Sasuke didn't know exactly when he had actually started paying attention to her. 'Her' being the pink-haired girl on his team who had transformed from a naïve, annoying, clingy girl to a hot-headed, still annoying (though better,) and powerful (even he would admit that) young woman.
He was always observant of course, but he ever really paid attention specifically to her. She was not of interest to him…
…So why was it that the moment she walked through the door that he noticed she had dressed differently than any other days before.
He wasn't the only one who noticed of course, and thankfully, the dobe was blunt enough to ask her why she wasn't wearing her normal clothes. If the blonde hadn't asked…well…Sasuke didn't know exactly how long it would be before the question would burst from his own mouth (albeit in a calm and cool manner.)
Sakura stared at them worriedly. "Is there something wrong with what I'm wearing?" She did a little spin. "Should I change?"
"Why are you even wearing that?" Naruto wrinkled his nose. "And something smells like strawberries in here."
Sakura's face flushed. "It's my shampoo." She told them.
"You even changed your shampoo?" Naruto leaned forward in his seat. "What's going on, Sakura-chan? Is someone special coming over later?" His face took on a look of (mock) hurt. "You don't like someone other than me do you?"
"Don't be silly, you idiot," Sakura laughed. "I just felt like dressing up a bit today."
Sasuke watched silently, but he absorbed everything like a sponge. He had returned one year ago, and now at the age of eighteen, he believed he knew the girl enough to know that she was not the type of person to randomly dress up. She definitely wasn't the same twelve-year old Haruno Sakura he had known back then.
"So," it was clear by her tone that the girl was changing the subject. "Did you hear about who's coming over this afternoon?"
Naruto gave her a questioningly gaze. "Who, Sakura-chan?"
Sasuke remained silent.
"I heard it from Tsunade-sama yesterday," Sakura sat down next to her two comrades. "The Sand Siblings are coming over. Gaara has some business to attend to here."
Sasuke unconsciously narrowed his eyes. His impression of Gaara was not a good one. Naruto had told him that Gaara had changed, but in Sasuke's mind, the red-haired demon container would always be the person who had tried to murder him as well as Naruto and Sakura.
"I hope I will get to see Gaara today or tomorrow," Sasuke pulled out of his thoughts to listen to what Sakura was saying. "He's seems so lonely, sometimes, and he hardly ever initiates a conversation, even though we see each other all the time when he comes over to Konoha."
"Maybe Sakura-chan likes Gaara," Naruto waggled his eyebrows. It was meant to be a joke, but Sasuke only felt a pang of something unfamiliar in the pit of his stomach. He looked down, and realized that his fists were clenched.
"Are you kidding?" Sakura gave Naruto a little shove. "I mean, not that he isn't good-looking or anything…" Sasuke narrowed his eyes even more. "…but I don't think he and I would work out…you know…because…"
She abruptly cut her sentence off, which caused Sasuke's suspicion to rise.
"I-I have to go," Sakura suddenly stood up.
"W-What?" Naruto whined. "But you just got here!"
"I'll see you later," she waved to them, a smile (which to Sasuke, seemed to be forced,) on her face. "Bye Naruto, Sasuke-kun."
She darted out; leaving Sasuke and Naruto to wonder what the heck was going on.
Sakura was practically sprinting down the streets. Her heart was palpitating at a rate she knew was not healthy, and her hands wouldn't stop trembling.
Stupid! She reprimanded herself. You almost said that you liked Sasuke!
She stopped running when she believed she was far enough, and leaned against a nearby wall to calm herself done.
A year ago, when Sasuke had finally come home, she had been overjoyed. But she also had learned to control her emotions (a little better) and did not pounce on him (even though Inner Sakura was telling her to do so) when she first laid eyes on him. He was as handsome as ever.
Overtime, he seemed to approve of her new character, and Sakura wanted things to stay that way.
