When Haruno Sakura drags herself home to her single-bedroom apartment, well into the midnight hour, the last thing she wants to deal with after a grueling double-shift is one Uzumaki Naruto. But the world doesn't always work the way she wants it to.

In the absence of a street light, he looks at first to her unadjusted eyes like an overstuffed sack of the neighbor's laundry mistakenly slumped against her doorframe. She's annoyed that again their belongings (crap) have spilled over onto her side of the walkway, but not so annoyed that she's contemplating actually removing it. She'll ignore it, step over it and into the cool sanctuary of her interior, hope it will be removed by the time she re-emerges the next afternoon, otherwise forget it.

But as she mounts the last step to her entryway platform, palm lingering against the stairwell's splintered railing, she pauses, dilated pupils lingering as she takes a better, longer look. She nearly screams at the shock—how unprofessional, she would scold herself if she weren't too busy tripping forward and tumbling to her knees at her teammate's side. Her knees are wet, soaked through the white stockings instantly where they've touched down against blood saturated floorboards, and the full horror of the situation stabs in her chest like a twisting scalpel.

Resisting the urge to shake him, she gently cups a hand to his face. She is afraid to touch a hand to the fabric over his stomach because she knows from experience what that dark patchiness means. Besides, his hand is already resting there, pressing over the wound.

"Naruto." She smacks at his jaw now, can't think about the possibility that he might not wake up. "Hey. Come on, babe."

The only scenario she can imagine is that he's been attacked and beaten, dumped at her doorstep as a way to get back her. But who are her enemies? Who would hate her this much to do such a horrible thing? Maybe, she thinks, her Shishou's enemies would. Maybe she is next.

It doesn't matter if it's a trap; she can't stop smacking his face. She doesn't have time to glance around or draw a weapon—she can't take her eyes off of him.

Finally, after a few seconds—when she's just about to break the cardinal rule and shake him relentlessly by the shoulders—Naruto flutters his eyes and groans at her.

The flood of relief is almost too much.

When he looks at her, his eyes are such a dark blue, barely distinguishable in the shadows. She watches as they seem unable to focus on her face, rather he's looking right though her—behind her, scanning the area around them, looking for the enemy perhaps? For a moment it's like she isn't even there, and that frightens her more than anything.

"I guess I fell asleep," he croaks, finally.

"What happened?" Her voice is too loud, too panicky as she fumbles for her fallen keys—she's got to get him inside, assess the damage before it's too late. What is wrong with her, that she's taken so long to come to this conclusion? Where have her wits gone that she's yet to rush him to the hospital?

She's hefting him by the underarms when he says, "Didn't want to check into the ward—Baa-chan would be pissed with me, so I decided to wait here for a bit this afternoon."

"This-this afternoon?!" She almost drops him as she squawks her disbelief. Anyone else would be dead by now. And at the thought she hugs him tighter to her chest, forcing the door open and waddling them both inside.

Her heart is thundering in her ears, sounds like the rushing of a river.

She can feel his arms slip across her back which is a good sign. "Don't be mad at me," he says.

He sounds so childish, but he's not actually whining—too tired perhaps, and she doesn't bother to answer, all professional (desperate) concentration as she lays him atop the kitchen counter and starts tearing at his clothing. She's left her medical kit and purse outside the gaping entranceway so she'll have to go back for them. But first she wants to see it, ascertain the danger with her own eyes and hands, probe him with her trusted chakra. (Eyes and hands can lie, but chakra always, always lays out the cold truth of the matter.)

He cringes and tries to curl in on himself at the sudden uninvited sting of icy chakra in his stomach's gash, hates the fact that his seal has risen and is visible against his bleached skin—rent in two by the wound—even in the lack of overhead light.

"It's not that bad," Sakura sighs, which is a lie, before flipping the switches to the kitchen lights and turning to retrieve her equipment from outside. "Lie there," she instructs over her shoulder with a scowl she hopes is threat enough. "And don't move. I'll be right back."

She takes the time to calm herself, regulating her breathing into deep slow breaths as she locks the front door behind her. She's already thinking to herself: boil water, gather towels, fill bathtub. His clothes are ruined, she'll have to find him some sweats from the back of her closet.

"I've gotta go back after this." He might be talking to himself, mumbling from the countertop, hardly loud enough for her to hear. "Tsunade-baa'll kill me if she finds out I blew it."

