She was foolish, Sakura decided. Foolish for thinking she could learn the jutsu's that Naruto used with such ease. She was even more foolish, she decided, for making him promise to teach her.
Since he had now given her his promise to teach her three of his jutsus, he wouldn't let her quit.
Sakura glared at Naruto. She hurt. All over. And it was only noon.
"Come on, Sakura-chan! You gotta work hard at learning these jutsu's. Nobody learns any of them easily," The nearby blond said, speaking in his normal near-yell voice.
Muttering to herself, Sakura formed a seal, the first two fingers of each fist extended and crossed perpendicularly at the first joint. She took a moment to focus and concentrate, then yelled, "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" Expecting nothing to happen once again, she jumped in surprise when a poof of smoke greeted her attempt with the jutsu. When the white smoke cleared, she found she was staring at herself. It took the poor, exhausted girl a moment to process the information, then she cheered. And promptly fell over.
"Good job, Sakura-chan!" Naruto ran up, and flopped down to the ground beside the exhausted real Sakura. He eyed the bunshin still standing, which was eyeing him back. "You better release the bunshin, Sakura-chan, and get your chakra back." The clone poofed into a cloud of smoke as Sakura complied. "Good work, Sakura-chan. After more practice, you'll be able to create more bunshins, and faster."
Sakura didn't think she could move yet, but she knew for certain she didn't want to and wasn't going to try, not yet. She grumbled about's Naruto's more practice comment, and spoke grumpily, "Naruto, it took me a week to make one. I don't want to spend another week of exhaustion to make two."
"Don't worry, Sakura-chan. It's much easier to improve on Kage Bunshin no Jutsu than it is to learn it."
Sakura closed her eyes and was quiet for a few moments, then asked, "Naruto? How many bunshins did you make the first time you used it?"
"Eh... that's not really important, Sakura-chan," he replied nervously, scratching the back of his head.
Sakura opened one eye and trained a green eyed glare on Naruto. "Naruto. Tell. Now," she ground out.
"Eh... about a hundred," he responded, leaning back slightly. Maybe he was out of range.
The pink-haired kunoichi opened her other eye and glared at Naruto with all the force those green eyes could muster. "A hundred! You told me I did good making one!"
Naruto held his hands up, palms out, in a placating gesture. "You did, you did, considering I was your teacher!"
Sakura sighed. "No, Naruto, don't say that. You're a great teacher. I'm just annoyed and irritated at how little chakra I have."
"Sakura-chan... You'll get better. It just takes time and hard work. I wouldn't be as good as I am today if I hadn't worked like you have been. But I did it for years, every single day." Naruto reached out and took one of Sakura's hands in his own, and looked at it. "You know what kept me going?"
Sakura turned her gaze to Naruto again, and asked, "Your dream to become Hokage?"
Naruto shook his head. "No, Sakura-chan. I did it so I could protect you from anything. You were my motivation, Sakura-chan, you made me strong."
She smiled, and Naruto was surprised to see unshed tears in her eyes. "Thank you, Naruto, for protecting me." She was quiet a moment. "I just wish you could have protected me from myself."
"What do you mean, Sakura-chan?"
"Remember when I cheered when teams were selected and I found out Sasuke was on my team?" Naruto nodded. "I wish I could tell that stupid pink haired little twit that she was cheering for the wrong person at that table that day." Sakura sat up, and slid over to sit beside Naruto. She threaded her fingers through Naruto's, and smiled sadly at the intertwined hands. "I'd also tell her that the sooner she falls in love with that blond haired brat she found so irritating, the sooner she would be happy."
"Hey! I'm not a brat," Naruto replied, indignantly.
"You were back then," Sakura giggled. "And you still are." She leaned over and kissed his temple. "But you're my brat."
"Sakura-chaaaan, you're mean," Naruto mock-whined, the effect spoiled by the happy twinkle in his azure eyes.
She smiled at his antics, and rested her head on his shoulder. Yes, she was foolish, she thought as her eyelids became heavy and began to droop. Foolish for not falling in love with the deadlast sooner.
Uzumaki Sakura fell asleep, propped up against the Rokudaime Hokage.