A/N: Here it is guys! Sorry for the slight delay but a migraine from hell decided to hit me in the rear when I was about to sit down and proof read this. But here it is now, for your reading pleasure.

Thanks a lot for your support! I really wasn't expecting so many pretty and nice reviews for this since I decided to write it on a whim. I'm so glad you like it. Alas, it cannot be longer since I really need to get back to my other stories.

It's Sakura's take on denial in this one... hehehe.



Sakura really didn't want to think about what she was doing… she really didn't. She had told herself a hundred times that she going over to the dojo because she was doing Naruto a favour and that was all.

But her inner persona had other opinions.

We simply have to go to the dojo… I mean, we might get to see him!

The pink haired doctor had only rolled her eyes and had tried to vanish all the images of a shirtless red headed fighter that her inner voice was throwing her way.

It had been a more than a week after she had 'gone out' for coffee with Gaara and as the days had gone by, Sakura had concluded that the arrogant kyokushin fighter was nothing more than an insufferable jerk. After going over the way he had behaved during their encounter, the pink haired girl became painfully aware of the 'macho attitude' he had been exuding towards her. It was as if he were happily playing the part of the dominant male while trying to coerce her into the role of the helpless female that would fall to the floor on her knees over all the testosterone he was emanating.

The mere thought was enough to make her stomach nauseous.

Sakura refused to be 'dominated' by anyone, much less a brainless mountain of muscle that had no consideration for the feelings of others. He was cranky, impolite and bossy. Those were the last characteristics she was looking for in a man and the best she could do was forget about the whole thing and get on with her life. It would do no good to get involved with the likes of Gaara and she had enough instincts of self-preservation to know this.

After thinking it over during the whole week, she had vehemently decided she would steer clear of anything or anyone that might lead her to cross paths with the red head once more. She was completely sure that if they ever met each other again, then he would stop at nothing to make her life impossible and to try and overwhelm her with his overriding masculinity. This was, in fact, the last thing Sakura needed since, being the independent woman she was, there was nothing worse than having a caveman attempt to knock her over the head and pull her from the hair to his hidden lair.

Haruno Sakura wasn't some stupid girl that could be won over by the size of a man's muscles. No sir. Haruno Sakura was a professional woman with a successful and prestigious career under her arm. There was a brain inside her head too. Thus, her intelligence allowed her to form sound and logical conclusions concerning the red headed fighter and it was only reasonable for her to stay away from him entirely.

That is, until the moronic Naruto had left his cell phone at her house.

He had come over the night before for popcorn and a couple of movies and had been half asleep when he had finally decided to call it a day. In his state of semi-consciousness he had completely forgotten his cell phone on top of the coffee table in Sakura's TV room and the pink haired doctor had discovered it sitting there the next morning.

Under any other circumstance she wouldn't even have bothered to return it and would have waited for her blond friend to stop by. But Hinata, Sakura's friend and Naruto's fiancé, was out on a business trip for a few weeks and knowing how much those two missed each other, the pink haired doctor knew that if Naruto missed a call from his raven haired sweetheart, he would be completely devastated.

Sakura was too soft for her own good and she knew it. Thus, she had picked up her coat, scarf and gloves after having a quick breakfast and had proceeded to make her way to the dojo where her blond friend was sure to be on a Saturday morning.

She had to take a couple of buses to get downtown where the dojo was located. She was almost there now and as she walked, she was trying very hard not to think about what she might find when she through those doors.

Oh, just admit it. You want to see him.

'I do not,' she replied, grinding her teeth.

Her inner persona retaliated brutally to her negative response and abruptly flooded her mind with images of a half-naked Gaara once again. The pink haired doctor could feel a blush starting to creep across her face.

Haha, see! You can't hide your reactions from me.

'Of course I'm going to react that way,' Sakura replied angrily. 'Any woman with hormones would. But I am not a lascivious idiot that will throw herself upon the first moron to flex his muscles in front of me.'

But you have to admit that they are some really nice muscles…

'Urggh, you're impossible!' the pink haired girl exclaimed inside her mind. 'I care nothing about him and that's final.'

