Author's Notes:

This is the Sasuke based version where he falls into the water instead of Sakura. I have decided to post this as an add-on to Heated as a thank you to all of my readers, especially those of you who fav'd and reviewed. ^_^

This version hints at sexual content, but contains no graphic lemon.

Enjoy!

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"Come here, Sasuke," Sakura called to him over her shoulder. "Look at this lake.. it has frozen perfectly smooth."

She had been right. The view was pristine and unreal, like a mirror. As Sasuke over looked the cliff's ridge, he felt a rare sense of awe and beauty. However, his mouth did not convey he thought so. Sakura smiled sweetly at him, temporarily warming his neck from the sensation. Leaning over, Sakura attempted to look closer at the still water.

A small scroll slipped from her pocket, falling onto the smooth hard surface below. Sakura frowned and cursed a soft word. Climbing onto the ice was unsafe, but leaving behind an incriminating scroll to enemies was dangerous. The proficient medic eased her way to the edge, preparing herself to scale down the cliff side. However, a firm hand grabbed her upper arm. Sakura's eyes met with Sasuke's.

"That lake probably isn't frozen through," He warned her.

"I'll be careful."

"No. You wait here," Sasuke pulled her back by the arm, rather forcefully. Despite his insult to her abilities, Sakura felt a sense of thrill from his protective nature. The rogue nin rarely showed his protective side, but when he did, he was unyielding in his resolve. Nevertheless, Sakura tried to reason with him.

"I weigh less than you," She argued. "If the ice is weak, it's more likely to break under you."

Sasuke ignored her, moving to the edge.

"Plus, I have better chakra control than you. I can balance my chakra into my feet to help me across the ice better."

He shook his head at her.

"Wait here."

Unloading his pack from his shoulders, Sasuke set the pack down. Sakura may have better chakra control, but Sasuke knew he simply had more chakra. She had to feel drained from their rapid journey up here, trying to not lose the trail of the gang. Besides, if he did fall through, he was a stronger swimmer. His muscle tone and ready supply of energy would allow him to remain warm, while her thin frame would lose heat too rapidly.

Justified in his choice, Sasuke landed with a small thud onto the ice. He edged himself to the scroll, careful to balance the chakra in his feet. Despite his finesse, the ice still sank slightly beneath him.

"Is it frozen through?" Sakura cried from above.

Sasuke shook his head, not bothering to turn around and face her.

"Be careful!" She replied.

When the hell wasn't he?

Pulling the scroll into his gloved fingers, Sasuke turned around to his female teammate. Using great accuracy, he threw the scroll towards her. The clever girl caught it.

Making his way back to the young lady, Sasuke's thoughts drifted towards the satisfaction of being right in not letting her come down. Too lost in his own smug attitude, he did not notice the ice give a little, warning him. He stepped too heavy.

Suddenly, he was submerged under water.

The icy cold water did not make him shiver initially. Instead, it made him ache with a sharp, pointed pain. He opened his eyes beneath the surface, taking in the clear environment around him. Pushing his chakra through his muscles to keep his vital organs warm, Sasuke made sure strong strokes to the surface.

The cold water was teasing his mind, however. His thoughts grew fuzzy…almost out of touch with reality. His mind drifted backwards, to a time long since past. As his lungs burning from the lack of air, Sasuke remembered the first time he had ever nearly drowned.

His older brother, Itachi, had been a proponent of the sink or swim method of teaching. Giving his little brother a wicked grin, Itachi lifted Sasuke under his arms and tossed him into the lake's depths. Being only five years old, Sasuke naturally panicked.

When he opened his eyes in the lake water then, he only saw cloudy water. Nothing like the pristine beauty he was emerged in now. Now, he could probably clearly see miles away.

Sasuke's muscles began to twitch involuntarily. Panic set into his limbs, forcing him into an unwanted frenzy. Why hadn't he reached the top by now?

His torn thought process went back to the summer day he nearly drowned. Then, he had been rescued by his older brother. He recalled several harsh pats on the back, trying to force him to cough up water.

