Two chapters in the same month! I'm on a roll! I hope you all are enjoying reading the story and thank you all for your reviews!


"You missed a spot."

Gaara bumped into the trashcan that was standing full next to Sakura. It swayed over and hit the ground next to her with a hollow thud, sending leftover food and crumpled paper everywhere. Sakura squealed just as loudly and jumped up from where she was trying to scrape a stubborn piece of gum off the linoleum. Gaara snickered and stepped over an empty soda bottle but his next step landed on a banana peel. In a second he was on the ground, looking at Sakura's angry face above him. She repressed a laugh with a heavy cough, trying to keep a straight expression.

"You have to clean that up, that was uncalled for!" she hissed.

Sakura glanced quickly at the rest of the room, which happened to be the lobby of the children's ward in Konoha Hospital. Several small faces peered back at her from next to their parents, whose faces were quite serious. A tiny old woman sitting in a far corner with a pleasant smile on her face seemed to be the only exception to the aura of the room. Sakura cleared her throat and looked back at Gaara. He stood up slowly and brushed a couple of scraps of paper off his pants.

"Gaara, I don't want to have to tell you aga—

"Alright, alright, boss lady!"

The redhead squatted down and began picking trash up off the ground at the pace of a turtle. Sakura played around with the idea of pushing him over when he wasn't looking but decided that it was too mean and leaned down to help him.

"No, go clean up something else," he said as soon as she had her hands full with garbage.

"Fine."

Sakura let all the garbage fall from her hands into a pile and moved away. It was getting more and more difficult for her to deal with this punk kid. She sighed and walked around the check-in counter. The janitor that normally cleaned that floor had left a list of things for Gaara and Sakura to complete every day. So far they hadn't finished anything. She concluded that cleaning the children's bathroom would be the next best thing to do. Gaara cussed loudly behind her as he almost slipped on the banana peel again. A woman with two children left the room. Sakura shook her head. The boy had no manners whatsoever. She exchanged a cautious glance with the nurse next to her at the desk before trudging away to find a mop and bucket.


It was almost 5:30 by the time the two had cleaned up the children's ward lobby and bathrooms. They had even managed to start on the geriatric ward. Sakura was busy placing and replacing things in the janitor's closet when she was knocked over by a brute force. The light's went out. There was a lot of stomping around and shuffling as she and whoever it was tangoed awkwardly in the tiny closet, trying not to get too close to each other.

"Gaara, what the hell are you doing?!" Sakura said loudly.

Gaara shushed her sharply. Sakura began to speak again but he put his palm over her mouth and shook his head. The lighting in the lobby was coming through the slats in the door. Sakura could see Gaara's side profile. He said nothing. Sakura could hear lot of far away voices becoming closer and closer. It sounded like a commotion, maybe an argument, and then it was right in the lobby. A man was yelling about somebody named Gary? Garen?

"It's my dad," Gaara finally said.

Sakura realized the name the man was shouting was Gaara's name.

"Where is that little bastard! He better get his ass home, I know he's in here!"

Several female voices, nurses most likely, sounded like they were trying to calm him down. Sakura watched Gaara's face become more and more grim. She brushed his hand from her mouth and crossed her arms.

"GAARA! GET OUT HERE!"

Sakura could tell that he had been drinking by the way he slurred his words. People were talking loudly. Someone threatened to call security. They both waited until the yelling was taken farther away. A few more minutes and everything was relatively quiet again. Sakura could tell by the soft murmuring in the lobby that several people were talking about what had just happened.

"Gaara—

Gaara gave Sakura a look that told her she shouldn't talk. She looked down at his feet. Beat-up Converse with ratty laces. She heard a rustling of material, then there was a click and a flash of light. She looked up as Gaara was about to light a cigarette, the dim glow of the flame dancing across his face.

"No, don't do it!" she exclaimed.

She dashed forward and grabbed his wrist and tried to blow the flame out.

"G-Get off me! What—no—STOP!"

He let the flame go out before it burned either of them but Sakura made a grab for the cigarette he was holding in his mouth. He jerked his head away and pushed her shoulders back. The lighter fell from his hand and clattered to the ground.

"Give that to me, you can't smoke in here and you know that!"

"Would you stop?! You're so annoying!"

"NO! Give it here!"

She began to beat her hands on his chest and then an idea struck. She immediately stopped attacking and swooped to the ground, plucking Gaara's lighter off the floor. Gaara growled something incoherent and tried to wrestle the tiny flamethrower from her hands.

"You're going to burn the whole place down! Give that back! AH NO!"

Sakura clicked the flame on and waved it around his face. He backed into one of the large wall shelves surrounding them and knocked several cans of paint onto the floor.

"Aw, damnit! Look what you made me do!"

Sakura simply held the flame closer.

"Put that out!" Gaara snapped.

"Do you promise not to smoke inside buildings anymore?!" Sakura said, trying her best to sound menacing.

"Yeah, whatever, just put that o—

"PROMISE?!"

"YES! Alright! Fine!"

The flame went out, leaving them both in near-darkness. Gaara frowned at the ground. The paint was pink, just like the lobby walls. Sakura could see, even in the faint lighting that Gaara's shoes and small parts of the bottom of his pants were now as pink as her hair. She burst out laughing and pointed at his Converse.

"Shut up it isn't funny!"

Sakura continued to laugh while Gaara stepped around tentatively in the mess and his new pink shoes. He cursed as his left foot slid forward in the paint.

"Are those—" Sakura tried to say between laughs, "Are those the only shoes you have?"

"Yeah." Gaara replied and slid forward again.

This time, he couldn't stop. Sakura grabbed his shoulders out of reflex as he tried to regain his balance and ended up inches from her face. Gaara placed his hand on the shelf behind Sakura's head. For a couple moments they faced each other in the darkness. Sakura's thoughts became faster, making her feel a bit dazed. She let go of his shoulders, which Gaara hadn't been expecting. He fell forward a little more and almost, just barely, his cheek grazed hers. Sakura felt her heart speed up. Then he pushed away and was back to standing a normal distance from Sakura.

"We should probably clean this up," he said.

Sakura nodded, still feeling slightly lost. Gaara stepped farther back into the closet and found a few ragged towels. He handed two of them to Sakura. She took them silently and they both began to clean up the floor without talking. Even when she accidentally bumped her wrist into his, he neither insulted her nor flinched away.

After a while longer, the paint was cleaned up as much as it could be. Gaara had been able to take some of it off his shoes. They exited the closet to find the lobby as bustling and oblivious as ever. Sakura began to think of the incident with Gaara's father. She remembered how Gaara's face looked when it was happening. Lifeless and stoic. The thought of giving him a hug tugged at her heart but she knew he'd respond defensively.

We haven't even known each other for that long, she thought.

She amused herself with all the possible outcomes of hugging him. What if he yelled at her? What if he made a scene? What if…he hugged her back? Sakura giggled quietly behind Gaara, who was walking farther ahead of her like usual. She caught herself. Why was she acting like that? She set her jaw and glared at the back of Gaara's head. He was the most rude, most annoying boy she had ever met. Even worse than that kid Naruto! Gaara apparently felt the holes being burned into his backside and turned around to match her glare with an even more ferocious one. Sakura narrowed her eyes at him until he turned around again. But still, she felt that pull on her heart.

Maybe another time.

They left the hospital doors and walked their opposite ways home.


What do you think so far? How about Gaara's pink shoes? Please keep the reviews coming! I read them all! :)