Summary: Sakura must deal with her overprotective team and her one-sided (so she thinks) love for a certain dark-haired shinobi... Will a Spring Festival change some things?
Pairing: Sasuke/Sakura, Sakura/TEAM 7, minor couples
Rating: Part 1 T/ Part 2 M
Disclaimer:Of course everything related to Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto-sensei, praise his genius! OOC characters and plot do belong to me.
Warning: I am Italian, English is not my first language, please forgive my mistakes.
This is my first Naruto fanfiction (See AN at the end)
Sakura Haruno, best medic nin in Konohagakure and apprentice to the Godaime Hokage, took off her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose: she leaned back against the chair and crossed her legs, a tired sigh escaping her sightly parted, rosy lips.
She had been working for six hours straight and she wasn't in the mood of hearing her mother complaining about the fact that she was twenty-one and still single.
"You are beautiful, Sakura," her mother usually said everytime she had dinner with her parents (which fortunately wasn't very often) "...and you're one of the best ninja around here: so, why – tell me WHY –can't you find a good man? I don't care if he is a shinobi or not, I'm not forcing you into marriage either, but you can't stay single forever, or you will really end up like Tsunade-sama!"
The kunoichi didn't know how to explain to her mother her lack of relationships: it wasn't like she didn't try... but it never worked out.
Ino had introduced her to an endless list of men (Sakura was still a bit shocked by the number of people her friend knew and by the number of boys who were willing to go on a date with her, Sakura Haruno), but the options were two: or there was something wrong with guy (she could still remember with a shiver the one who kept staring at her breasts – and while Sakura liked being appreciated also for her body, that had been too much for her), or her faithful and annoyingly overprotective team would intervene.
It seemed like Naruto, Kakashi, Sasuke, Sai and sometimes even Yamato had nothing better to do than scaring away any possible boyfriend of hers: there was that time that Naruto, in a false joyful behaviour, had almost chocked Taichi, a collegue of hers, with ramen. Then, Sasuke and Kakashi with their Sharingan had managed to make a relative of Hinata and Neji, Hiroshi Hyuuga, cry, only because he had commented that she looked beautiful in her kimono.
Not to mention when Sai had painted all black Shuichi's room – well, Shuichi was an ANBU and had actually asked her out...
It wasn't difficult to understand why Sakura had given up searching for a boyfriend: not that she minded being single, it screamed freedom, but the feeling of having someone who cared, who loved her... it was something she wanted to experience.
Unfortunately, she knew she couldn't exactly lie to herself: she knew why no guy seemed to be the right one for her.
She still loved him.
Sakura Haruno still loved the ice cube of Konoha, also known as Sasuke Uchiha.
'Could I be more pathetic?' Sakura thought bitterly.
It was true that she had long stopped obsessing over him; she had also stopped asking him for dates – after his return from Otokagure at age 16 she had felt extremely embarassed thinking back at her behaviour in their genin days.
Sasuke's punishment had been indeed fair for his betrayal: for two years he hadn't been allowed to leave Konohagakure's grounds, he had been forced to do D-ranked missions for the community for a year without any possibility of training. Moreover, he had had an ANBU squad watching over him for those two years he couldn't leave the village, and after that he had been put in his former teammates' care. After three years he had been allowed to take the Chuunin Exam, only to pass it with flying colours; six months after, the Uchiha was a Jounin and a year later he had been admitted in ANBU, forming a team with Naruto, Sai and Neji Hyuuga.
The proud Uchiha hadn't been happy in hearing his punishment and more than once had showed impatience and disrespect towards the Hokage – there was one time that Sasuke had actually attacked Tsunade and had been forgiven only because the only witnesses had been Sakura and Shizune and the Godaime had found the spar 'refreshing', or so she had said.
However Sasuke had been successful in every mission and had been ufficially pardoned, even if the real reason why the Uchiha had been admitted back in the village as a Konoha shinobi was because of the Sharingan; the elders knew they couldn't afford to lose such a precious kekkei genkai.