Her crush for him never really was mentioned as the year went by, and Sakura thought that perhaps Sasuke believed that she had stopped crushing on him. This was not the case, but Sakura cherished the friendship they had at the moment, and she was terrified that one little mistake would immediately snap the thin string holding their bond together.
If he knew I still liked him…she thought miserably, he'll immediately think that I'm my twelve year old self again and he'll hate me.
Sasuke just couldn't seem to get Sakura out of his mind.
He and Naruto had split a long time ago, and now he found himself wandering the streets of Konoha aimlessly. Some people stop and stared, but most had already grown accustomed to the return of the Uchiha.
He was a traitor to most, but (even though he would never admit it,) he was glad for the support his teammates—no, friends—showed him when he was shunned by the rest of society (except for a few rabid fan girls.)
The question just wouldn't leave his mind: Why was Sakura dressed up today?
He tried to remember if it was anything special. Her birthday? No…that wasn't for another two months or so. And yes, he did remember her birthday (although that was another one of those things that he would never admit.)
And Gaara…again, that unfamiliar feeling resurfaced. The Uchiha already disliked the guy, and now to add insult to injury, there was a possibility that Sakura liked that redhead better than him.
…Wait…Where had that thought come from?
Sasuke scoffed to himself. Did he really care if Sakura like anyone better than him? No…definitely not…there was no way. He scowled. Damnit.
The more he thought about it, the more his thoughts became muddled. What exactly was he feeling anyway?
Now, Uchiha Sasuke was not stupid. He had a slight suspicion of what he was feeling. It was called jealousy. But, being the person he was, Sasuke submerged himself in self-denial and refused to believe any of the nonsense his logical self was telling him.
This was not happening.
Sakura stood next to Shizune and Tsunade as the door was pushed open and the Kagekaze stepped in.
"You're early," Tsunade told the young man, and he stared at her apathetically. "The others diplomats won't be here for another hour."
"…I'll wait." He told her simply.
"Why don't you come with me?" Sakura gave him the brightest smile she could muster. They weren't exactly friends; Naruto was the only person he would actually recognize as a friend; but they acknowledged each other. "I'll update you on things in Konoha."
Tsunade had spent the night before gambling away, and now she needed sleep. It would be best to let her rest before the meeting began so she was at her best senses.
The redhead followed her wordlessly out the door.
"So," she said as they reached the bottom of the stairs. "Where'd you like to go?"
"It doesn't matter," he wasn't really looking at her, but was staring ahead. "I will go where you take me."
Sakura was glad at how much he had improved behavior-wise. Of course, he was still silent mostly and seemed broody to a stranger's eyes, but there had definitely been a change in him…for the better.
"Well, I was going to go to Yamanka's Flower Shop later on," she started walking. "But would you like to accompany me now? I'll introduce you to all the flowers."
Gaara nodded his head, and he followed after her.
Sasuke was on his way home when he heard a laugh.
He knew that sound anywhere.
"Gaara…" A stifled giggle.
Sasuke narrowed his eyes. Gaara again?
"…I know I told you a yellow rose means friendship," another laugh. "But I think Naruto would be a little freaked out if you gave him one."
There was a slightly embarrassed, though mostly disgruntled grunt as a reply.
This time, Sasuke turned around to look. There she was…and she was with Gaara.
"Hey, isn't that Sakura-sama and the kazekage?"
Sasuke glanced back at two women who had stopped in the street to observe.
"They look good together don't they?"
No, they don't. The thought came to mind before he could stop himself.
"It would be so cute if they were to become a couple."
Sasuke had had enough. Turning back around, he stalked out past the gossiping women. He had already forgotten where his previous destination was. He just wanted to get the hell out of there and go somewhere isolated so he could release his chidori on unsuspecting trees.
Rage boiled inside of him, and Sasuke didn't even bother to ask what the heck he was feeling at seeing Sakura with someone else.
Like said before, Uchiha Sasuke was not stupid.