"You are a natural swimmer little brother," Itachi encouraged him, trying to convince Sasuke into getting back into the water. "You just got flipped over and went the wrong way. You were swimming to the bottom. Next time, exhale and watch which way the bubbles go. Then, you'll know."

Sasuke, remembering his brother's advice, exhaled. He had made the same mistake twice, almost fifteen years apart. He had been swimming to the bottom again.

"You always react first, Sasuke. Observe more, and then react," Itachi's voice echoed in his mind. Sasuke couldn't remember why his brother had said that to him though.

His lungs burned, gulping in water against Sasuke's will. Forcing himself to pushing upwards more, Sasuke suddenly reached the surface. A pair of hands took hold of his arms, pulling him atop of the water.

Unaware of his surroundings, Sasuke felt the strong hands press into his chest, forcing him to spit up the swallowed water. As he composed himself, he did not hear the frantic questions of the female beside him.

"Can you feel your limbs? Did you ever loss consciousness?" She babbled, rubbing at his back. "I'm so sorry Sasuke-kun. I couldn't get to you... the ice had moved and I couldn't see where you fell in. I'm so sorry Sasuke. I promise you'll be fine, okay? I didn't mean to let you stay in there so long."

Coming into realization, Sasuke noticed Sakura sitting beside him, trying to shake him into attention.

"We need to get you inside those caves. Now," She urged hurriedly. She stood to her feet, using some of her unreal strength to help pull him to his.

"Pump your chakra through your body. You need to protect your core," She ordered, walking quickly while bearing some of his weight. "Can you talk to me please?"

"Hm?" He mumbled.

"I want to make sure you're all here. People with hypothermia suffer from mild confusion," She explained, forcing him up the cliff side. "Can you climb or do you need me to carry you?"

"Carry me?" He asked, his brows moving together. "Do I look like a damn woman?"

Sakura smiled to herself. Even after a near death experience, Sasuke still stubbornly held onto his pride. Using a limited power he should have been preserving, Sasuke made his way up the mountain. Sakura trailed closely behind him, carefully watching his every move. Thankfully, both members made it to the top unscathed.

Once inside the cave, Sakura frantically threw off her gloves. Standing before Sasuke, she unzipped his soaking coat and threw it to the floor. Rushing to the kits set against the walls of the cave, Sakura threw off the top and began to search.

"Can you get the rest of your clothes off or are your fingers too numb?" Sakura asked, pulling a towel forth.

"I'll get it," He answered. Once she left, he struggled with undressing himself. It would have been far easier to just let the experienced nurse take action, but his pride had interfered. Pride could very well been his greatest weakness.

She went outside to retrieve their packs, while he dried himself off with the towel. His nose scrunched in disapproval of the smell of the cloth. It was something like an old closet. When she returned, she announced her arrival. Covering himself, Sasuke observed her looking pointedly away from him as she slid his pack across the floor.

While he dressed himself in his spare clothing, Sakura laid down a mat. She covered the mat with a sleeping bag. Fuel had been thrown into the fire pit, but she was having poor luck with the matches. Finally redressed, Sasuke stood beside her and moved his fingers awkwardly. Barely able to use his clan's fire technique, he lit warmth into the room.

Without words, Sakura pressed onto his shoulders, gesturing him to sit down on the mat. Kneeling before him, she ran her hand along his forehead. His skin no longer held its usual alabaster glow. Now it was lavender white… sickly pale. Dark circles under his eyes indicated exhaustion, most likely from the over usage of chakra after a long day. His lips, while always alluring to Sakura's, were a frightening faded blue. His shivers were powerful, shaking his entire form. Yet, his teeth did not chatter. The strain of his jaw indicated he was forcing them tight so the sound would not escape.