Those two years that had him confined in Konohagakure had seen Sasuke often at Sakura's side; after all, there were few in the village ready to forgive the last Uchiha for going to Orochimaru, and in many of his D-ranked missions was needed Sakura's help - not to mention her constant guard to the dark-haired shinobi.
That didn't mean that Sasuke (Sakura didn't call him Sasuke-kun anymore, not even in her head) had changed: to her, he was almost the same ice block he was at twelve. Their relationship was a comfortable friendship: they talked sometimes, but if Sasuke really needed to talk with someone, he usually seeked out Naruto.
Hell, she didn't even know why exactly she loved him!
Sasuke Uchiha was proudly stubborn, an ice-cold jerk, a man of few words, an arrogant bastard, a handsome devil, a great shinobi, a good friend once you got to know him... Sakura sighed: ok, she knew why she loved him.
And it wasn't true that Sasuke hadn't changed towards her; he seemed to stand her, at least. Sometimes, he even smiled!
In the end, Sakura knew that inside the Uchiha was just a broken boy, deeply wounded by the massacre of his clan and his brother's betrayal; these emotional scars had healed a bit, but Sasuke couldn't trust anyone easily. Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi had done the impossible to gain his trust, and they had it; but the others still were 'on probation'.
She shook her head and looked at her clock, wearily noticing she still had two hours 'till the end of her shift: sometimes being the best medic of Konoha sucked, especially now that she had surpassed Tsunade – or so her mentor said, she still wasn't convinced.
What Sakura was afraid the most was disappointing her teacher and her friends.
Death, in a shinobi's life, was inevitable: but everytime Sakura couldn't save a life (and it really wasn't too often) she would blame herself and avoid everyone, hiding in her apartment in sorrow.
A knock on her door called for her attention: all too happy to have something else to concentrate on other that paperwork and her depressing thoughts, the pink-haired kunoichi voiced a 'Come in.'
Suzuka, her assistant, entered Sakura's office in Konoha hospital with a bemused expression on her face.
At Sakura's quizzical look, she giggled.
"Sakura-sama," she began "...in room 203 there are four men who are paralysed by poison."
Sakura still failed to see what was so amusing.
"And? Can't Kawamura take care of them?"
"Oh, trust me Sakura-sama." Suzuka smiled "You must be the one to heal them."
Sakura shrugged. "Oh well, let's go. It's better than paperwork, after all."
"What are the symptoms?" she asked, as the two women walked towards room 203. "Muscle paralysis and inability to move anything but their neck and facial muscles. Also, sometimes they have difficulties in breathing, but nothing serious. The good news is that the paralysis isn't spreading to the internal organs."
"Good." Sakura nodded. "Will you tell me what do you find so funny in a case of muscle paralysis?"
"Oh..." Suzuka grinned. "How they were poisoned..." then she whispered "...and who they are."
The other woman raised a delicate eyebrow "What happened?"
"They were walking in the forest, back from a mission... when they fell in a trap of ours!"
Sakura's eyes widened. "That's it? Are you kidding me? What are they, genins?"
"No, no... they are ANBU actually."
"ANBU? An entire ANBU team falling in one of our own traps? They must have been really careless..." she trailed off as she realized who exactly was the most careless ninja in the village. The pink-haired medic turned to her assistant "Don't tell me..." She was interrupted by the voices coming from room 203.
"Sasuke-teme, stop calling me a dobe!!!"
"And you stop calling me a teme."
Sigh. "Will both of you stop it? We are paralysed and you still have the energy to insult each other?"
"You know how stupid they are, Kakashi-san."
"SAI!!!! I'll kill you!"
"Hn. Naruto may be stupid, but absolutely I am not."
"Please Sasuke, deactivate your Sharingan, there's no need for that now."
Sakura slapped her hands in her face and groaned. "That's not possible... How stupid can they be?? Why me, why me... I'd prefer Shikamaru as a teammate any day..."
How could her teammates fall in one of their traps?? Kami-sama, they were the best of Konoha!
Sakura groaned again, then resumed walking to room 203, which was now very near.
"...it was not my fault! Teme pushed me!"
"You were acting as the annoying dobe you are."
"So, it's been quite an adventure, mh Kakashi?" said a new voice, amused.
