This is the second in a series of stories that were created from my previous fic, "Twenty Men." The theme number can be explained once you read it. I am proud to dedicate "Project: Twenty Men" to Aloha.Laney. She's a dear friend.

Title: Pillow
Author: Ita-ta
Pairings: KankySaku
Theme: #19
Rating: T for teenagers.
Disclaimer: All Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
Summary:He definitely made a good pillow.


Accompanying Shikamaru to Suna was a crappy idea. Haruno Sakura was exhausted.

"You alright?" The Nara genius asked, from his position ahead of her. They were travelling on foot, into the sand dunes. They had less that five hundred meters until they reached Suna.

"I'm fine," She lied, and increased her pace to match the Nara's. "How much further?" She asked.

"Not too far," He replied.

"Wonderful," Sakura muttered and they continued on in silence.

They finally reached the gates of Sunakagure in late afternoon. "Troublesome," Shikamaru stated as he realized the guards were cranky.

"Nara Shikamaru, ANBU Tactician and Haruno Sakura, head medic reporting from Tsunade-sama." He stated formally.

The guards eyed them for a moment. "Your reason for being here and papers?" One of them asked.

Shikamaru tossed the speaker a manila folder. "Visiting a friend and a mission." He stated.

The guard glanced over the papers, put them back and tossed the folder back for Shikamaru to catch. "You may pass," He stated, signaling in the air.

The gates opened and the two Konoha shinobi entered the village.

"Oh thank Kami." Sakura breathed out.

"Don't thank Him yet." Shikamaru muttered in a low voice. "We have a meeting with Gaara, another two with the ANBU, a meeting with Temari, training for an hour and then we rest." He stated.

"Since when did you become strict to the regime of the day?" Sakura asked with just a hint of whining in her voice.

"Since the Hokage dragged me into the ANBU Tactician position, friggen' troublesome as it is," He replied, rolling his eyes.

"How the hell did a lazy ass like you get into ANBU before me?" She frowned as they traveled down the dusty streets. "I mean, I have ANBU training already, I just haven't gotten around to taking the test."

"That was due to the bugging of Temari of the Sand and Tsunade-sama. Tsunade asked if Temari would want to go on more missions with me, she asked, they fussed, I was dragged into it, the rest is history." He drawled out.

"That was really precise Shikamaru," Sakura noted sarcastically.

"Glad to be of help," He said.

"You weren't any help and you aren't glad to help!" Sakura huffed.

"True but I'm ranked higher than you, yet you hold the sense of superiority over me." He retorted.

"That isn't true, you still have an air of superiority even through the lazy ass expression. Besides you're ranked higher than me, therefore you don't even need to have an air of superiority, thus your argument is not credible." Sakura shot back, a triumphant smile on her face.

"Define credible." Sakura's features darkened to a frown.

"You can't use that as an out—" Their discussion was cut short as the door in front of them opened.

"Jeez, you two freaking come to the door and stand there for five minutes arguing. I don't get that," Temari of the Sand was in the doorway.

"Battle of two brilliant minds Temari," Shikamaru growled and stepped inside.

"Thanks Temari-san," Sakura stepped into the threshold.

"You're welcome Sakura-san. How have you been?" She asked.

"Extremely busy I had brain, heart and liver surgeries yesterday so I'm exhausted. You?" The pink-haired woman smiled at her blonde-haired companion. They had become fast friends over the few days they spent together on one mission.

"Kankurou and I trained, I went on a mission in the afternoon, came back just this morning." Temari replied easily. "I'm not as tired as you though because I caught up on sleep. You should slow down Sakura, I don't want you to collapse from exhaustion."

"I'm fine, I just have to endure four meetings and training with Shikamaru. Though, the fourth and first is with you and Gaara so it should be tolerable." Sakura smiled.

They had been traveling down the hallways of the large building of the Sand Siblings residence and they had finally reached their destination.

"I'll catch up with you guys later then," Temari smiled and gave Shikamaru a wink as she kept going down the hall.

Shikamaru tinged pink and Sakura noticed, but didn't give any indication that she had. He lifted his hand and knocked on the door three times.

A quiet voice called from within the room, "Come in."

The two leaf-nin entered the room silently. The Kazekage, Gaara, sat at his desk with a bored look on his face. He looked up at them and a small smile formed on his lips.

"Sakura, Shikamaru, glad to see you." He greeted them.

"Kazekage-sama." They both said in unison.

"You're aware that we need our defenses to be updated, as such you two were requested." He said in a matter-of fact tone.

"Yes, but why did you ask for me as well, Gaara-sama?" Sakura asked him, her brows knitting in confusion. He just needed that so they would have to only request a tactician, not a medic too.

"I needed a second opinion as well and with your brilliant minds, I'm sure you and Shikamaru-san will be able to create foolproof system." Gaara answered easily.

"Ah," She said.

"Any problems getting here?" He inquired, directing his gaze at Shikamaru.