But Inner Sakura didn't agree.

Don't tell me you haven't been worried about him, she said. I know you've been wondering why he hasn't shown up at the hospital to remove his stitches.

Sakura didn't have words to answer that statement for she knew it was completely true. Gaara was supposed to come by a couple of days back but he hadn't made an appearance yet. Knowing his personality, the pink haired doctor was sure that he would attempt to remove the stitches himself, stating that he didn't need anyone's help. She could picture him easily, a stubborn look in his jade eyes while he sat down to pull out the sutures of his arm. The thought made Sakura's stomach churn in anger but underneath it all, she was actually genuinely concerned about him and couldn't help but think that something might have happened to him.

See, you're worried.

'I'm not worried,' she replied huffily. 'It's called professional ethics. It's completely natural for a doctor to be concerned about her patients.'

Inner Sakura rolled her eyes but didn't say anything else. They had already turned the corner of the street where the dojo could be found and the pink haired girl could now clearly read the sign hanging above the entrance.

Bracing herself for whatever she might face, Sakura breathed in deeply before opening the door. Thankfully, nothing that required her immediate retreat was found inside the reception room.

"Sakura, what a surprise!" Tenten exclaimed from across the room. She was sitting behind the front desk, eyeing a martial arts magazine.

"Hi Tenten," the pink haired doctor replied with a smile, walking forward to where the other woman sat. "Blondy left his cell phone at my house last night, so I came to return it."

The brown haired female fighter laughed at that. "I see. They're actually just finishing up with today's session."

Sakura thought about leaving her friend's cell phone at the desk with Tenten and making a run for it but her inner voice interrupted her vehemently.

Don't you dare!

She was about to reply that she could do whatever she wanted when she suddenly realized that if Naruto found out that she had come all the way to the dojo and hadn't said hi, she would be facing a resentful Raging Fox for a whole week.

"Ok, I guess I'll just wait," she finally told Tenten. She turned towards one of the chairs beside the desk but her inner persona wouldn't have it.

Let's take a peek!

'No!' Sakura replied, turning to look down the corridor leading to the training halls.



No one has to see us. We'll just hide behind the door and when they're done, we can come back here and pretend we never saw anything.

Sakura blinked. There wasn't much she could say to refute that idea… it was a win-win situation.

Sighing deeply in resignation, she walked down the corridor and passed a couple of closed shoji doors. She could hear grunts and shouts coming from the end of the hallway and light was streaming down into the shadows of the floor from an open door beyond. The pink haired doctor approached the sliding door quietly and sneaked a peek into the training hall.

A group of 8 men wearing kyokushin uniforms were arranged in two lines facing each other across the room, each one fighting against the man in front. Sakura recognized some of the faces there. Neji and Lee had been Naruto's friends ever since he joined the dojo and Kiba had been welcomed into their group sometime later. All four of them were in the room practicing against some men Sakura had never seen before. She assumed that they were part of the exchange program also.

There he is! Inner Sakura exclaimed suddenly.

The pink haired doctor's emerald eyes zoned in to where her inner voice was directing her and recognized the dishevelled red hair immediately. Thanks to the workings of the universe, Gaara had his back turned towards the door and he was intensely engaged in his practice with Lee.

But this didn't prevent Sakura's mouth from gaping open at the way he moved.

From the tournaments she had attended, she knew that Lee was by far the fastest of the group and even Naruto was hard pressed to keep up with him most of the time. But the way Gaara's body was moving and shifting with the raven haired fighter's punches and kicks was simply amazing. He was not only keeping up with Lee, he was also going on the offence and he was connecting more attacks than he was missing.

Sakura immediately remembered the statement of the young boy at the hospital when he had said that the red headed stranger had moved like lighting. She had thought it had all been the figment of his childish imagination… but she now realized that the boy had been right. He did move like with god-like speed.

Look at his behind when he flexes his legs, her inner person suddenly added.

The pink haired girl tried to turn her eyes away at the comment but the damage had been done. Gaara jumped up in an attempt to evade one of Lee's kicks and his gi lifted up when he was coming down. He landed in a graceful crouch in front of the raven haired fighter, giving Sakura an ample view of his rear.