"Please Yamato, there's no need to put salt on fresh wounds..."
Sakura grimaced: it's been two years since she had treated any of them in the hospital. Usually, they came back with just some scratches, nothing serious, and she cured them at home. She had the feeling that they weren't going to appreciate her choice of clothing at work: as usual, Sakura had a white shirt like her shishou and a short mid-tight black skirt, and over that she wore a long white coat. She prefered to leave her long hair loose, falling on her back in a silky, pink waterfall; also, her glasses, which she needed to read, hanged from a little rope around her neck.
Her black heels clicked on the floor, as she reached room number 203. Sakura took a deep breath and entered.
Naruto was growling at his best friend/rival, who was laying on the bed in front of his with his cold mask in place. Sai was on a bed near the window and in front of him there was Kakashi, who watched defeated his two former students.
Sakura just wished she could punch them all to hell... maybe they will learn not to fall in such traps! After all, they had a huge respect for her strenght.
Yamato was leaning on the wall near the door, an amused expression on his face: his eyes widened happily as he noticed her.
"Well, well, what have we here." Sakura drawled sarcastically. "A whole ANBU team poisoned by one of our traps."
Naruto, Sasuke, Sai and Kakashi stilled immediately – or, better, their mouths stopped moving – and turned their heads towards her.
"Ah..Sa-Sakura-chan!" Naruto smiled sheepishly.
"Sakura..." Kakashi continued looking defeated.
"Sakura." Sasuke greeted flatly.
"Ugly." Sai said with a smile. Sakura glared at him.
"Watch you mouth, or you will remain paralysed for a long time." She snapped.
Sai shut up immediately.
She moved her stony stare from one to another: they all averted their eyes.
"So..." she said flatly. "Are you proud of yourselves?"
"It was the dobe's fault..." Sasuke murmured.
"It was not, teme!" Naruto yelled.
"I DO NOT..." Sakura roared. "... I repeat, I do not care whose fault it was!"
Now even Yamato looked intimidated by the pink-haired medic. Sakura watched in satisfaction as they all remained quiet.
'Mh, I love having this kind of power over them.' She thought with a smirk.
Then she sighed and moved towards Naruto.
"Let's see what can we do to heal your stupid selves..." Sakura murmured.
She stilled a moment and then looked at Kakashi.
"Kakashi-sensei...why are you here instead of Neji?"
It was Naruto who answered her.
"Tsunade-baa-chan sent Neji on another mission, but we needed four elements for the team and Kakashi-sensei was there." He smiled.
Sakura nodded then went back to work.
Fortunately the medics had took their shirts off before laying them down on the beds: because of this, Sakura didn't have to cut off their ANBU vests, something that was always annoying to do.
The medic-nin passed a chakra-powered hand over Naruto's chest, searching for poison in his bloodstream: her eyes narrowed in concentration and her companions couldn't help but look in fascination as she worked.
"What?" she snapped at Naruto.
"Isn't your skirt a bit... too short?"
Sakura rolled her eyes: she knew it was coming!
"My skirt is perfectly fine, Naruto, don't worry about it and let me do my work."
Kakashi frowned, or so she believed (she couldn't see under his mask).
"I must agree with Naruto, Sakura. That skirt is too short."
"Why do you want to show you ugly legs, hm?"
The medic-nin pinned Sai with a glare. "I have great legs and you know it. And if you call me 'ugly' again, I'll be sure no one will cure your paralysis before a month passes!"
With that threat hanging over his head, Sai shut up, again.
Sasuke, on the other hand, said nothing, but couldn't help but agree with Kakashi and Naruto: that skirt was definitely too short... who knows how many perverts had looked at her long, slim legs?
Sakura resumed her work.
"Found ya." She whispered after some moments: touching Naruto's right side with a hand, and with the other cutting lightly the skin on his left side with a small knife Suzuka had passed her, she inserted her blue chakra in her friend's body. From the cut on his left side a red-yellow substance was expelled, right into Sakura's waiting hand.
She lifted her hand in front of her, observing quietly the poison: then, she deposited it in a basinet full of water.