There was no use denying it anymore.
He liked Haruno Sakura.
It was an hour later when he wandered out of the woods. Tsunade was probably going to yell at him tomorrow for destroying a good part of Konoha's forest life.
He grimaced inwardly. Why was it that she popped out every time he didn't want to see her? "What are you doing here?"
Unaware that her presence was not wanted, Sakura took a step closer to him. "I just followed Gaara back to the Hokage's office. They have a meeting now."
Sasuke looked away. Gaara… He never wanted to hear that name again. "Hn."
"Wait, Sasuke-kun!" she ran up to him. "You wanna walk home together? I mean, it's in the same direction."
Sakura was struck with surprise as her eyes saddened. "Why not?" He never denied her before. A sudden fear seized her. Had he started hating her again!
Sasuke couldn't believe this. How could it be that he was being affected by a mere look from this girl? This was ridiculous. "Hn."
"Are you coming or not?"
The panic decreased. So he didn't hate her after all.
He may not hate me…Sakura stared at her feet as they walked. But he's definitely mad at me about something…
Their walk was silent, which was nothing out of the ordinary, but Sasuke seemed to be keeping his distance more than usual today. And there was a dangerous aura surrounding him that Sakura was pretty sure that even he was not aware of it.
She bit her lip in nervousness, before taking a deep breath. "Sasuke-kun…why are you mad at me?"
He turned his gaze onto her, his eyes unreadable. He was the epitome of composed.
Inside however, he was a mess. Why am I mad? He would have laughed. I'm not mad. Why would I be mad?
He gritted his teeth. Damnit. Just thinking about her with Gaara made him want to strangle something. Why didn't she tell me that she liked him sooner? Does she not trust me? "Why would you think I'm mad…"
"I can tell you're mad," she mumbled. "But I don't know what I did wrong…"
Another thought emerged, and it only made him even more irritated. And why in the world does she even like him? How is he better than me? His pride was being unmercifully beaten. What does he have that I don't?
He couldn't take it anymore, and he suddenly struck out and grabbed her arms. "Sakura…" his voice was level, but somewhat strained, as though he couldn't wait to get what was on his mind out into the open. "Tell me…why you like him. Just tell me."
She stared at him for awhile, before asking confusedly, "Who?"
"That Gaara!" he snarled. "Why do you like him? I want to know!"
Her face showed shock, then realization, then mischievousness. She smirked in an impish manner. "Sasuke-kun is…jealous?"
He dropped his hands, and took a step back. "I never said I was," the excuse sounded lame even to his ears. "I just want to know why you like him…" More than me.
Sakura gave a laugh. "Oh, Sasuke-kun, I never said anything about liking Gaara. I don't even know where you got the thought."
"You dressed up for him," he blurted out. "You were with him at a flower shop."
Sakura gave him a long look, and then another laugh. "I dressed up because my grandmother is coming later tonight. I haven't seen her in a long while. I was showing Gaara around because Tsunade-sama needed rest and he was early for the meeting." She cocked her head and smiled. "Anything else?"
Sasuke faltered, though it was hardly noticeable. He had run out of excuses. "Hn." he opted for his trademark 'all-answer' reply instead.
She slowly walked over to him. "Now tell me why you're mad." She was so close, and the sun was setting in the distance.
"I…" Sasuke couldn't believe he was being coaxed into telling her that he was jealous. "I didn't like it."
"So you were jealous," she stated matter-of-factly.
Sasuke turned away, his pride deflating quickly. He couldn't believe this was happening to him, of all people.
Sudden arms encircled his waist, and he glanced down sharply to see that Sakura had pressed herself into his chest.
"There's no one other than you," she mumbled against his shirt. "It's always been you."
Hesitantly, and somewhat awkwardly, he returned the embrace.
He smirked to himself.
There had better not be someone other than him.
xD I love writing Jealous Sasuke.