Well, I'm at it again, so enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. ...I'm too tired to even make an attempt at anything witty (not that I'd succeed) here.

It takes a while, a death, and a traitor for it to finally sink in, but in the end it does, and she wakes up in the middle of the night, seeing everything for the first time, despite the blinding darkness around her.

She trembles in the wake of her epiphany, scared and awed and maybe a little sick, because it took her so long, and if it took her so long, then how long will it take everyone else? How long will it take others, who don't know him like she does, who haven't bonded, lived, breathed next to him for what seems like both eternity and only an instant.

How much longer will it take the world that rejects him to see what Naruto really is?

But then, she supposes, that's not true. The only world that rejects him is the one he wants to accept him most. It's irony at its best, she thinks, but then, perhaps it doesn't matter so much.

There are other places…

(He saw a dingy, colourless little village, which was oppressed and desolate, and gave it the will to fight.)

(He met a whiny, heartbroken child who had no reason to believe, and gave him hope for the future.)

(He took a frightened, broken community that needed help, and gave it faith in itself and its dreams.)

…and other people…

(He cried for an enemy he barely knew, and gave the Devil back his humanity.)

(He head-butted a boy who lived solely for his selfish desires, and gave the desert back its heart.)

(He hunted down a woman who'd lost it all, and gave her the ability to believe again.)

…and even people from here

(He smiled at a timid, shaking mouse who didn't believe in herself, and gave her the courage to stand her ground and get back up, against every odd.)

(He punched a boy who cursed his lot in life in the face, and gave him the strength to alter his fate.)

(He tricked an old man who thought his glory days were over, and gave him something to take pride in.)

Naruto, she thinks with a soft smile, has an uncanny ability to give people back what they've lost. He's always fixing people without even trying, without even having to. She fingers her hair. Without even being conscious of it, he impresses and alters and changes and saves people, because that's who he is, and who he will always be. He is a hero in the truest sense, and she vaguely wonders why she ever doubted his claim to the Hokage's title.

(He made a promise to a shallow little girl, and gave her the inspiration to be strong for the people she loved.)

Sakura leans up, away from her pillows, and looks at the slumbering village below her second story window. She looks at the thousand tiny houses with their thousand tiny-minded people, fruitlessly rejecting the boy who gives his heart to a village who hates him, and inspires the will of fire without even having to try. She looks at her still-smooth,-but-steadily-becoming-more-calloused hand, and clenches it in a display of determination, mimicking the look she's seen on Naruto's face a thousand times, feeling the blood pump thickly in her ears and the rush of air in her lungs.

" Just you wait," She whispers to the inky sky over the Hokage Monument.

" I'll be a teammate you can be proud of, Naruto."

Because Sakura needs to be inspired by more than just "getting Sasuke-kun's attention! Kyaa!" (Sorry, that's pre-Forest of Death Sakura. After that, she starts to get way more bearable.)