"Hai, Tsunade-sensei." The young Chuunin's feminine voice whispered, bowing politely to her mentor before backing from her office and closing the door. She sighed and ran a hand through her soft pink hair, fingers lingering a moment upon the choppy and short ends, a small memory of her long hair coming back to her. Groaning, she pushed herself off the Hokage's door and walked quietly down the hall with her gloved hands by her sides stoutly. She still hadn't got that jutsu right, the stupid healing one, and she had wasted another dead fish.

'What's wrong with me?' she thought to herself, jade eyes sweeping over the halls as her white skirt twirled upon her black shorts with each step. 'I haven't been myself since…Sasuke-kun…' Great…now she was getting herself depressed. She needed something to get her mind off of things; take away the pressure of everday life. But Naruto was probably out causing Kakashi grief somewhere, and she hadn't heard from Ino since she went with Anko to decipher Akatsuki letters. Lee had long gone went with Gai and Neji to run errands at a farm, and Tenten was off practicing her weaponry somewhere. Hinata and her team were still taking care of Kurenai ever since Asuma had passed on, and Chouji was probably running Ino's shop for her.

'Then that leaves Shikamaru…Yeah. He's never doing anything anyways, the lazy bum. I'm sure such a genius can come up with a method of relief.' She smiled lightly to herself, not truly knowing why, just that she had the sudden urge to smile. Shikamaru was nice to her, helping her after Sasuke had left, and had even spoken to her when Asuma had first passed. Sakura had healed his wounds after Hidan's death, and since then the two had actually been good friends. With a nod to herself, Sakura used an open hand to push the door before her open, and took a deep breath of the Konoha air.

x-x-x-x-x

A breeze lightly brushed over the fields, a certain lazy boy laying in the middle of one upon a gently sloping hill. His eyes were closed, hiding the obsidian pupils, and his hair was in its normal ponytail, pressed against the green grass for a beautiful contrast of green and raven. His earring glinted slightly in the sky, only a few clouds in the sky. That was why he was napping. Being a shinobi, he was always alert, but he was still relaxed. Darkness and clouded thoughts swirled within his mind, arms behind his head creating a quite comfortable pillow.

As he swallowed out of reflex, a single eye opened to see a certain pink haired shinobi dwalling over him. She grinned, waving before giving a honey glazed, "Hiya, Shika-kun!" Though normally Shikamaru hated that abbreviation, it sounded so sweet when she said it, that how could one not let an innocent girl use it? He smiled whether he had planned to or not and gave a slight nod to have her sit next to him.

As she plopped onto the ground, a peaceful silence engulfed them, and he closed his eyes again, memories of a different type than Sakura's coming into his mind. The two had spent so much time together lately…things had become natural between them. But it was a different type of natural. More like a…natural that you can only find in the inhabited areas of the world. The rare kind. But that didn't mean he regretted it, it just confused him so much.

Yes. Konoha's Genius, was confused by girls. They were always just troublesome entities to him. Just people put on earth to cause problems in his life. There was Yamanaka Ino, such a whining, bossy girl, that it was hard to be around her unless you were used to it. Then you had Sabaku no Temari, more bossy than Ino, and more violent than any of the men in Konoha. He had a doubt that the woman had ever even owned a purse like the ones Konoha women carried. Then there was Haruno Sakura. But the thing was, and this being the thing that confused him, he couldn't find anything troublesome about her. Then again, that in itself was troublesome to him. The fact that her troublesome side was so inapparent that it was troublesome to figure out this girl wasn't troublesome!

'…Ow…That hurt.' He thought, referring to the fast paced and highly confusing thought train that had passed. Within moments, Sakura had propped herself to her elbows, and glanced at the sky.

"Shika-kun…Do you think Sasuke-kun is returning?" She muttered, her voice full of a hidden sorrow. Shikamaru opened his eyes, turning his head on his arms towards her, a slight pang sounding in his mind. For some reason, he never liked talking about the Uchiha boy with Sakura. With Ino, he could care less, but when Sakura mentioned him, and how much she missed him, how she wished he would come back, it hurt; it hurt him to talk about that. But it wasn't supposed to hurt, was it? What was it that caused that small papercut along his finger as he turned the pages of Sakura's personality?

Sasuke. He wasn't her Sasuke. And that bothered him a lot.

"…I…I don't know, Sakura-chan." He spoke truthfully, a slight irritated sigh emitting from his throat as he closed his eyes towards the sky. Within moments, a slight hiccupping sob was heard, and before he could open his eyes, a weight had sounded hard on his chest. He opened his eyes wide, to focus them upon a blob of pink, and two hands gripping at his Flak jacket. Sakura was this upset? Over that boy?

At first, not knowing what to do, he sat there staring at her heaving back, and feeling her tears begin to soak through his vest. This girl was a volcano of emotions, able to erupt at any time. One could never tell when she was going to get upset next, so thus it was truly hard to keep a solid support going. Sighing, he closed his eyes and sat up, hugging her lightly in an act to make her feel better.

"Hey…Hey, Sakura, no need to cry," he spoke, opening his eyes and staring at her hair with a slightly uncomfortable feeling. He shouldn't be this close to this girl…it was…strange. If someone saw, they'd for sure think the two were but a couple. Yet Sakura cried on, gripping tighter before moving her arms to hold his torso just as tightly. A grunt came from Shikamaru's throat, a blush creeping across the bridge of his nose, and his eyes widening. His fingers twitched a bit, his mind going blank and unable to echo a single thought. This was truly troublesome.

"S…Sakura-chan…Le—"

"What if he doesn't come back?! What if I'm left here and I'll have no one to care about me?! Even Naruto has gone off to pay more attention to his dreams than me! I'm being left alone…" She cried out, voice muffled slightly by the Chuunin vest as her face was still buried into the Nara's chest. A strange, hot feeling started crawling up his back, the troublesome feeling that had been showing up lately when this girl brushed his skin, smiled and grinned at him, stared at him with those sparkling jade eyes, or even squealed his name when she saw him walking down the road. But it was so much more intense now, her arms still draped around him as if he were a buoy.

"You aren't alone." He stated sternly, hating the fact she thought so. Did she not see him? Was he that unnoticeable? "Don't ever think you are alone, Sakura."

Lifting her head, she kept her grip on him yet stared at him, at his face which now showed his mouth in a firm line and his eyes hard. Yet there was caring. She sniffled, letting go of him with one arm to wipe her tears away with her black glove. Slowly, it dawned on her how childish she was being. She was crying once again over the same boy that had left her so long ago. And she thought no one cared, when everyone was right in front of her caring all along. Wrapping her arm back around him, she hugged him tightly and whispered an apology.

"Don't apologize, Sakura. Just realize that you are never alone. A lot of people here care about you. I care about you." The words just slipped of his tongue like honey in the depths of summer. Yet she didn't move, she still held him, and nodded. If anything, she squeezed tighter, and caused him to instinctively hug her back.

His eyes blankly watched the pink blob of hair he was so fond of, and a single thought rang through his head:

'I'll never be your Sasuke, Sakura…But I'll never leave you alone…' With that, he closed his eyes.