"Blew what?" she asks, once more at his side. She doesn't even remember having set the pot to boil on the stove. She trails her hands up and down his chest before sliding lower to his tummy; she checks his heart rate and his breathing in the process, but mostly she does it for her own comfort. She's feeling shaky, spooked by the whole thing—the suddenness of his hypothetical loss shoved in her face.

He whines when her fingers dip down into the broken flesh before beginning to carefully mend it together, but that's not why he doesn't answer. She can tell because he glances sidelong into her living room and gnaws at his bottom lip, a clear and familiar indication that he feels he's talked himself into a corner.

"I wasn't supposed to tell you," he explains at last (once the silence has dragged on too long for comfort), and she wonders since when they've been keeping secrets.

She mends a little less gently at the thought, and he gasps. "Naruto, if it were anyone else, I'd need to give them a blood transfusion, do you understand?"

By which it should be clear: if you were anyone else, if you weren't a jinchuuriki, you couldn't afford to be so reckless.

He frowns at her rebuke, and she expects him to shut her out now completely, but he sighs, "Okay, okay. I get it. I got permission to go find information on Ero-sennin's. . . last battle. Ow, I got permission, okay?!"

"You idiot," she cries, having completely forgotten any veneer of professionalism at this news. "I don't believe you! She wouldn't send you out there after—not alone, after what happened." Naruto doesn't say anything to this, tightlipped with either discomfort or anger, so Sakura continues a little more pathetically, "Why would you go out there without me? We're a team aren't we?"

She doesn't know why she feels so betrayed at the thought; you'd think she was accusing him of meeting with Sasuke-kun in secret somewhere. But it's clear that she's right on this matter—if he really was so much better off without her in a mission situation, he wouldn't be here now staining the ceramic tiles of her countertop. She turns her back to dip an eyed needle into the boiling water before attaching the suture thread. She's already closed the wound through chakra adhesive techniques, but she wants to be absolutely sure—stitches are rarely necessary in treating Naruto because of the rapid healing qualities of his fox chakra, but seeing him in such a state, it makes her overly cautious.

"You think I'd put you at that kinda risk?" he groans and tries to sit up. The action reopens the slash, and from the way he touches a palm to his forehead before wilting back to a prone position, makes him lightheaded. "I'm fine; I'm getting up. It was a mistake to come here."

Sakura sours instantly, lips puckered from the insult (and the fact that she'll essentially have to start from scratch, re-heal him)—it was so much easier to work in the hospital environment where you could strap a patient to his bed. "Oh, sure. Go crawl into a corner and die, dumbass. That'd be so much better than having to deal with me." She digs knuckles into the pit of his stomach and he blanches (more so than he already has from the loss of blood), for a moment looking as if he'll vomit.

Breathily, he retorts, "Not going to die."

She knows. She knows that, and she's thankful he's okay, but he scared her so very badly—can't he understand, that for a while she didn't know that earlier tonight?

"Just lie still for a little bit." Surprisingly, he complies, and she works in silence, careful to reseal the wound before digging the needle into the soft skin of his stomach. On the final lace she asks, "How did you get her to agree?" Because it bothers her to think that her master would approve of such reckless behavior, may have very nearly cost her one of her most precious teammates.

Naruto does sit then, examining the stitches by rubbing the palm of his hand across her work. He scratches at the seams where they pull and stretch against his movement. He still looks white, much too white for him, but he shoots her the ghost of that familiar grin. "I told her I was going and that she couldn't stop me."

She wants to pummel him. But she won't risk ruining her handiwork and having to fix it yet again. Instead she frowns and starts tugging at his pants.

"H-HAY," he yelps, caught off guard by the unexpectedness of her act and scrambles to grab the edge of the countertop to keep from being tugged off along with the article of clothing. He's already naked from the waist up, but he wasn't planning to get naked-NAKED, not in front of Sakura-chan anyway. And not like this. He's struggling to make a crack about 'if she wanted him' but for the life of him, his wit has failed him and what comes out instead is merely a series of choked syllables which sound suspiciously like surprise and, even more embarrassingly, boy-hood innocence.

It's not how she'd have wanted it to be (either), if she'd ever wanted it to be with Naruto, but she's working now, yes off the clock, because he's the one who brought it to her doorstep and she's still in uniform from her earlier shift. And if there is anything about her professionalism that she prides herself on, it's her efficiency. She's going to check for remaining lacerations, and that's that.