"Sasuke," Sakura began with uncertainly in her voice. "I believe you are suffering from moderate hypothermia. Your body temperature has lowered, causing you to shiver strongly. This is also apparent from your lack of muscle coordination. Your face is pale and your lips are blue…"

She trailed off for a moment. Sasuke was absolutely the worst patient in history. Multiple times over she had been given examples of his reluctance to admit he was hurt and his refusal to be healed properly. In the past, the only reasoning that would appeal to him was the threat that an injury may ruin his career. He said nothing, so she continued with explaining.

"I am going to try to warm you slowly, so as not to shock your nervous system. I am going to rub at your toes and fingers first, since frost bite is most likely in those locations. The friction will stimulate blood flow. After that, I'll make you something warm to eat. Okay?"

"I'll do that on my own. You get changed out of your wet clothes."

Sakura frowned slightly. She anticipated his refusal of her treating him. Taking his left hand into her own, she began to rub at his fingers. Sasuke tried not to gasp from the sudden affectionate contact.

"Your fingers are too numb," she reasoned, massaging his hand gently in her own.

"Hmp. I'll manage," He replied, looking away from her. He felt a different kind of warmth circulate his body. The kind of warmth any man would feel when a charming young woman held his hands.

"But…" she trailed off thoughtfully. "I'll go change into my dry clothes first, okay? I'm willing to compromise on this."

She smiled at him reassuringly, which he chose to ignore. His gazed focused onto his lap, refusing to acknowledge there was a stunning feminine figure undressing herself across the room. His mind refused to acknowledge that some part of him wished to sneak a peek. Quickly, Sakura was redressed into her warm, comfortable clothing. She settled herself beside Sasuke again, taking his hand into her own once more.

She finally was holding Sasuke Uchiha's hand, but it was only to prevent permanent damage. How disappointing.

Her ministrations continued for awhile, moving from one hand to the other. She let out a soft giggle when Sasuke jumped from the feeling of her hand on his foot.

"Sasuke-kun… are you ticklish?" she teased him playfully, her fingers edging across the soles of his feet. He only starred her down in response, trying to prevent himself from jerking at the sensation. When she started to giggle, he didn't bother to hold back a glare. Satisfied that she had prevented long term damage to his feet and fingers, she moved to find something to wrap him up in. Thankfully, the kit contained a fleece blanket. Tenderly, she wrapped the blanket across his shoulders.

"You take it," Sasuke refused, pushing the blanket away from himself. Sakura frowned and shook her head.

"I wasn't under the ice," Sakura persuaded. "I was only a little damp when we walked back. You were completely soaked."

"Hn," He replied, pushing the blanket off of his shoulders when she tried to drape it around him.

Inhaling slowly, Sakura considered the best course of action with her stubborn patient.

"Why don't you want it? You're shivering like crazy… I've never seen anyone look so cold," She whispered softly behind him. Sasuke couldn't explain himself to her really. He desired that she be warm before him. Watching her shake was far more irritating than the cold of his skin. Unable to express himself and refuse her, Sasuke accepted the blanket around his shoulders the third time she attempted to wrap him.

"I'm going to make you some ramen, okay?" Sakura said to Sasuke, eyeing his shivering over her shoulder. "The warm food should help you heat up."

"Hn."

"I swear," Sakura grumbled to herself. "Someday I'm going to find a way to get you to answer without using monosyllables."

"Better women than you have tried," Sasuke thought to himself, darkly. Sakura noticed his eyes look downward, going out of focus. His mouth subtly fell into a frown.

Sasuke's mother had often tried to break him of his habit of answering her shortly. His mother was a warm, cheerful woman who was constantly patting the top of his head and asking him questions about his day. His earliest of memories was how she would chatter to him while cuddling and nuzzling. His father, however, put an end to that.

Since she could no longer coddle her son in fear he'd become weak, Mikoto would continue her chatter with him while patting the top of his head. Her attempts to smooth her son's spiky hair had always been in vain. Itachi advised him once that all he'd have to do was swat away her hand and she'd stop. However, Sasuke enjoyed his mother's affections.

He could almost hear her soft, sweet toned voice still…. And her punishment method of choice when her sons didn't respond to her.