"Shizuka. Bring me the antidote to the poison classified as PB-07."
"In your misfortune you've been lucky." Sakura said, turning towards the others. "This is not a lethal poison and is quite simple to treat." She smiled. "You'll have to spend the night here, but by tomorrow you will be as good as new."
Yamato smiled. "Yes, that's good news."
"Yay, that's great! I can't wait to eat ramen again!"
"Hn." Sasuke scoffed. "What a waste of time... I could have been training now, you know?"
Kakashi sighed relieved, while Sai just smiled that irritating smile of his.
Sakura watched them disgruntled.
"Well, don't thank me, you idiotic beasts with a pea-sized brain." She said, crossing her arms.
But they were too busy to hear her insults.
"I hate them, I hate them." She murmured under her breath, moving to heal Sasuke.
Even as he continued to ramble about training, Sasuke could help but smirk as he watched Sakura bent towards him to extract the poison from his body: it was obvious that she hadn't noticed the magnificent view her shirt gave him of her breasts.
You know, Sasuke Uchiha may be an ice block, but he too had hormones: especially if you consider that he had been – to his enormous dismay – quite attracted by his gorgeous female teammate for the past few years.
"What are you smirking at?" Sakura asked him with an arched brow.
"Nothing." He schooled his face into a blank one.
Sakura rolled her eyes and bit her lower lip. 'Why do I still love him?' she asked herself.
'I really should move on... But how can I, when they're always scaring away any possible dates of mine? Moreover, my heart won't let me forget him.'
She had just deposited Sasuke's poison in a basinet, when a nurse called from the door.
"Sakura-sama" she said, sneaking a peek at the four semi-naked men inside "The patient in room 416 is lamenting again disturbs at the stomach."
Without looking at her, but still checking Sasuke's body for remaining traces of the poison, Sakura answered her.
"Two hours ago he didn't have anything: even yesterday his stomach was fine." The pink-haired kunoichi stayed silent for a moment "I think he's only trying to get our attention and I believe he needs some psycological attention: please, contact Nishikado-san and ask him to visit him."
"It'll be done Sakura-sama."
Nurses continued appearing while she was healing Kakashi and Sai, always asking suggestions and help, also from other doctors.
"Wow, Sakura-chan!" exclaimed Naruto, with an admired look on his face. "You're really wanted!"
"Yes," she muttered, as she looked at Kakashi's orange poison. "Also for the most stupid things... it seems like they're not able to do anything before asking me."
"Sakura-sama." Another nurse called. "The President of your Fan Club wants to meet with you."
The young woman rolled her eyes exasperated, not noticing the darkening expressions of the five men in the room. "Tell him, ONCE AGAIN, that I DON'T HAVE TIME! And please, stop bothering me with such matters!"
As the nurse scampered away, slightly afraid of the annoyed medic, Sakura felt the eyes of her teammates on her.
"What?!" she snapped, while she was preparing the antidote to inject into Naruto's body.
"You have a Fan Club?" Sasuke coldly asked.
"The President is asking to meet you?" Naruto growled.
"How long has this been going on?" Yamato asked with a frown.
"What does he want?" Kakashi questioned darkly.
"Do they disturb you?" Sai said with an uncharacteristic glare.
Sakura closed her eyes and counted mentally to fifteen; then she took a deep breath, massaging her forehead with her hand.
'I knew it...I knew it.'
"Let's see: I have a Fan Club, not that I care much about it, the President is ALWAYS asking to meet me, it's been a long time since this began – I lost track of time – I don't know what he wants, usually they're all asking me to marry them or some other nonsense, and YES, they do disturb me."
She glared at them. "Now can we get over this?"
The five of them grumbled and exchanged looks: something told Sakura that her Fan Club President will have a rough time when the shinobi will be released.
She sighed, knowing there was no way she could stop them.
"Hey, Sakura-chan, I'm starting to move my arms!" exclaimed happily Naruto, waving his arms up and down to demostrate what he was saying.
Sakura laughed, smiling affectionately at the blond.
"Of course Naruto: the poison is now out of your system and with the antidote you will be able to move freely. But remember," she admonished her friends. "...don't try to walk 'till tomorrow: I'll come in the morning to check on ou, then I think you could be released."