She felt her hormones start to kick in immediately.

'We're leaving,' Sakura stated firmly and turned to walk back to the reception room.

No you don't! her inner voice replied mischievously, forcing her to stay where she was and to keep her eyes locked on the redheaded fighter.

Both men whirled around each other and eventually switched position. Gaara was now facing the door and Sakura ducked behind it quickly but kept peeking from the doorway. She sucked in her breath when she finally managed to catch a glimpse of his jade eyes for the first time in over a week. The intensity she had seen before was now rolling off in powerful waves form his catlike orbs and the look of determination on his face clearly spoke of his devotion to his martial art.

'Wow,' the pink haired doctor thought as she kept staring at him… she swore she had never seen a man look so sexy before.

I know, Inner Sakura added, completely enthralled by the crimson vision before them and how he moved around his opponent.

Sakura only nodded in response as she kept staring, still mesmerized.

But it ended too quickly for their liking.

"Alright, we'll stop here today," Genma-sensei said, clapping his hands so that the men would stop.

At his words, the pink haired doctor was brought back to reality with a violent jolt. She suddenly realized how precarious her situation was and knew she couldn't possibly afford to stay in the doorway of the training hall ogling like an idiot.

She quickly turned round to walk away but it was already too late.

"Sakura!" Naruto exclaimed as he caught sight of his friend and jumped forwards to greet her.

At the Raging Fox's shout, jade eyes immediately looked up towards the door.

'Naruto no baka!' Sakura cursed inwardly as she saw her friend make his way across the training hall towards her, completely oblivious to the fierce catlike eyes that were now locked on her.

"Hey!" she replied, plastering a smile on her face at her approaching friend, acting as if nothing was wrong. Fumbling inside her purse for a moment, she took out the cursed item that had brought her to the dojo in the first place.

"Here," she said with an annoyed tone. "You left it at my house last night. I just want it to be clear that I brought it over only because she can call you at any moment."

"My cell phone!" Naruto exclaimed happily. "Thank you, Sakura-chan!" And with that, he flew forwards and engulfed her in a bear hug despite her immediate protests.

"You're all sweaty, you idiot!" the pink haired doctor exclaimed in disgust. "Let me go this instant!"

But Naruto only laughed and held her more tightly.

Obviously, they had now caught the attention of the entire room and Kiba was chuckling mirthfully at the Raging Fox's antics.

"The poor woman is going to pass out from your smell," Neji commented in an appalled voice, his face serious.

"Nah, she won't" Naruto replied as he finally let her go.

Sakura punched him directly in the chest with all her might.

"Ouch," the blond protested but didn't even move an inch.

"That's for being such an idiot," she replied, panting in anger.

The blond simply kept smiling at her, knowing very well that her ire was only a passing thing. "Now, now, Sakura-chan, violence doesn't become you."

"I'll show you violence!" she exclaimed as she moved forward and attempted to bring her hands around his neck.

Chuckling at her actions, Naruto moved out of the way easily at the last moment, forcing Sakura to lose her balance. But before she could topple forwards to the floor, he brought an arm around her and lifted her up on his shoulder like a sack of potatoes in one fluid movement.

Letting out a yelp of surprise, it took the pink haired doctor a couple of moments to get her bearings. But once she did, she started pounding Naruto's back furiously with her fists.

"Uzumaki, I'm going to throttle you!" she screamed as she kept hitting him. "Life as you know it is OVER!"

Everyone in the room was laughing openly now, all except a certain red haired fighter. His jade eyes surveyed the scene with a hint of jealousy. He wasn't sure if he should go over and knock Naruto out for putting his hands on the pink haired beauty or laugh at her utter stupidity for getting herself into such a predicament.

The angry glint in her emerald eyes he had just witnessed had sent a thrill of anticipation down his spine and he had wondered how exactly he needed to pull her strings in order for her to send a punch flying his way. He didn't particularly like the familiar way she behaved around the Raging Fox and it was inevitable for his muscles to clench in irritation at the jealous impulses coursing through him. But he managed to keep them under control… it wouldn't be a smart move to engage Naruto in a fight over his female friend right now; there were better ways to let him know of his plans to claim her as his own.