"I am happy you are home," She cooed softly while trying to smooth his hair. "Your brother returned from his mission and has been resting."

Knowing Itachi was home made him want to train desperately, especially since his older brother had already slept some. His father had yet to return home, which meant no one else would want Itachi's attention.

"Aa," Sasuke would reply patiently.

Flick!

"Ow!" Sasuke cried, covering his mouth. Having married into the Uchiha clan, Mikoto was surrounded by men who would barely reply in conversation. She refused to see her precious baby boy grow into one of those men. Itachi had never responded to her gentle corrections when he was a child. So with Sasuke, she decided to try a more simple method of punishment. When she would flick her son's lips, she always did so quickly. He cried out mostly in surprise, rather than in pain.

"Use complete sentences, dear," She reminded him yet again. Her hand gently stroked his cheek, telling him she wasn't really angry with him. "I know your brother doesn't answer in complete sentences, but I do not want you to end up like him."

"I heard that," Itachi called from the other room causing Mikoto to snicker. Forgetting his mother, Sasuke would rush off to pester his favorite companion.

One of Sasuke's countless regrets was that he didn't spend more time with his mother. He wished at times he was gentler and kind like she would have wanted, but that was not the man he had become.

"What are you thinking about so intensely?" Sakura asked, interrupting his thoughts. It was a dangerous question to pose to Uchiha Sasuke. Naruto and Sakura had decided, however, to try to snap him out of his dark musings when they could. Perhaps if they did, Sasuke's overall wellbeing would improve.

"Nothing," He snapped in annoyance.

Sakura handed him a cup of tea as the noodles softened in their container. His shaking hands were unable to handle the cup, spilling the hot water onto his fingers. Sasuke hissed in disapproval.

He ate and drank quickly, eager to feel warmth within himself again. Perhaps he could even replenish his chakra. However, the hot food only temporarily offered him comfort. He continued to shake forcefully. Sakura frowned at him, running her hand along his forehead.

"You're so cold.." she murmured wistfully "I'm running out of options, Sasuke."

He stared into her eyes, knowing the next logical course of action for both of their health. They needed to maintain body heat. All other sources of heat had failed.

"Lie down beside me then," he answered with an unhappy sigh. She smiled briefly at him, thankful he wasn't going to put up a fight. He slipped under the sleeping bag as she positioned the fleece blanket atop of it. Sasuke tried not to be surprised but the sudden closeness of Sakura.

Sakura settled herself into his arms. Wrapping herself against his chest, her body heat warmed his core. To his surprise, she did not lie facing away from him. Her face tucked into the crock of his neck, almost as if she were made to fit against him like this. Her hands tenderly massaged his neck, either to stimulate heat or to help calm him. Either way, the ministrations were having a disturbing effect on Sasuke. Disturbing in the fact he didn't want to throw her off. Even more so that he was slowly relaxing… Gently he drifted into the gates of sleep. She whispered something softly. Her words hung so delicately into the air, Sasuke had almost been unable to understand her.

"What does this remind you of, Sasuke-kun?" She murmured, her voice almost breaking in memory. He knew of the moment she spoke of. A sacred moment they had shared together only a couple of years ago, back when he intended to kill both her and Naruto.

There had been a battle.

Sasuke awoke. Beside him a few feet away lay Naruto unconscious.

A few yards beyond that, Madara lay dead. Sasuke's first clear thought in that moment was that he was alone. The sole survivor of a once prestigious clan. Most likely, he would be the last of his kind forever.

He watched, entranced by Naruto's body. Above him hovering Sakura's figure, weeping generously. In the dark, Sasuke could hear her gasping and choking on her sorrow. She whispered something to Naruto, not awakening him. Her hands hovered along Naruto's body, glowing green. As she healed her teammate, she continued to weep. Naruto stirred, alerting Sasuke that he was alive. Sakura's hands fell to her side. As she bent her head downward, her tears hit the earthen ground.

Sniffing, she looked up at Sasuke. Their eyes met and locked.