"Thank you Sakura." Kakashi said.
Sakura smiled: 'Finally someone has the good sense of thanking me.' She thought.
She wrote down something on their medical charts, then waved at them and left the room, returning to her paperwork and hoping it was already the end of her shift.
Sasuke watched her go with a thoughtful and somewhat longing expression on his face.
Suzuka was just leaving when stopped and turned to the five males in the room:
"You know," she began quietly "...as much as you want to protect her, you have no right to keep her from having relationships with other men." And with that she disappeared, leaving the shinobi with their mouths agape.
The morning after Sakura sat in her office, waiting for Suzuka to bring up the first of her patients.
Her assistant entered with Naruto right behind her, the blonde smiling widely, even if he moved a bit robotically.
The pink-haired medic laughed at the sight. After a quick check-up Sakura smiled and gave him a medicine, saying:
"There's no more poison in your system and your muscles are starting to work again as before: keep in mind not to overdo it, I don't want to have you back in the hospital by evening, unable to move because you overstressed your muscles."
"Ok, Sakura-chan. I won't try anything too strenuous, I'll just have shuriken practice."
"Good." Sakura smiled and nodded to the bottle of medicine she had given him.
"Drink a spoon of that every three hours: you should have enough to last for two days and half. If you are in any pain come back and tell me, got it?"
Sakura watched with a smile her male best friend: he had grown up so much. Naruto wasn't the annoying guy yelling to the world that he wanted to become Hokage anymore. Yes, he still had the same life goal, but now he was an ANBU, a great shinobi renowned for his ability and power – even if sometimes he was still clumsy, as we all know. His hair was longer and messier, his once boyish face was now that of a man; but he still had the same big heart and the same fierce determination in his beliefs.
"You're going to become a great Hokage someday, Naruto." She said, looking at him with soft eyes.
"Awwwww, Sakura-chan, are you falling in love with me?" he joked, loosely wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
"Of course not, dobe." She laughed, mocking Sasuke.
"Not you too Sakura-chan!" Naruto whined.
They both laughed and she hugged him, showing her affection to the young man; Naruto watched her laugh, a smile on his own face.
She stopped laughing at the seriousness of his tone; he was slightly blushing, but looked quite determined.
"You know we all love you, right? Me, Sasuke, Sai, Kakashi and even Yamato...we all love you, each in his own way: you bring light in our life with your smile." He smiled and looked right into her eyes. "You are always there to help us, to keep us from making mistakes... but well," he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly "...we make them all the same. You always have a kind word for us, you let us cry when we need to." He looked at her, smile fading from his lips.
"Me, the teme, Kakashi-sensei and Sai grew up alone: maybe that's why we understand each other so well, because we know solitude. But you, Sakura-chan, you weren't alone like us: and that's why we are attracted to you, by your cheerfullness and strength."
Naruto lowered his stare.
"You have been my first serious love, Sakura-chan. You are one of my most important people."
"Naruto..." Sakura hesitated. "I know: and you know that you're my dearest friend... you're like a brother." She smiled. "Why are you telling me all this?"
"Naruto." She narrowed her eyes threateningly.
"Ah-ah, well... you know..." he mumbled in fear. "Something your assistant said yesterday made all of us reflect a bit. We're always trying to protect you... you are precious to us, we don't want to lose you."
Naruto took her wrists in his. "We are afraid someone is going to take you from us: we don't want you to leave us!" he exclaimed loudly, startling her.
"No, let me finish, Sakura." No '-chan'? This was serious.
"We are selfish, we know: but after all of this years knowing you, having you near us... we don't want to remain alone." Naruto seemed to be struggling for words. "You are our only female friend and you are most important, to all of us." He emphasized the 'all'.
"Even to Sasuke, you are an important person."
Sakura closed her jade eyes, trying to block the pain in her heart just from hearing his name.
"No, Naruto." The blonde looked at her quizzically. "You and Kakashi-sensei are important to Sasuke: I'm just like Sai to him..." she smiled bitterly "...an annoying person he is forced to be with."
