Title: Cold Comfort
Author: desbutterfly
Genre: gen, fluff
Pairings: SasuSaku, NaruSasuSaku
Rating: PG
Summary: Sakura shows up on Sasuke's doorstep during a snow storm and he deals with that the best he can.

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When Sasuke opened his front door to find a shivering Sakura standing on the steps, a box clutched tight in her hands, he was a bit surprised.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, wincing when the words came out more sharply than he intended.

Sakura's smile faded a bit, and Sasuke could see a bluish tinge to them. She held the box up.

"I came to give you this," she said.

"What is it?"

Her eyes widened in surprise. "Don't you remember, Sasuke-kun? At lunch today, you s-said—"

"I remember," Sasuke interrupted, cursing inwardly.

When they had all been together earlier that day, Naruto had basically implied that Sasuke couldn't say something nice to someone if his life depended on it. Never one to back down from a challenge, Sasuke had retorted that he could too be nice, and then he'd proved it by complimenting the dumplings Sakura had offered him from her lunch.

He'd been so busy smirking at Naruto; he'd somehow missed Sakura taking his non-committal grunt as assent to her tentative offer to come by later that evening with more dumplings.

The wind blew hard, sending snowflakes whipping into the house, nestling into Sakura's hair and Sasuke's shirt. He shivered and then swung the door open wider, stepping inside.

"You'd better come in for a minute," he said.

Sakura's eyes brightened and she followed Sasuke into the house, shaking the snow from her hair. She presented the box again to Sasuke, and he took it grudgingly, giving it a cursory glance before depositing it on the counter.

They stood, awkward and silent, as Sasuke wracked his brain for ways to get her out of his house without hurting her feelings too badly. He noticed her white, bloodless fingers rubbing together for warmth and frowned.

"You should be wearing warmer clothes in this weather," he pointed out.

She blinked, then stilled her fingers and gave him a nervous smile.

"I know," she said. "It's just that I was in a hurry to bring you the dumplings and I forgot…"

"It's stupid," he said, scowling. "You could get sick doing things like that, and then how would we be able to do missions?"

Her lower lip trembled and Sasuke couldn't tell if it was because she was cold, or because he was making her cry again and godammit he hated that. Outside, the wind howled and rattled the windows of the house.

"You should go before it gets worse," he said.

"Oh…okay." Her lips were still trembling. Cursing under his breath, Sasuke suddenly took off towards the storage room.

"Hold on a second," he muttered to Sakura before disappearing into the hallway. He took one right turn into a cobweb-decorated room, and searched through various boxes before coming up with a pair of white, fur-trimmed mittens stitched painstakingly with the Uchiha mon.

Sasuke held them to his cheek for a few seconds, feeling their softness, the smell of lavender and spice beneath the somewhat musty scent of mothballs. He traced the stitching carefully, remember the exact year when his mother made them, the same year their father had taken Itachi on his first trapping expedition. The fur was from Itachi's first rabbit, and mother had been so pleased…

Sasuke remembered sulking the entire day because he hadn't been allowed to go with the men.

Swallowing hard, Sasuke took the mittens in his fist and slammed the box lid shut. He left the storage room as quickly as possible, heading back to where Sakura was waiting, perched hesitantly on the arm of his couch, like she wasn't quite sure if she was allowed to touch anything.

"Sasuke-kun!" she said, standing hastily when she saw him and smoothing her dress down.

He ignored her fidgeting and shoved the mittens into her hands.

"Here," he said, brusquely, "wear these so your fingers don't fall off on the way home."

She stroked the soft fur wonderingly and he looked away.

"Sasuke-kun, I can't take this."

"It's not a gift," he snapped. "I'm just letting you borrow them, that's all."

He waited while she slid them onto her hands and wiggled the thumbs, curling the palms into fists. They're a perfect fit, the thought sliced through him like he was being stabbed and Sasuke gasped, hunching over a little.

Immediately, she was at his side, mitten-clad hands pulling at his sleeves with concern. He shook her off with a scowl.

"It's just a cramp," he muttered. "I'm fine."

He was about to suggest that she leave again, when it struck him that being alone suddenly seemed like a horrible idea. He looked at the snow sticking fast to the window panes and bowed his head, glaring at the floor.

"It's really bad out," he said. "You can…stay until the storm stops."

She smiled then, and slipped the mittens off her hands and into her pocket, where Sasuke watched them disappear with something like relief. When she placed her fingers lightly on his arm again, he let them stay there.

"Thank you, Sasuke-kun," she said.

He led her into the kitchen where she helped him make some tea. They had eaten about half of the dumplings before Naruto showed up at the door, armed with a snowball and demanding to know if they were having a date and why he was being left out.

By the time the fight was over, there was snow in Sakura's hair and down Sasuke's pants. Naruto was the worst off, since Sakura had pushed him into a snow bank while Sasuke force-fed him a snowball. They all stumbled into Sasuke's living room, soaking wet and shivering, and by the time Naruto was warm enough to stop chattering his teeth and start teasing Sakura about her new mittens, it was too late to kick them out.

Sasuke got the spare blankets out of the bedroom, along with three pillows, and Naruto and Sakura took them without question. None of them stopped to wonder why Sasuke chose not to sleep in his own bed, or why he didn't offer them the guest rooms to sleep in.

It was just assumed that they would be together, regardless of how much Sasuke complained about Naruto's snoring.

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fin.

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