He had to admit that her arrival had caught him completely off guard… but it had been in a good way. Gaara had been planning to visit the hospital exactly when she had told him, but in the end, kyokushin practice had kept him from going over, forcing him to postpone his visit to his cherry haired doctor. Having been looking forward to meeting her again, the fact that he hadn't been able to go see her had shortened his already precarious temper and he had been sulking openly for days.

And now, here she was… at the dojo. Things couldn't have been better if he had planned them out. He had been forced to cut their first encounter short due to a previous dinner appointment with the dojo's senseis and had thus walked away when they had stepped out of the coffee shop. If he had had his way, he would have ended up underneath her sheets that night. But this time, he wouldn't let her go so easily and she would come with him willingly… she just didn't know it yet.

"Come on Sakura, you know those types of threats won't work with him," Kiba said through his laughter while the pink haired girl kept cursing at her friend.

She suddenly went quiet. "Kiba, you're absolutely right." She sent threw one final punch across the blond's back and exclaimed menacingly: "Uzumaki, if you don't put me down I will never treat you to ramen ever again!"

That seemed to do the trick.

"I'm sorry, Sakura-chan, you know I didn't mean it," he replied while setting her down immediately, sounding worried. "I was just joking around."

"Hmph," she said in reply as she straitened out her clothing but didn't deign him with any further comments. He kept apologizing then, lifting up his arm to scratch his head in that oh-so-Naruto way.

The rest of the men in the room kept smiling and started going out the door towards the locker room, intent on getting a good shower after training.

Naruto stood next to Sakura, his apologies having been replaced by a stupid grin on his face. He was about to make a comment of some sort when a deep voice beat him to it.

"So, you've come to save me the trouble of going to the hospital to get my stitches removed?" Gaara asked haughtily, jade cat-eyes shining Sakura's way.

The pink haired girl fisted her hands at her sides and reluctantly turned towards him.

"No, I didn't," she replied curtly, grinding her teeth.

"Wait a minute, you two know each other?" Naruto asked, clearly puzzled.

Gaara only looked back at her with an arrogant look in his eyes, as if asking 'you haven't told him?'

Sakura ignored him completely and turned towards her friend. "This brainless twit came into the hospital the other day after picking a fight and I was forced to treat his injury."

The blond snorted out loud at that. If Sakura had been a man, she would have been in so much trouble… no one insulted the Crimson Death and lived.

Gaara was clearly not happy with it either and he glared threateningly at her, but the pink haired girl wasn't intimidated in the least.

'Stupid caveman,' she thought.

"Well, I guess I should get going now," she said out loud.

"No you don't," Gaara stated firmly. "You need to pull my stitches out."

"You can go to the hospital to do that," Sakura replied haughtily. "Besides, it's my day off."

"Like I care about that," the red head said and was about to continue when Naruto butted in.

"Oh come on Sakura, it won't take more than 10 minutes. You can save Gaara the trip to the hospital," he said, "besides, you told me last night that you didn't have any plans for today."

The pink haired girl turned the full force of her glare towards the blond. How could he team up with the egocentric red head? What the hell was he thinking?

Gaara turned to regard her smugly, crossing his arms in front of him in victory. His feline grin was covering his face now.

At a loss, Sakura breathed in deeply in an attempt to calm her rising temper. This was the precise reason why she had wanted to avoid him in the first place. "I don't have any equipment to do it here," she finally said.

"Bah, you just need a pair of tweezers," Naruto said, waving his hand in front of him like if it were nothing. "Lee has some in the locker room… you know, for his eyebrows and stuff."

For the second time that day, Sakura felt the urge to strangle her blond friend to death.

"I'll take a shower first then," Gaara replied conceitedly as he started to make his way out of the training hall.

"Come with us then," Naruto said, taking Sakura by the arm and leading her down the hall.

"I am not going into the locker room!" she hissed at him.

