15. Both of Them

"Sakura-chan! You were summoned too?" Naruto's blue eyes were wide and frankly worried as they paused before the entrance of the Hokage's building. "Could he have-?"

"I don't think so," Sakura replied, pushing away niggling doubts. Sasuke had told her he would see her today, and one thing he'd never bothered to do was lie.

But for Tsunade-sama to summon them in the middle of breakfast meant there was definitely something up. And much as he obviously desired her, the way they had been together would represent a loss of control to Sasuke, a thing he hated. Sakura had found the...rawness more than a little disturbing herself, the way she'd been so oblivious to anything but touching him. They'd been wide open to attack.

"What do we do if he's gone?" Naruto asked, voice tight.

Sakura gave him a quick, professional survey out of the corner of her eye. Between Jiraiya-sama's death and the Kyuubi's increasing presence, Naruto was struggling to maintain his natural buoyancy. Losing Sasuke again was a blow he did not need.

"We hunt the Akatsuki," she said pragmatically. "And see whether removing the source of the problem works. Just telling him not to hate never will. You can't just stop hating someone, any more than you can stop loving them, and Sasuke-kun hates someone he loves. No matter how much he cares about us, that's not ever going to go away."

"If he does leave again, I vote we go back to the pummel him till he gives in option."

"Works for me." Because if that happened, she really would want to hit him.

With one of his careless knocks, Naruto flung open Tsunade-sama's door, then caught his breath.

Only one person in the room, in the process of fastening a Konoha forehead protector. He glanced over his shoulder at them as he tightened the knot, then nodded. "Naruto. Sakura."

"S-sasuke..." Naruto took a step forward, looking like he didn't trust himself to joy. "You - does this mean you're not an avenger any more?"

"No." The word was flat, accompanied by a frown, but his black eyes softened in face of Naruto's painful confusion. "My father told me, long ago, not to follow after my brother. And I've done nothing else, since." He tilted his head slightly. "Seems to me the best way I can avenge my family is by stopping those bastards from getting their hands on you, frog-boy."

Naruto went still. Konoha's number one hyperactive ninja, prankster, class clown. When he stood like this, very straight, with a faint, crumpled smile and solemn eyes, he was not even recognisable as the same person.

"Welcome home, Sasuke," he said, and held out his hand.

"Glad to be back."

The shadow hadn't gone from Sasuke's eyes. Maybe it never would. But his smile at least touched them as he gripped Naruto's hand, and they stood looking at each other with a sense of balance and rapport Sakura would never have believed possible. Then those black eyes slid in her direction, and he added: "No tears?"

The moment broke. Naruto scrubbed a hand through his hair, blinking and grinning, while Sakura decided perhaps she preferred Sasuke without a sense of humour.

"Ah, I hear Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto said and dashed back out into the corridor. Sakura suspected he was buying himself a moment to recover, because he was close to tears himself, and wasn't quite ready to try out the bear-hug he obviously wanted to give his once-lost friend.

Sasuke turned to Sakura, gaze growing intent as he looked her up and down. Examining her clothing, she realised when he said: "Wear the jacket. I gave it to you for a reason."

She hadn't misinterpreted the gift, then, and felt faintly dizzy before recovering enough to respond. "I wore it to bed." Her lips curled at the corners. "Just the jacket."

It was possible to make Uchiha Sasuke blush, and then of course he was annoyed about it. "You're going to drive me insane, aren't you?"

"Oh, hell, yeah," she said softly, then reached behind him and drew the Haruno circle between his shoulder-blades, meeting his frown with a wicked grin. He caught her hand, but before he could respond there was a soft cough from the door.

"Maybe we should come back later?"

Kakashi-sensei had lifted up his forehead protector in a pretence of surprise, but she could see him smiling beneath his mask. Naruto was outright smirking, and Sakura reached out and took his hand as well as Tsunade-sama came in through the other door.

Turning, she tangled her fingers tightly with theirs and smiled brilliantly at her master.

"Team Seven, reporting for duty."

---

Gratuitously Excessive Author's Notes:

Well, that's the final chapter of "Something I Can Do", having taken it to the point of Team Seven reunion (the most satisfactory point I could aim for, since I wasn't going to try and actually complete the manga's plotline). I seem to have written Sasuke as borderline psychotic, but otherwise I tried to keep within character and the possibilities of the plot as it's laid out. I am very doubtful that this is how all those plotlines will be resolved (there would surely be about forty chapters of fighting included, for a start).

I wrote this fic after re-reading the whole manga end to end, which was a huge mistake just before these weeks of no chapters over the New Year. It was basically my attempt to get the story out of my head so I could concentrate on something, anything else. [I had to put my poor fictionblog character in a coma for the duration. ;; (For those who asked, the only other writing I have on the net is a fictionblog the link of which I don't seem to be able to post here - try googling "Cass Devlin Fallen Out of the World" and you'll probably get something. However, it doesn't in any way resemble the writing style I used for this story, being more an experiment in diary development than anything remotely resembling good writing.

