Sasuke's Point of View

I followed her into the office, where she rounded the desk, plopped down in her seat, and buried her hands into her hair.

"I don't even know where to start," she said, heaving a sigh as she attempted to regain her composure. Then she straightened and placed a hand over a towering stack of papers. "Alright. I suppose the files I asked for are somewhere in this pile."

It took every ounce of willpower in me not to ignore her and to give a nod in response.

"I'll have to keep you up to date with a lot of changes that will take place—rules, regulations… things that are inevitable. The hospital will interfere with your administrative system until it's capable of running on its own. Mostly when it comes to information. Then—"

"Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?" I interrupted her, raising an eyebrow.

She rolled her eyes. "No, Sasuke," she said. "You need to see the hospital as an institution that has everything to fend for itself. It doesn't rely on you. You rely on it." She stopped, and sighed once more. "Or will. Whatever. I will try to make it stand on its own two feet as soon as possible, but it doesn't depend only on me, so I can't make any promises."

"Hn." That would have been my last word, since in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to put as much distance as possible between this woman and myself, because if I remained in her office for much longer, the police would walk in on a crime scene the following morning—more specifically, on a dead body with a pink mane. I had even stood to make my intentions clear—which she skillfully ignored by directing her interest towards a file—but before I could take a step, the idiot barged back in with two bags of food in his hands. He closed the door behind him and unceremoniously dropped the take-out onto the desk, before he placed a hand over my shoulder and slammed me back into my seat.

Resisting was futile. I knew that from experience, and the truth was, I had no energy to fight him that day.

So I resumed at eating my food and ignoring both of my ex-teammates. Ignoring—I was good at that. Only that with Naruto… well, it wasn't exactly easy to tune him out.

"Sakura-chan, that was so harsh!" he exclaimed through a mouthful of food. "You weren't like that back in Konoha!"

Sakura rolled her eyes. "In Konoha, I knew I was dealing with actual people with actual brains. Now, I'm not so sure. And I'm not taking chances."

Scowling, I cut in, "Stop being such a bitch, Sakura."

All she did in response was raise a challenging eyebrow at me. "Protective, are we?" she mocked. "But trust me, that was completely necessary. If I just stood there and smiled like an idiot, my chances of ever winning their respect would have turned to zero in an instant. But I guess I wouldn't have you understand what that means, now would I?"

From beside me, Naruto whined. "Don't be like that, Sakura-chan. These people respect Sasuke-teme!"

"There's a big difference between respect and fear, Naruto," she told him. "Don't confuse the two."

"The only person these people were afraid of was Orochimaru," I said. "And I'm not him, Sakura."

To my surprise, she nodded. "I know. These people aren't afraid of you. They're hanging onto every hope they have. But your reasons for being here are completely different from what they appear to be," she accused. "They're wrong and they're selfish. You care about nobody but yourself, Sasuke, and it won't be long until everybody realizes it. I can only hope I'll still be here to witness your downfall."

Now, I had to admit, at the beginning, the sole reason why I chose to come back to Otokagure was because it was advantageous. That was that. The thought of how much work I'd have to put in for the well-being of the village had never once occurred to me, so I suppose that was enough proof to confirm her assumption—I did think of myself. I always did that, so it was no surprise to me—apparently, it wasn't to her, either.

What she didn't know, however, what I would never tell her or anybody else, for that matter, was that, in time, I'd actually come to care about these people, about this place. It was the kind of attachment I'd sworn I'd never allow myself to feel again. Realizing it was annoying enough; admitting it was taking it to another level. But in the end, that was the truth and it couldn't be denied. Ever since I was told about my brother and the truth he had fought so hard to hide for all his life, I'd made a point of not lying to myself anymore.

And always thinking before acting, but that was another story.

But what did she know? What right did she have to make assumptions based on past actions that had no connection whatsoever with the situation at hand? Who did she think she was?

I was ready to lunge over the desk and strangle her.

And then it hit me. She didn't need to think anything of herself to be able to draw conclusions, however wrong they might be. She was Sakura, and she had witnessed the brunt of my selfishness firsthand—every single time, over and over again.

In the light of that realization, what right did I have to question her behavior?