite herself. "Stop calling me that. One of these days I'm going to kick your ass for it," she threatened half-heartedly.
He shrugged, giving off the usual suffocating air of disdain. "Sure you will."
Once they were outside the restaurant, Sakura stretched her arms and felt a little better when the cool night air swept past her skin. She smiled happily; the only light existing around them now was the moon. The serenity cascading from that pale glow was enough to erase any uneasiness from her system.
She grinned at Sasuke after reaching the bottom of the steps. "Guess I should thank you then. My treat next time though, okay?"
Brushing past her, she noticed he had begun walking in the direction of her apartment. "Uh… Sasuke?" she asked when she realized his intent. "You don't need to walk me home…"
"You're tired," he stated with some reprimand. "If I'm not with you you'll walk into a ditch."
"Thanks," she muttered with a roll of her eyes. Chasing after him, Sakura eventually reached his side and walked with her hands clasped thoughtfully behind her back. "It's been a couple days since I last saw you," she told him. "Nothing else is new?"
"What about your meetings with the village council?"
"What about them?"
"How are they?"
Giggling, Sakura placed a hand over her mouth. "Okay, well, let's see… Naruto's away so who have you been training with lately?"
"Nobody besides Kakashi."
She sighed. "You really won't spar with anyone else?"
"I'll have to change your mind about that one."
He smirked. "How?"
"By force. I'll attack you in the middle of the night. Hey how's your next week looking?"
"You're scheduling when you're going to attack me?"
"No. Idiot! I'm just wondering what you'll be up to."
"A few more meetings with the council."
"And training with Kakashi-sensei as well still?"
"Hey what book is he reading right now?"
"Who knows." He paused. "Sakura."
"Why are you asking me so many questions?"
Furrowing her pink eyebrows in thought, Sakura tapped a finger to her chin. "I don't know. I guess… I kind of like that you're answering," she admitted.
Unable to comprehend, he eyed her suspiciously. "That I'm answering…?"
"Well, yeah," she shrugged. "I know it's sounds silly, but I feel like we've finally become friends."
He didn't respond, but his intense stare willed her to continue.
"I mean, I don't know if you considered us real friends before, but it feels different to me now." She nodded thoughtfully to herself. "Yeah! It feels better. It feels like you actually don't mind telling me things… so… that's probably why I keep asking!"
With a grim nod, Sasuke turned his attention straight ahead, keeping with his usual laid-back manner. Rubbing her hands nervously, Sakura hoped she hadn't offended him… he didn't seem completely satisfied with her answer. "Sorry, Sasuke," she began softly. "I didn't mean to imply—"
"Don't apologize." he said quickly. "I understand."
Smiling weakly, she rewound the conversation in her head and wondered if she had said too much. Maybe revealing that she felt their childhood friendship was a fake fell into the overboard category… but hey, Sasuke didn't seem to be arguing. It didn't matter. She was certain he felt the same anyway.
What was their friendship if not for the occasional spat-on dialogue forced out by Sakura's whining and prodding? She was just a teammate to him; someone Sasuke traveled and coordinated with as a member of his team. He was willing to protect and save her life for humanity sake, and humanity sake only.
There was no denying that nothing they shared in the past could compare to what they shared now.
Keeping with Sasuke's pace, Sakura nudged him playfully with her shoulder. "You can ask me things too, if you want."
Lifting an eyebrow, the Uchiha seemed content with her offer. "I'll keep that in mind."
Reaching the doorstep of her apartment, Sakura yawned and opened her door with ease. "I'm glad we had a chance to hang out," Sakura told him honestly, not noticing the sudden tense expression on his face. "You're going to be really busy in the next few days, so…"
Before she could finish, Sasuke stepped forward and instantly had her backed up against the doorframe. Surprised at their sudden close proximity, her voice emitted a pitiful squeak. What the hell had gotten into him? "H-Hey…!"
"Can I see you tomorrow?" His voice was suddenly hard, demanding… as if she were being interrogated. Jeez, when Uchiha Sasuke wanted attention…
The sharp inquiry took some time to register. "Yeah, of course…" she stammered. "Why?"
Ignoring the question, and as if just realizing he was overstepping his boundaries, Sasuke moved back from her. "Where are you going to be?"
With him standing at a more comfortable distance, the intense moment retreated and Sakura instantly relaxed. "Probably in Tsunade-sama's office till dark…?"
"Fine, I'll pick you up," he grunted. With that said, the dark-haired boy turned his back and walked in the direction of his own house. His footsteps against the gravel seemed to ignite a strange feeling of unsettlement through her chest. Just now, that feeling of him being so close…
(Sakura… thank you.)
She stared after him till his silhouette vanished into the darkness that surrounded. The tugging nostalgia lingering as she hesitantly closed the door.
Author's note: When I'm writing a scene where the characters are eating, I avoid describing the food. Not sure why… I think I'm just bad at it. Anyway, this little date of theirs wasn't suppose to take up the whole chapter. Actually, I hadn't intended it to happen at all… but here we are! That's what happens when my mind goes off on a tangent. I've changed the rating of the story to T... the M was for upcoming chapters, but since I'm not quite there, let's make this horrible story more accessible! Oh yeah, I hope you're not getting sick of the same flashback over and over, but it's a necessity for Sakura's character later on. Again, feedback is great guys! Always let me know if people are going OOC.
Got a lot of deadlines coming up at school so the next chapter might be slow. Definitely less than two weeks, I promise.
I'd love to make the chapters longer for you guys, but to deliver this story on a continuous basis means sacrificing the length. If my schoolwork ever simmers down I might be able to do it then.