"Sakura..." the young ANBU took her face into his hands, touching her forehead with his, "...Don't be fooled by his cold appearence: I can see it in his eyes, what he feels for you. I don't think he exactly know himself what these feelings are... but you're not an annoying person anymore." He smiled. "I can sense the longing he feels around you... I know it well, since..." and his smile turned bitter too "...since I felt the same thing when I was still in love with you."
Sakura said nothing: she couldn't have opened her mouth even if she wanted. The medic-nin just looked at her dearest friend, amazement, longing, love and doubt all reflected in her beautiful eyes.
"Naruto..." she murmured, biting her lower lip "I still am not convinced. I can't afford to let myself believe: my heart is too fragile right now, it's been broken too many times."
He just smiled at her sadly. "I want you to be happy, Sakura-chan. I hope Sasuke-teme will soon see what he had had for all these years." With that the young man turned and exited the room, limping a bit, leaving the medic-nin to nurse her bloody lip, which she had bit too deeply.
Next came the Devil himself: Uchiha Sasuke strode in her office with his usual 'I-don't-care-about-anything' expression in place. Sakura took a look at his face and then thought flatly, 'Yeah, right... Naruto is really stupid if he thinks I believe that Sasuke feels something for me.'
She rolled her eyes at herself for that: she didn't want to be heartbroken anymore.
The young medic went on the same routine as she did with Naruto: after making sure that no poison was in his body anymore, she warned the dark-haired Uchiha against overstressing his muscles and gave him the medicine.
Sakura allowed herself to rest her eyes a bit longer on the slim, lean physique of her former crush, admiring his toned abs and the strong line of his back. Then she closed her eyes, leaving Sasuke to put on his ANBU black shirt.
How could someone so beautiful and perfect be a complete asshole and ice cube, she really didn't understand.
But what Sasuke did next, completely shocked her.
"Sakura." He called, and Sakura sucked in a breathe just from hearing her name come from his lips.
"Yes?" she asked with a curious look, turning her head over her shoulder to look at him.
Sasuke stood up from the bed he had been visited over and went to her; after a moment of hesitation he grabbed her left wrist and turned her to him.
The pink-haired young woman watched him surprised: this kind of action was completely uncharacteristic of Sasuke, who usually shied away from human touch.
"Sasuke?!" Sakura questioned, embarassed.
He still looked hesitant.
"Sasuke, what is it?"
What he said came out in a breathless whisper.
"Don't leave us."
"Don't leave us." His voice was stronger now, and he was actually looking in her eyes more than the grasp his hand still had on her wrist: his stare unnerved and made her feel warm... there was something in his dark eyes that hypnotized her.
"Don't leave me."
Everything happened in an instant and Sakura didn't even had the time to reciprocate: Sasuke's arms circled her shoulders, pulling her in his embrace. Her back stiffened, as her jade eyes widened in atonishement, her long fingers grasping the material of his shirt over his chest to regain her balance. He buried his head in the crook of her neck, then released her with a red face, running out of her office.
Sakura was left with a gaping mouth and a blushing face.
"What the hell had just happened?"
The young medic couldn't help but think about Sasuke's strange behaviour as she visited Sai: everything she did or say to the black-haired nin was done with a dazed look on her face and Sai frowned.
"What's on your mind?"
"You're completely out of it."
Sakura smiled sheepishly as she gave him a bottle with the medicine.
"I'm sorry Sai, I'm just a bit tired." 'And confused' she added in her mind.
Sai frowned again but said nothing and stood up to put on his shirt, as the young woman wrote something on his medical chart.
"Ok, you're free to go." She said with a smile.
The ANBU smiled too.
"Sakura." She faced him. "Thank you for everything you did for me in these years."
The pink-haired woman tilted her head to the side. "I did what a friend would do."
"Yes." Sai agreed. "But not many would have done it for me."
Sakura smiled and squeezed his hand.
"Don't worry about it. We're friends, aren't we?"
Sai blushed a little at the contact, then looked at her straight in the eyes.
"I won't call you ugly, never again."
The medic raised a brow in surprise.