"Oh don't exaggerate," the blond said while rolling his sapphire eyes at her, "it's not the first time you've been in there."

Sakura opened her mouth to protest but she suddenly heard a loud snort coming from the insufferable red head walking in front of them. She glared daggers at his back but he didn't seem to be affected at all.

If she managed to get through the day, she swore she would never do a favour for Naruto again.


Sakura sat on the bench in the middle of the dreaded locker room holding Lee's tweezers in tightly her hand while she waited for the egocentric Gaara to come out of the shower. Thankfully, almost all the men that had been practicing had already finished cleaning up and had left. Only Neji and Kiba remained and they had finished dressing by now.

Kiba was talking animatedly to Naruto, who was sitting next to Sakura, and the pink haired girl tried very hard to concentrate on what they were saying. But her mind kept going back to the arrogant red head she would be forced to treat soon and her body was reacting in annoyance and anticipation at the same time.

No one in her life had been able to get on her nerves in such a way before and every single time he spoke to her, the overwhelming urge to throttle him until he lost consciousness would invade her whole body. But at same time, she couldn't forget how he had looked when he had been training and the intensity shining in his eyes while he fought wasn't something she could not easily discard. She had never seen such pure and committed passion before and she vaguely wondered if he would give the same devotion to the woman he chose as a partner.

Her thinking was brought to an abrupt halt however, when the aforementioned kyokushin fighter made an appearance in front of them, wearing only a pair of dark jeans and a towel around his neck. His dripping wet hair was as messy as it always was and he ran a hand through it in an attempt to keep it away from his eyes as he approached.

Inner Sakura suffered from a spontaneous nosebleed right there and then.

The pink haired doctor breathed in deeply, refusing to be affected by the man coming her way. She wouldn't be intimidated by the body of any male and she refused to stare at him like an air-headed teenager.

"Yosh, you're finally out," Naruto exclaimed, standing up and stretching as Gaara came to stand next to them. "I'm going into the shower then."

"We'll see you guys later," Kiba said, shouldering his backpack and making his way towards the door. Neji did the same and waved farewell while falling into step behind him.

"Bye guys," Naruto exclaimed as he picked up a towel and headed towards the showers.

Sakura suddenly found herself in the situation she had both desired and dreaded: she was now completely alone with Gaara in the room.

He sat down next to her, taking the towel off his neck. Leaning forward, he rested his right elbow on his knee, giving Sakura a clear view of his upper arm where the stitches she had sewn were sticking out.

"Better get this over with," he told her smugly, smirking her way.

'You're a professional girl, remember that' Sakura told herself, strengthening her resolve. She leaned forward and grabbed his arm carefully, bringing the tweezers up to the injury. She observed it carefully, making sure it the skin had healed properly. In the position they were sitting in, the pink haired girl found that her face was only inches away from his when she bended forward and she felt instantly uneasy. His smell wasn't helping either; the shower fresh scent of his shampoo was invading her nostrils along with an aroma that could only be described as masculine. It was driving her senses completely and utterly insane.

Grinding her teeth, the pink haired doctor forced herself to concentrate on the task at hand and started to pull out the stitches, vanishing everything else from her mind.

But he wouldn't have it that way.

When she had pulled out a few of the sutures, Gaara flexed his arm on purpose and Sakura could feel the muscle in her hand harden until it was outlined perfectly in front of her eyes.

Inner Sakura proceeded to faint at the feel of his bicep between her fingers.

But as quickly as he had flexed it, the red head relaxed his arm again.

Sakura turned threatening emerald eyes up towards him in warning but she was met by such a mischievous grin that she was forced to return to her work immediately.

But as soon as she continued to pull the stitches, he did it again.

"Could you stop that?" she asked, clearly aggravated.

"Stop what?" Gaara asked, feigning innocence.

"That thing you're doing with your arm."

"What thing?" the red head asked.

"Urggh, never mind," Sakura replied in exasperation as she bent down towards his injury once more.

He flexed his arm again, dispersing her concentration completely.

"Stop it!" she said, stumping her foot on the floor.

"It's a nervous tick," he replied, his feline grin intensifying.

