Little Piece of Heaven
Leanne Ashley

Chapter 12

"You know," Naruto scowled "if you're not going to put up a fight, I might as well go spar with that tree trunk over there."

Running an arm across his forehead, Sasuke openly glared back at him. "What's that suppose to mean?"

Sighing, the blonde stood from his crouched position and spun a kunai casually around his index finger. "You're off today, jerk. What's bothering you?"

A kunai quickly flew towards him and knocked the weapon from his hand.

Smirking, Naruto shrugged it off and got back into a fighting stance. "You don't have to have a hissy-fit about it—I was just curious."

"Nothing's bothering me…" Sasuke growled. It was more of a warning to drop the subject.

Oh, right… that's convincing. Lately there had been a strange shift in Sasuke's normally predictable mannerisms. Naruto noticed his friend had become easily distracted in their occasional activity of training and standing-around-looking-badass…-ness. Granted, Sasuke never looked like he was paying attention when the blonde jabbered on and on, but this assumption was usually proven wrong when he'd spit out a snide remark at the end of Naruto's stories. An arrogant, stick-up-the-ass kind of comment of course… but it meant he was listening.

However, the other day as they were walking through the market from the training grounds, Sasuke really wasn't paying attention. Instead, the dark-haired boy was searching the crowd, looking quite irritated as he did so. When the blonde asked who he was looking for, the boy snapped and made quick work of making the innocent question sound preposterous.

Sasuke had also developed a strange hostility towards Neji and Lee. While the close circle of shinobi were hanging out several days back, Lee had started gushing about how beautiful their pink-haired teammate had become. The heartfelt swooning seemed to annoy Sasuke more than anyone else as the glare on his face began to twitch. Neji, on the other hand, didn't have to say a word to get under the Uchiha's skin. The silver-eyed boy merely breathed the same air and Sasuke scowled and analyzed him like he was some sort of dangerous insect.

He had also let his temper get the best of him. Now when Uchiha Sasuke's ticked-off, he usually just gives the victim a 'look' – the only one to have that sort of 'get the fuck out of my face' kind of charm. And if anything's to be said, it's a quick and painful death by a snarky cluster of words, and he's done with you… if you're lucky. Very rarely though does he get fired up enough to yell and snarl like a feral dog in a cage. So, on a day when they were approached by men asking if Sakura was available for the taking, Naruto wasn't expecting his friend to flip. Personally, he thought he'd be the one making the fuss, but it was Sasuke who began growling obscenities. After basically telling them to stay the fuck away from her, the men were already running scared.

He had found Sasuke's newfound loyalty to his teammate admirable, but he didn't have to be so… scary about it.

"Fine," Naruto shrugged again. "Hey, visiting with the city council must be pretty rough. What goes on back there?" Running toward the Uchiha prodigy, Naruto swung his fist forward and aimed for his friend's gut. Sasuke dodged it easily and swiveled away, but was quickly kicked backwards when the blonde predicted his move.

Hitting the tree trunk behind him, Sasuke clutched his stomach and rested the other arm over his knee. "They ask me the stupidest things…" he grumbled.

"Like what?"

Sasuke got up to his feet. With a sudden burst of speed, he was at his friend's side and ready to slam his fist against his face. Catching the fist in his hand, Naruto gritted his teeth and slammed his other fist forward; having it caught by Sasuke's in the same manner.

"Like… if I know the importance of being a shinobi… if I know the meaning of friendship…!" Grinding his teeth, Sasuke raised a leg and kneed the fox boy in the gut. Gasping at having his breath seized, Naruto leaned forward slightly before releasing Sasuke's fist and slumping to the ground.

"Ow…" he whined through pants. "So… you… know the meaning of friendship now?"

The dark-haired boy sneered. "I put up with you, don't I?"

"Hah! Without me you'd just fall over shrieking."

"Whatever, idiot."

Naruto forced himself up and quickly swung a fist in Sasuke's direction. Catching the fox by his wrist, he meant to derail the blow and swing the other boy over his shoulder and into the ground. Being able to read the Uchiha's half-hearted movements; however, Naruto easily escaped the hold and kicked his best friend away with a frustrated growl.

"Okay, seriously! I don't know what's twisting your boxers, but get it together!"

"What?" the other boy demanded.

"You keep hesitating and you're about a half-second slow in all your moves. Yeesh, why is there anything bothering you at all?"

The Uchiha scoffed. "There's nothing, dobe! Drop it already!"

"Whatever. I'm just saying you don't have much to be disturbed about. You got your revenge, you got back into Konoha… everything you wanted!" He paused thoughtfully. "And hey, Sakura-chan doesn't love you anymore so the only person annoying you is me, right?"

Sasuke immediately froze.

"One less thing to bother you," Naruto added. When they were younger, he was no stranger to the fact that Sasuke despised Sakura's affections. The message was loud, clear, and beaten out with drums. In fact, it was one of the reasons why he truly disliked Sasuke in the first place. Before Hinata, Naruto was absolutely infatuated with their pink-haired teammate, and sure, she may have hated him at the time, but it didn't change the fact that he thought highly of her. So when Uchiha Sasuke openly rejected the girl of his dreams and treated her feelings as a hindrance, the urge to bend those spikes on his head was all consuming.

Finding nothing odd about the dark-haired boy's silence, Naruto casually began securing the pouch around his waist. "And if you ask me, she's a lot better off without you on her mind 24/7." He chuckled nervously when he noticed the rather cryptic look on Sasuke's face. "I don't mean that as an insult… I'm just saying she's moved on."