Anyways, thanks for the feedback and the reviews and various nice things said. Reader response is definitely the cherry on the writer's creamy cake. I'm not likely to do any further fanfic in the near future, but will definitely add any to this site should I be struck with the urge again.

-k

Questions and Comments:

- The 'something' Sakura does turned out to be a hell of a lot of different things, not least keeping Sasuke alive in the first place. But I think the one thing which was key was walking away from him on that dock. Sasuke's such a control freak.

- Someone asked earlier, what happened with Itachi. "Back on his leash" is the best I can give you. I've never been able to quite decide how willingly Itachi went to darkness. I think he did get caught up in arrogance, that he suffered a lot from the jealousy of those he constantly surpassed, and that he was a lot nicer to Sasuke than he must have been to anyone else. But at one point he was obviously an incredibly kind person, so I'll stick to my theory that "something got to him" (the Dark Side, presumably).

- Sasuke seems to feel a little (not too much) personal responsibility for Hebi. I imagine he would at least try to find out what happened to Suigetsu and Karin (which should lead to some priceless Sakura/Karin moments). Juugo threatened to take over the plot for a while there – Sakura made a very positive impression on him.

- Sai was going to make an appearance, but was stifled due to potential penis jokes. I can't see Sakura and Naruto wanting to give up this new friend, and would try to keep hold of him somehow. Sasuke will remain unimpressed.

- Pairingwise, I became more fond of Hinata while writing this. I do think she should stop dressing to hide her figure (without necessarily dressing like Ino). So far as I can tell, Naruto simply hasn't noticed she's female. ;) The idea of Hinata feeling for him seemed to prompt a considerable maturation in my version of Naruto, since his response was not simply to feel complimented, but to be uncharacteristically self-doubting and then protective. Does Hinata like ramen? Only time will tell. ;)

- Gosh I like Naruto when he gets all mature. I think of them as 'Minato-moments'.

- SasuSaku is so strong throughout the manga that I would be really shocked and disappointed if it wasn't followed through, but I doubt it will be as quick and easy as this. I think I write Sakura a little stronger than she's usually portrayed – good relationships are best with some kind of equality, so I wanted to establish a pattern of Sakura standing up to Sasuke (and humanising him more as a result). Most of all I wanted to write Sakura as consistently smart, rather than just occasionally being allowed to think. [And, yes, Sasuke seems to consider his coat as an open declaration that Sakura belongs to him. Mine, indeed.

Songbird21: The frog referred to is the key which Jiraiya was carrying around, which he removed and sent to 'store itself in' Naruto just before the Pein battle.

Chapter titles, etc:

Many of the chapter titles were references to songs or other allusions (because, hell, who says fanfic can't be pretentious?). For those trying to remember where you heard it from or trying to figure out what on earth it had to do with the chapter:

Chapter 3: (post-floor smashing)

ani di franco – Swan Dive

"That jumping is easy

That falling is fun

Right up until you hit the sidewalk

Shivering and stunned."

Chapter 8: (in many ways this reminds me of the Akatsuki's aims)

The Second Coming – William Butler Yeats

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

[..."

Chapter 11: (Tsunade and Sakura chat).

A reference to the proverb of giving a person enough rope to hang himself. I do wonder if Konoha has any ANBU capable of following Sasuke about without him noticing. And how long they kept it up. And if they had a camera... :D

Chapter 13: (Uchiha bonfire)

Pictures of You – The Cure

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you

That I almost believe that they're real

I've been living so long with my pictures of you

That I almost believe that the pictures are

All I can feel

Remembering

You standing quiet in the rain

As I ran to your heart to be near

And we kissed as the sky fell in

Holding you close

How I always held close in your fear

Remembering

You running soft through the night

You were bigger and brighter and wider than snow

And screamed at the make-believe

Screamed at the sky

And you finally found all your courage

To let it all go

Remembering

You fallen into my arms

Crying for the death of your heart

You were stone white

So delicate

Lost in the cold

You were always so lost in the dark

Remembering

You how you used to be

Slow drowned

You were angels

So much more than everything

Hold for the last time then slip away quietly

Open my eyes

But I never see anything

If only I'd thought of the right words

I could have held on to your heart

If only I'd thought of the right words

I wouldn't be breaking apart

All my pictures of you

Looking so long at these pictures of you

But I never hold on to your heart

Looking so long for the words to be true

But always just breaking apart

My pictures of you

There was nothing in the world

That I ever wanted more

Than to feel you deep in my heart

There was nothing in the world

That I ever wanted more

Than to never feel the breaking apart

All my pictures of you

Chapter 14: (scene on the dock where Sasuke once learned katons)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend

I've come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping

Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence

---

Thanks for reading.