"A nervous tick?" she asked, clearly unconvinced.

"Yes, you're making me nervous. Do you think I'm going to trust in your medical abilities?"

"I'm an amazing doctor," Sakura replied angrily, emerald fire spewing from her eyes at his comment.

"Says who?" Gaara asked, thoroughly enjoying the fiery spark in her green orbs.

"Why you little…" she said heatedly and instinctively lifted her hand to punch him on the shoulder for his insolence, not caring if she poked him with the tweezers.

But the red head caught her fist easily and Sakura was forced to lean forward even closer to him. Blinking quickly, she realized that her face was a hairsbreadth away from his and her breath caught in her throat at his proximity.

Gaara's catlike smirk stared back at her. "I don't know why you want me to stop if you clearly like it," he told her, flexing his arm again. Sakura's other hand was still holding his bicep and she felt his muscles contract once more.

She flushed fiercely but wouldn't back down. "Who says I like it?"

"That blush on your face," he replied, pulling her closer to him.

She could only stare back at him with a death glare in her eyes. She couldn't believe the way he was acting! He was behaving like a freaking 10 year old.

The redhead stared at her angry face, marvelling in the way her emerald eyes sparked at him. He had wanted to be on the receiving end of her anger ever since he had met her at the hospital… she looked amazingly beautiful when she was riled up and he had known back then that he would go to any means to have her look at him like she was doing right now.

Suddenly, Sakura bit down on her lower lip to suppress the raging emotions inside her.

It was possibly the worst thing she could have done.

Losing the tenuous grip he had on his control, Gaara leaned forward in a rush and covered her lips with his, all the time holding her hand in his so she couldn't pull back.

The pink haired girl gasped in complete surprise but it was a big mistake. As soon as she opened her mouth, his tongue entered her lips and started to wreak havoc upon her senses. Not sure of what was happening, she tried to fight back but it was completely useless. All the cooped up desires she had been trying to suppress since she had met him suddenly came rushing to the surface and she couldn't do anything but surrender to his onslaught. She found herself returning the kiss without even thinking twice about it, heat spilling its way across her body like a flood.

All the fight inside of her was suddenly drowned by the sensations he was creating and there was nothing left to do but to succumb to them.

He loosened his hold on her hand when she attempted to lift her arms and he allowed her to wrap them around his neck as he turned his upper torso to face her directly. Gaara pulled her closer then, forcing her to climb half-way into his lap, his hands moving across her back, caressing her softly and causing her skin to burn hot wherever he touched her. And to think that he hadn't even gotten his hands under her shirt yet!

Not one to be left behind, Sakura brought a hand down to touch his exposed abdomen softly with her fingers, revelling in the way his muscles fluttered in response wherever her hand happened to make contact. A satisfied rumble sounded from the vicinity of his chest and the pink haired girl was suddenly reminded of the content purr of a cat.

He continued to kiss her with such intensity, Sakura thought she was going to pass out from all the wonderful feelings he was awakening in her body. But he brought the long kiss to an end by pulling back and he lifted his head so he could look directly into her face.

Staring at her flushed cheeks and swollen lips, Gaara grinned down at her, but it wasn't the predatory smirk he had before. This was a smile of complete satisfaction, of having accomplished a goal you had set for yourself.

Before she could say anything, he was kissing her again, pulling her up for her to straddle his hips so that he could hold her better while he ravished her mouth.

But reality came crashing back down on Sakura with a shocking jolt.

"Are you guys just about done?" Naruto shouted from the vicinity of the showers… his approaching steps could be heard clearly.

The pink haired girl suppressed a shriek of dread and pulled back from Gaara's mouth instantly. He released his hold on her grudgingly, an angry spark shining from his eyes at being interrupted. But Sakura was more worried about other things. Sitting back down on the bench hastily, she grabbed the red head's arm forcefully and proceeded to pull out the remaining stitches in a hurry.

Naruto appeared in front of them then, drying his hair with a towel. "I thought you'd be finished by now."

"Well, I have a difficult patient," Sakura said with a nervous laugh as she pulled the last of the sutures out.