Besides, what is a naked body to her in such a line of work?

"Stop making this difficult," she hisses, and with a final rip the pants are off. There's nothing standing between them now except for air and a very short pair of striped boxers. He doesn't seem to know what to do with his hands aside from trying to swat hers away, but she ignores his awkwardness, face serious as fingers trace the contours of his thighs meticulously, dip down behind each knee and graze along bony shins.

"I'm fiiiine," he whines, his voice pitching higher in his impatience and for a moment reminding her of their childhood together.

His boxers are ratty and worn with runs across the crotch. "These are way too small for you." She wants to add, What were you thinking? but it's too naggy even for her (she has a tendency to mother him if she's not careful) so she resists the urge to admonish him as she reaches for the elastic waistband.

He seems distracted or maybe just defeated, allowing her to peel the undergarment away with only verbal protest. "Hey," he sulks, lying back on the counter so as not to have to look at her while she looks at him. "I couldn't find any clean laundry when I went to pack. Just be glad I'm not free-balling it."

"Not like it matters now," she rewards him with a little half-snort, and he gasps when her slender fingers press into his ballsack and begin to gently probe around.

He turns his head to the side, flushed hot as she continues exploring, moving parts from side to side and up and down as needed. He stares hard at the dark jutting shapes of her furniture and fails at trying to keep his mind blank. "You couldn't have just trusted me that the gut wound was the only one?" he says.

She's thinking that she's surprised they made it this long without her ever seeing him naked—what with her being a medic and how often he gets hurt. At the hospital there was always just someone else there to do that job. "Just because we never got naked before doesn't mean it's not necessary." Which just comes out totally wrong.

He is looking at her now, and she can't quite meet his eyes, but she can't seem to stop touching him either. The skin there is so soft, like new, and kind of like the skin behind the ear, and she realizes she's never touched a patient this way—massaging and thinking and taking the time to really consider what it feels like. She's never touched any boy this way, embarrassingly.

The look in his eyes is so intense—needy—that she snatches her hand away, and the moment is broken. Naruto scrambles to sit (wincing) and covers his privates with both hands, smashing down his budding erection with sweaty palms, hiding himself as if she hadn't just examined him in his full entirety, hadn't just sort of pleasantly molested his dignity in the name of science.

"Come on, let's get you cleaned up," she says a little too quickly, mortified by the whole exchange (really she doesn't know what came over her), but she's glad that it seems to have brought back a little color to his skin. She scoops him up with the help of her chakra enhanced strength and carries him down the hallway and into the bathroom. He feels weightless in her arms.

He's quiet as she runs the bath water, testing the temperature against her wrist, so she quips, "You know, I can never eat off that counter again."

He looks drained and not at all like his normal energetic self but manages a wry smile. "I'm sure the blood will wash away. It's not ruined."

"I meant because of your naked ass all over the tile top."

Naruto chokes on his own spittle and she uses that moment to ease him from the edge of the tub and into the steaming, clear water. She watches as it plumes red, the blood like a cloud of kicked up dust.

"And whose fault is that?" He finally manages to sound indignant.

She stains the white bar of soap against his chest, dips it in the water and glides it across his spongy skin. He settles down, only splashing a small amount of water over the sides.

Sakura's soaps smell good, but her shampoo smells even better as she massages it into his scalp. (He's going to smell like a fruit after this.) He feels a little bit like a child or a puppy which is humiliating for a grown boy, but he likes the feel of the attention so he keeps quite apart from the occasional muted expression of pleasure. She could make his toes curl even if she never touches him that way, even if she'll never even look at him like that.

"Sakuura-chyan." He beams up at her, but then the shampoo starts to drip down into his eyes and he has to close them.

"I'm glad you're okay," she says and touches her lips to a spot along the line of his jaw.

When he turns his face into hers, searching for her lips, she dumps a cup of water over his head.

AN: I needed to write something fluffy and just... cute Sakura and Naruto interaction after so much angst in Clean Through. I've had major writer's block for its next chapter (even though I know what I want to happen) so I thought this might help to get the creative juices flowing. My original intention was to make this a one shot, but rather than hold onto it any longer, I'll just post it up as is and finish with a nice bedroom scene in chapter two

ALSO I apologize for the whacky changes in POV randomly throughout but I'm too lazy to care to fix them. :3 Just, uh, go with it?