"No," Shikamaru said.

"Now that the formalities are over and done with, how has Naruto been, Sakura?" Gaara asked, a smile brightening his face.

"He's been good Gaa-chan," She grinned at the nickname she had given him awhile ago. They had been irritating each other so much one day she had come up with it. "Nearly scared the shit out of a little kid the other day by poofing next to him but Naruto's fine."

"That's good. Shikamaru you are taking care of Temari?" He asked, a slightly overprotective aura surrounding his presence.

"Yes, Gaara, quit worrying will you?" Shikamaru groaned, a bit of pink splashing his cheeks.

"Never, I am her brother." He said it with such finality that all occupants in the room knew that it was true. That didn't stop Shikamaru from muttering his trademark catchphrase.

"Troublesome," He grumbled.

"You're dismissed," Gaara stated and gave them a grim smile. "Good luck."

They nodded and left the room. They then headed down the corridors and finally out one of the entrances. They traveled down the streets to reach the ANBU headquarters. Shikamaru just pulled open the door and allowed himself and Sakura inside.

"Nara Shikamaru and Haruno Sakura reporting," Shikamaru stated to the air. They were in a small empty room. Then a concealed door slid open and they stepped inside. They were in a hall, where many nin were carrying papers or old weapons or just looking stressed out. "Jeez, it's worse than at ours." He muttered to Sakura.

"Great," Sakura said through a fake smile. "How long will these two meetings last?"

"In total, four hours." Shikamaru replied, fighting back the urge to groan.

Sakura did it for him. "Oh the thrills," She muttered.


She was exhausted. She was beyond exhausted. She decided that was the understatement of the year. Sakura just wanted to sleep. They had completed the mission with little complications and trained for two and a half hours. They decided to stay the night because they were there late enough already.

She shuffled down the hallway. She forgot where exactly her room was so she though it wouldn't be bad to just go in a room and sleep there. They surely had spare bedrooms, the house was gigantic. She reached a doorway and headed inside and took off her boots. She shut the door and realized it was dark.

Shuffling over to what she assumed was the dresser, she pulled of her skirt and her shirt, leaving her in her short and fishnet. She then felt around, finally locating the bed. She flopped on it and curled under the covers, falling asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.


Kankurou of the Sand was in an awkward situation when he awoke the next morning. Temari had exhausted him in the training area so he fell asleep in his bed. He was a very heavy sleeper on this occasion. He now was in his bed, only wearing boxers while Haruno Sakura slept on him. He cringed inwardly at how odd that sounds.

Literally, she was sleeping on him. Her head rested in the nook of his neck, half her upper biddy on his bare chest, her hand splayed over his chest. Her legs were tangled with his and her hair was tickling his neck. He could smell the strawberry shampoo easily and picked up on her jasmine scent.

She was really peaceful he noticed and wondered how he had ended up in this predicament by just sleeping. He was about to think that this sucked when she let out a sigh and her nose nuzzled against his jaw and he shivered a little.

At this moment he frowned. He didn't know why that made him shiver but it did feel a little good. He sat very still hoping not to wake her up and get a chakra-powered punch to the face.

He feared what would happen if she woke up and she realized what predicament they were in. He worried and worried and worried himself back into sleep again.

Moments later, Sakura's eyes fluttered open. She was still quite tired and she realized she was very comfortable. But when her sluggish brain finally comprehended her surrounding and what a compromising position she was in, she resisted the urge to jolt away. Instead she very slowly lifted her head away from Kankurou's neck. She then looked at him. She felt heat rush to her cheeks as she realized the proximity at which she was looking. She hovered centimeters from his face.

She then realized he didn't have any of his purple make-up on. She looked at his tanned skin, the strong jaw line and masculine lips. She saw that his face was very defined and his make-up his that. She was unconsciously leaning forward to look at a small scratch on his cheek and didn't realize she had until her lips brushed his lightly.

She flinched back but saw that he did not stir. She found herself leaning in again, this time capturing his lips with hers in a gentle kiss. His eyes snapped open, wide but returning to normal after a moment. She pulled away.

"Um, I don't know what came over me, I'm so–" She was broken off as he pulled her into a kiss.

After a few minutes he broke it. "You're sweet," He said.

"Thanks," Sakura replied a little warily.

He pulled her into a third kiss, this one longer than the others, and more lingering. When he pulled away, it was only slightly as she brushed his lips along her jaw line. "I'm tired," He yawned and place a butterfly kiss on her neck.

"Me too," Sakura yawned as shivers went down her spine.

"Want to have a nap?" He asked calmly, giving her a chaste kiss.

"Sure, we'll explain later," Sakura smiled, kissing along his jaw line.

"Alright," He smiled as she kissed his Adam's apple and nuzzled her nose against his neck. With a blissful sigh he listened to her as she fell asleep. Soon after he fell asleep as well.

One of Sakura's last thought's before she completely surrendered to the unconscious realm was, He makes an excellent pillow.