Gaara was about make a snide remark when he caught the warning glance the pink haired girl was throwing his way. For the sake of repeating what had just happened in the near future, he swallowed his pride and kept quiet.

"There, all done," Sakura exclaimed in mock happiness.

"Gaara," Tenten said suddenly, appearing in the doorway of the locker room. "You have a call from your dojo up front."

Nodding at her, the red head stood up like if nothing had happened and made his way out of the room. Sakura watched him go with a look of envy in her eyes. How could be possibly be so calm?

"Sakura-chan, are you alright?" Naruto asked. "Your face is all red."

"Of course I'm alright," she replied with a fake smile, erupting in fit of nervous laughter. "Why shouldn't I be?"

Naruto only looked at her with a questioning look in his sapphire eyes.

Sakura gave herself a mental shake and decided that this was the perfect moment to make her escape. She really needed to regroup, to think things over calmly…too much had happened in too little time and she needed to take in the enormity of what she had just done… and she definitely couldn't do that here, not where Gaara's presence would be a constant distraction.

"Listen, I really need to get going," she told her friend, thrusting the tweezers she had been using into his hands. "I'll talk to you later."

"Sure," the blond said, cocking his head to the side while regarding her thoughtfully. "If there's anything you want to talk about, you know where to find me."

"Thanks," she said while she picked up her things. Without further hesitation, she made her way hastily towards the exit of the dojo, putting on her coat and scarf as traversed the hallway.

She passed by the front desk and saw Gaara talking on the phone but she decided to ignore him. This was the perfect opportunity for her to make her retreat: he was busy with something else and wouldn't come chasing after her.

"Bye Tenten," she said as she walked by.

"Bye Sakura!" the other woman replied happily.

The red head looked up from the phone then, eyes narrowing dangerously at the pink haired girl. But his threatening glare went completely unnoticed as Sakura walked out the door without even looking up at him and made her way swiftly down the street.

Anger churned inside of him and he scolded fiercely in the direction of her receding back.


'What the hell is wrong with me?' Sakura thought desperately as she made her way across town on foot, not paying too much attention to where she was going. She had been walking hurriedly for a while now and she didn't even know which street she was on. But she really couldn't bring herself to care.

She could only concentrate on the kiss she had just shared with none other than the egotistical Crimson Death and the effects his mouths and hands had had on her body were still coursing through her. As much as she tried, she couldn't bring herself to calm down enough so she could think straight and her mind would continue to replay the feeling of his lips upon hers over and over again.

Why are you worrying so much about it? It was only a kiss, Inner Sakura piped in.

'No it wasn't!' Sakura exclaimed in agony. 'If we had continued, we would have probably ended up doing it on the locker room floor!'

And what's wrong with that? Her inner persona asked happily, already sending images of Gaara's face in the throes of passion while she sat astride her hips.

'You're not helping!' she screamed in reply, bringing her hands up to her head in an attempt to keep her imagination at bay. 'I'm not a floozy!'

Who says this makes you one?

'I barely know him!'

So what? With the way he looks at you, you should already know he's serious about this whole thing.

'But we've only met twice.'

That doesn't mean anything.

Sakura refused to lose ground against her inner voice thus, she used all her willpower to fight down the urge to turn back towards the dojo and finish what she had started with Gaara. She really needed time to think things through, but in the state of turmoil she found herself in, she knew it would be impossible to come to any rational conclusion.

Turning towards a park she suddenly located across the street, she thought it would be favourable for her to sit a while in the cold just to see if her body decided to cool down a bit. The trees of the park were bare and the fallen leaves littered across the grounds. She made her way hurriedly down a pathway until she found a bench located to the side of the pavement. The cold wind was blowing all around and her scarf continued to dance with the breeze when she plopped down on the bench and proceeded to wallow in misery.

She really didn't know how she managed to get herself into these situations and she really couldn't understand why things could never be simple. If you looked at it logically, it really shouldn't be complicated at all. Girl meets boy, they talk, they go out on a couple of dates, they eventually kiss and then fall in love. The boy wasn't supposed to ensnare the girl in a devious scheme that would send her hormones raging and the boy wasn't supposed to throw his obviously prominent masculinity in the girl's face. It just didn't work that way.

