Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto!


In the Morning

-by Alena S. Anigor


She is lying in her bed and staring at the ceiling dismally, emerald eyes glued to the small stains on it, her breathing deep and steady in the darkness of her room.

There are shadows playing on her walls, the wind swaying branches outside her open window, Silvery beams winking through them as they sway. It's autumn and it's chilly outside, and she can hear the rustling of the leaves and crickets chirping but the beauty of the night is lost to her as her thoughts wander continuously in circles, back and forth, between darkness and light.

Between past and present...between bittersweet memories and resurfaced emotions.

Sakura is a smart, logical and conscious girl but she knows she's losing the battle against her heart.

Against that stupid, treacherous little thing beating strongly in her chest.

She closes her eyes, trying hard not to think about him and that night in the forest, about the warmth his hands provided against the cool autumn wind and the sweet taste of raindrops on his lips.

She flinches and turns around in her bed, burrows her head into the depths of her fluffy pillow and inhales the scent of lilacs and lavender.

So different from his...

She moans and opens her eyes, dark eyelashes brushing against the soft fabric, her cheek pressed against the cushion. She cranes her neck and glances outside the window; at the game of shadow and light.

She stares and wonders how something like that could happen...to her...with him...

A few months ago she would snort at the idea and tell anyone who dared to say that they were crazy...She frowns in the darkness, her brows furrowing at the thought that crosses her mind...

You are going crazy, Sakura.

Indeed, she was...

To kiss Naruto in the middle of the forest, after a mission, while rain was falling over them, would seem romantic to somebody else, something to remember and cherish and tell your girl friends and watch them stare at you with dreamy expressions.

Only, she always thought she would experience something romantic like that with Sasuke-kun...Not Naruto...not like that...

And she hated herself for liking it.

Her mind reminds her warningly that she should stop thinking about him and that night.

"You...you look beautiful Sakura-chan..."

She grimaces and turns in her bed once again, staring at the ceiling miserably, expecting an answer from it, something that could help her sort out the confusion in her head and smother the distracting, unwanted sensations in her chest.

The ceiling remains unresponsive.

"Damn it," she mutters and puts a hand over her forehead, shielding her eyes from the accusing moon outside her window.

She feels a bit like a traitor for kissing him...like she had betrayed the feelings she harbored for the dark-haired Uchiha prodigy...She can't help but feel sad and disappointed and angry and confused for letting something like that happen. She was supposed to wait until Sasuke-kun came back from his mission as an avenger, run up to him and hug him and kiss him and plan their future together...

Instead, she lets Naruto kiss her and hug her. And she hugs and kisses him back...

She snorts, thinking how Fate and Irony must be two, cruel bitches with too much spare time since they decided to screw her over like that.

It's quiet now; the sounds dying out slowly outside and she's left to think and ponder and wonder again in the solitude of her room.

She can feel it now; she just doesn't want to admit it yet to herself. She's just stubborn like that. Her mind refuses to acknowledge the answer to her questions but her heart knows and rebels against her attempts to finally see the truth.

To accept the fact that there is something different and new in the air and in her life...

Sakura is indeed, a smart girl but she still needs more time to figure out...

...when have things changed so much?

She can't put a finger on it, can't define it no matter how hard her logical mind tries to determine why she can't stop thinking about him and that night and why the feelings of guilt and betrayal are slowly dissipating...She stares dejectedly at the shining orb outside amidst the sea of little stars and she sighs heavily, wanting so hard to sleep and dream about hospital utensils and wounds and even blood. Anything to get her mind off of him and his...

She closes her eyes and she is standing in the forest again, with him in front of her...

-

She is looking up at him because he had gotten so much taller, so much older and mature. It's dark and cold and rain is falling all around them, soaking their clothes and chilling their flesh and bones. She knows her hair is plastered to her face; she is tired and dirty and exhausted but for some reason he is looking at her in awe and she can't help but feel uncomfortable.

"Naruto, wha-"

"You...you look so beautiful, Sakura-chan..."

And in a blur of colors, sensations and sounds, she feels his lips on hers, his arms around her, her own fingers gripping his shoulders tightly. And she feels; for the first time in a long time, she feels again - something new and familiar and nice at all once. And she feels warm.

It lasts for a couple of seconds, minutes, she doesn't count until inner Sakura screams at her and she jerks away from him abruptly, letting go of him quickly as if she got burned.

Ironically, she realizes later, she did.

He stares at her in wonder, various emotions fleeting over his vibrant, blue eyes as she stares at him in shock and disbelief.

And then, without a second thought, she raises a hand and slaps him hard across the face, the action causing his head to snap to the side, the sound alien amidst the sounds of nature.

She inhales and he exhales deeply, slowly turning his head to look at her, his cheek red and slightly swollen, hurt and confusion shining in pools of blue. She waits for a second longer before she turns and flees away from him, her feet carrying her down the path, over the puddles of water and wet, slippery grass.

She runs and runs and cries along the way for reasons unknown to her. But she feels like running and she feels like crying so she allows herself to do that.

She reaches her humble apartment and storms inside, locking the door behind her. She runs to the bathroom and turns the faucets roughly, letting the different kind of water splash in her face.

She spends an hour under the shower, staring in bewilderment at the white curtain, hot water running down her shaking body, steam hiding the game of mixed emotions on her face and in her eyes...

And for some reason, she can't stop thinking about him...

-

Her mind scolds at her disapprovingly...Her heart smiles and winks at her.

She growls and opens her eyes. It's past 2 am and she can't sleep. She must go to work tomorrow.

But she's awake all through the night, her mind slowly loosing the battle as well as the war and she knows it, she hates it and she can't stop it.

"You...you look so beautiful, Sakura-chan..."

Nobody has ever called her beautiful before...Sasuke-kun would never tell that to her...And Sasuke-kun would never kiss her in the rain like that...

She falls asleep when the dawn comes; sunshine creeping through the window lazily.

She feels warm and content. She feels secure in a tight embrace, amidst a sunny day, and she inhales a familiar scent and remembers the rain.

She smiles in her sleep.

And finally, she understands.

-

a/n:

Written as a birthday present for Sharingank. It's few days early, but what the heck! XD

My first NaruSaku! Usually, I'm a SasuSaku fan, but this was for Ashes and a challenge... -winks-