"Actually, you're really beautiful Sakura."
With that he kissed softly on her cheek and exited the room.
Sakura, once again, found herself standing in the centre of the room, a gaping mouth and eyes wide open in wonder.
"What the hell was in that poison??"
"...so you're actually head of the department, now?"
"Yes, Tsunade-shishou trusts me enough to put me in such an important position and I don't want to disappoint her."
"I don't think you would ever disappoint her, Sakura."
"You're really kind, Kakashi-sensei."
"Sakura," he watched her with his only visible eye, "...you know I'm not your teacher anymore."
She shrugged, "Force of habit, I suppose."
It was nice to talk like this with Kakashi: he was actually the only one who seemed interested in her work, and was always asking her about her job and her progresses.
"I'm not your student anymore, too." She said this cheerfully, but stopped as soon as she noticed the sad look on his face.
He emitted a forced laugh.
"Yes, you're not my student anymore." The copy-ninja sighed. "How long it's been? Since we've known each other?"
"It is nine years, almost ten, Kakashi." Sakura answered with a soft look.
"It's a long time." The man nodded. "And you're not that weak, love-sick girl you were at twelve."
He sighed again and looked out of the window of her office.
"I miss a bit those times, you know Sakura? At first I found you all annoying, but then... I guess you grew up on me." His gaze softened, "We had fun as Team 7, don't you think?"
"Yes, we had a lot of fun... there was always our routine: Sasuke, me and Naruto arriving to the bridge, then waiting for you..." and her former sensei received a glare, to which he answered with a chuckle "...and going to our D-rank or C-rank mission."
The medic sat down next to the older man.
"It was all so simple, so...so...not complicated." She whispered.
"But then..." Kakashi slowly began "...the Chuunin exam happened. And Sasuke was bitten by Orochimaru."
"Yes. But you know Kakashi..." she straightened her back, a determined look on her face. "...I'm actually happy that we did that Chuunin exam: we met so many people and made so many friends..." 'Ino, Lee, Kiba, Shikamaru, Hinata, Tenten, Neji, Chouji, Shino, Gaara, Temari, Kankuro...' "...and even if we met our enemies..." 'Kabuto, Orochimaru' "...I'm happy you made us participate in it. I became stronger, and I'm quite sure that Orochimaru would have reached Sasuke in a way or another."
Sakura lowered her gaze to her hands in her lap.
"And, even if I didn't want Sasuke to leave Konohagakure... I had the chance to train under Tsunade-shishou." Once again she raised her head proudly. "Naruto trained with Jiraiya. Also Sasuke did under that snake pedophile, and I must reluctanly admit that he did teach some interesting things to Sasuke."
The young woman turned to look at her former sensei.
"Team 7, who had been trained by the famous Hatake Kakashi, was also trained by the Legendary Sannin." Sakura smiled widely.
"And you surpassed them, Sakura, you all did."
She laughed. "Yes, we did."
They stayed silent for a moment, both enjoying the lukewarm breeze which entered the open window, the sweet smell of daffodils and sakura blossoms spreading in the room.
"You have matured." Kakashi suddenly said, watching her affectionately.
The pink-haired woman blinked and then laughed.
"I'm twenty-one now, Kakashi." Her eyes twinkled in amusement. "Almost twenty-two, to be precise. Of course I am different from my twelve years old self." She stood up and stretched her arms.
"C'mon, I'll give you your medicine and then you can go rest at home."
Kakashi smiled and stood up too; grabbing the bottle she extended to him, the shinobi took off the cloth on the lower part of his face, brushed away her pink bangs, lowered his head and gently kissed her on the forehead.
"Thank you, little sister. I'll see you in four days at the Spring Festival."
And with a small wave he disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
OVERPROTECTIVE PART 1 - End
Author's Note: this was supposed to be an one-shot, but after the 20th page I decided to split it in two.
Contrary to what you must think, this is my first Naruto story: I wrote it last winter before posting Anthology's first chapter – that's why you may find the style a bit different from how I usually write.
This fanfiction is already finished, so I'm going to post PART 2 soon.
I hope you enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please, don't forget to REVIEW!