Cold, charcoal eyes stared blankly at him before shifting to the ground. "Yeah."

"So I asked Tsunade-baachan to give us an A or B rank mission as soon as our team's back, and—" Looking around, Naruto was startled to find his best friend no longer standing across from him. In the blinding orange light of dusk, he eventually spotted the retreating Uchiha against the horizon. He seemed to be storming off in the direction of the Hokage's office.

"Oi, Sasuke!" he yelled. "Where are you going?"

"I have something else to do!" snapped the irate reply.

Before drifting to sleep, Sakura had calculated how many hours she had put into studying that day. An atrocious amount it would seem, as the pile of books she had finished reading outnumbered the books she had yet to touch.

Her entire day had seemed pretty mundane. After sleeping in, something she did rarely but she could chalk that up to Sasuke's late-night visit, she grabbed a quick breakfast and ran to the Hokage's office. Her sensei was, as usual, up to her neck in documents and mission assigning, but allowed Sakura to use her private study room for the day. Bookcase after towering bookcase awaited, but the pink-haired kunoichi was determined to plow her way through.

And plow she did.

Hours later she was sleepy and crammed full of knowledge. So much, in fact, her brain throbbed and pounded for her to stop.

More hours later, and somewhere between the words mitochondria and cytoplasm, Sakura's forehead came to a rest against the pages. 'Screw it' was the final word of judgment as she folded her arms on the desk and snuggled her head against them.

Although there was no escaping the fact that she spent an odd amount of time being tired. Tsunade had told her it was normal in the first couple years of training as a medical nin. Physical and mental strain was part of the package deal, and her body would just have to cope. It was painful and frustrating; being exhausted for a good chunk of the day was not something she could be proud of. Taking her teammate's advice, Sakura had stopped forcing herself to practice every jutsu she came across and was already noticing a slight improvement in her sleep schedule.

This time; however, she was tired because she had merely stayed up too late the night before. Inwardly, she jokingly shook her fist at the image of Sasuke.

Sakura slept pleasantly for about a half-hour as the sunset passed through the window. She failed to hear the door to the study opening or the steps approaching her from behind.


She shifted slightly as her sparkling green eyes peeked out from the comforts of her arms. It was amazing that no matter what her physical state, Sakura's eyes always held a life of their own.

"Sasuke…" she whispered groggily. Lifting her head, she gazed at him curiously before remembering why it was he was there. "Oh! I'm sorry, Sasuke… You wanted to see me about something, right?"

He frowned, staring at her rather grimly while she smiled expectantly at him. Truthfully, Sakura had been rather curious about what he had to say… if he was going to say anything at all. By 'can I see you?' he could've just meant he wanted to hang out. Of course, she had automatically assumed that by see, he meant 'a brief exchange of words and/or ideas.' It was Sasuke, after all…

Rubbing her eyes tiredly, her expectant smile changed to that of slight confusion when he didn't say anything. There was something a little unnerving about his expression; his eyes seemed to be analyzing her carefully… a little too carefully.

Finally, Sasuke deterred his gaze. "Let's just get you to bed…" he muttered.

Her first reaction was to question him on his reasons for wanting to be there. Then instantly, she veered to feelings of intense guilt for dampening the atmosphere with her less-than vibrant demeanor. Telling someone you'd meet up with them and then falling asleep on the scene wasn't the most polite thing a person could do. Unfortunately, all these actions required energy—energy in which she drained away with every page she had turned.

Without arguing, Sakura moved her chair back and rubbed irritably at her shoulders. She winced when she realized her leg had fallen asleep as well.

Turning his back, Sasuke crouched slightly by her chair.

"What are you doing?" she asked, her voice too tired to express the surprise she felt by his actions.

"Get on," he urged with a tinge of annoyance, as if the answer was obvious.

"Sasuke," Sakura began with a yawn. "You really don't need to—"

He cut her off as usual. "You can argue with me later, just get on."

Fatigue made pushovers it would seem, for the prospect of arguing just wasn't in her. Nodding, and with her eyes half-closed, she leaned forward and rested her arms around Sasuke's neck. Picking up both her legs at his waist, he hoisted her effortlessly onto his back and stood.

"Hey…" Sakura forced out tiredly as they proceeded to leave the office. "How about we do some window-shopping on the way?"

"Shut up," he told her dryly. "Go back to sleep."

Her chin obediently came to a rest at the crook of his neck. "It's… okay…?"

"Yeah, I don't mind..." Sasuke answered hesitantly. "Go ahead."

Feeling the warmth emitting from his body and the almost intoxicating scent that followed, Sakura couldn't help but smile as she unconsciously nuzzled her face more comfortably against his neck. She wondered then, as she drifted to sleep, if this unexpected feeling of warmth and security was actually just part of her dream…

Or was it something else…?

Author's note:
Ah, see? Less than two weeks! Wow, is Sakura tired a lot or what? I've got to think up better scenarios… Anyway, it's a bit short (sorry), but I found it to be the most appropriate way to end Sakura's point of view in the story (or give it a break rather). Now, I may or may not do this… but for the next chapter I want to switch the language and narration so that it's all coming from Sasuke's point of view. I haven't completely decided on this yet because I kind of like how Sasuke's internal reactions are kept from being narrated. I just get a total kick out of writing from an oblivious perspective.

Next chapter deadline: I might have to say 'less than two weeks' again… put up with me, guys! I only have 3 weeks of school left!

By the way, you guys keeping up with the Naruto manga? OH SHIEET, Sasuke's BACK! (ch. 300)