But here she was, feeling all the emotions she had spent all week trying to fight and experiencing an overwhelming attraction towards the self-centred caveman she had sworn to avoid. Her body and her inner persona were ganging up on her and there wasn't much she could to prevent their influence from clouding her judgement.

Throwing her head back on the bench, Sakura closed her eyes as she let the freezing wind caress her face. She whimpered in frustration as the muddled thoughts she was trying to control kept whirling chaotically inside her mind.

But as it was usually the case when you thought that things couldn't get any worse, they did.

"Why did you leave?" a deep familiar voice asked from somewhere nearby, the resentment and hurt in its tone sending goose bumps all over Sakura's skin.

Jumping up slightly in shock, she opened her emerald eyes to regard Gaara standing next to the bench. He was wearing a long black coat with a dark green polo shirt underneath and the jeans he had on back in the locker room. The wind was blowing through his hair, making it stick out at odd angles and the bitterness in his jade eyes made pink haired girl's heart clench immediately.

He had never looked so handsome before.

They stared at each other for long moments, the cold breeze dancing between them. It was only after a while that Sakura realized that he truly expected her to answer his question.

"Gaara… I…" she started to say, but words failed her and she was forced to look away.

"Am I not good enough for you?" he asked cynically, the question meant to make her feel guilty.

Sakura could never have imagined that he would take her leaving in such a way… but she really should've known better. Here she was thinking that he had no regard towards the feelings of others when she had done exactly the same thing when she had walked out of the dojo. She hadn't even thought how it would affect him if she left so suddenly and now she would have to face the consequences.

"Of course not," she said, sighing in resignation. "Gaara, it's just that… well, I'm very confused."

"Confused?" he asked angrily, "what's there to be confused about?"

She looked up at him like if he had just sprouted a third arm. He really couldn't be that dense. But before she could say anything, he surprised her once again.

"I'm attracted to you and you're attracted to me," he said huffily, "where is there any room for confusion in that equation?"

Sakura opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. She wanted to refute his claim, to tell him he was wrong… but if she was completely honest, she should realize that what he had just said was absolutely and completely true. Maybe she had been making up complications in her mind just because she was scared… scared of what he might have to offer and where it might lead her. But he had just taken her whole situation and had simplified it to its very core and the pink haired girl found that it all really was as straightforward as he painted it to be.

Sighing once again, she stood up and faced him directly. "I know it may seem simple to you but there's so many things I've been thinking about and… well, they simply overwhelmed me. You're not an easy person to deal with, you know?"

He grinned at her then. "That's what makes me so charming."

She rolled her eyes. "No it doesn't," she added seriously. "If you want to have anything to do with me, you're going to have to learn to express yourself better. You can't use your strength or dominance all the time to get what you want… it simply doesn't work that way with me."

Jade eyes surveyed her then and he realized she was serious. "Point taken," he finally admonished.

"Good," she said, bringing a stray strand of short cherry hair behind her ear.

"And you can't simply walk out on me," he said finally, his gaze hurtful again.

Sakura breathed in deeply. "I promise I won't do it again."

They stared at each other for a long time, emerald lost in catlike jade while the wind continued to blow all around them, rustling the leaves on the ground.

After a while, Sakura shivered and she rubbed her arms to try to warm her limbs. Gaara was beside her in an instance, engulfing her in an embrace.

"We should get out of the cold," he told her, rubbing her back. "We should go back to your place."

"It won't make much of a difference," the pink haired doctor replied miserably. "My heater's broken."

"Who says we'll be needing it?" he told her arrogantly just before his lips covered hers in a smouldering kiss. Warmth started flooding through her instantly and Sakura felt a blazing inner heat make its way from the ends of her fingers to the tips of her toes.

He's right you know, we really won't need a heater, Inner Sakura added, immersed in utter bliss.

'I completely agree,' the pink haired doctor replied as she entwined her fingers in his coat and pulled him closer.

And we're done! (throws confetti)