"Do…you want me to heal you?" She questioned, her hands shaking. Sakura was filled with both relief and terror. She was relieved to find both males were alive. Once she first had assessed the scene, she believed both of them to be dead, making her openly cry. Despite the discovery both were alive, she remained unsettled. Tears continued to pour. She was terrified Sasuke would try to attack her and Naruto. If he did, she would have to protect Naruto. Sasuke would be killed. After all that had just occurred, Sasuke had no chakra left for battle. He stood no chance against her.

When Naruto had taken off without her for Sasuke, she had been slow to catch up. From what she gathered, Sasuke had turned against Madara. When Naruto arrived by luck, he joined Sasuke in the assault. How the pair had managed to defeat the seemingly immortal was impossible for Sakura to imagine. However, Sasuke and Naruto were an almost unbeatable team.

Whatever had happened left both Sasuke and Naruto at death's doorstep. She attended to Naruto first, all the while wondering if she should try to heal Sasuke. When she noticed the Uchiha's gaze upon her, she knew she could not restraint herself from helping him.

Sasuke didn't move or respond. He was frozen into a trance of confusion and confliction. When she edged herself closer to him, he did not back away. Her hand rested above his abdomen, but he grabbed her wrist to stop her.

"Do you think that's wise?" He asked, eyes dark and disillusioned. "I want to cleanse the world of your village with fire. You know I have no qualms with killing you… or your friend."

"Our village… our friend." She replied, her eyes staring down his. Tension rose into her neck. Her words attempted to attach Sasuke to his past. Whenever someone tried to force him into remembering his life at Konoha, he would become enraged. She prepared herself physically for battle, expecting him to lash out at any moment.

They did not battle, however. They remained locked into each other's gaze. It was intensely suffocating. Sakura's vision blurred so that all she could see was into was Sasuke's black eyes.

"Why did you kill him?" She asked, breaking the silence but not the gaze. A delayed tear from earlier slipped down her cheek.

"My family had disowned him. He brought them to destruction as well, so he had to be destroyed."

"But he helped you…"

"And he was foolish to do so."

"And Konoha is next?"

"Yes. I wanted to destroy it alone. I am the only one with the right."

A few renegade tears slipped from Sakura's eyes, but her expression and gaze did not waver.

"I can't let you do that."

"Then end me."

She shook her head.

"Naruto and I will never be able to kill you. We love you," she swallowed.

"If you don't, you condemn Konoha to destruction."

Sakura's fists clenched and her gaze fell into her lap. More tears slipped down her face. Not allowing herself to whimper and gasp aloud her pain, her lungs burned inside of her. She inhaled sharply.

"I feel like you are asking me to kill you," She stated to him.

He watched her intently.

"And I think that you want me to kill you because it makes everything easy for you. If you are dead, you don't have to feel conflicted anymore."

"Why would I feel conflicted in revenge?"

"Because Itachi sacrificed everything to prevent the destruction of Konoha. You want revenge for him but... you..." A whimper of pain escaped her. "You… you are so angry you were left alone, but there is no one you can blame any more. And..." Her fists shook in her lap. She wanted to say so much more, but she was unable to carry on. Feeling overwhelmed, her babbles nearly made no sense.

The Sasuke she knew was long gone. The shell of what had once been sat before her, but she could not fill that shell. Her words were only in vein and she knew that. Nothing she could say or do would ever bring Sasuke-kun back. He may be breathing before her, but Sakura came to grips that the person she loved was dead. Hate and anger had consumed him long ago. Her tears and sobs now were her tears of mourning.

Sasuke starred into her. For a foolish girl, she had been so correct. She knew everything about the conflict within him. Her words were a tangled mess, but the spoke true to the turmoil within him. His own thoughts were a tangled mess.

He was torn between the sting of betrayal from his village and their sordid connection to the massacre and precious memories of a sunny place. However, Itachi had been willing to agree to it all. He could tolerate the loss out of love. To destroy the village, was to mar the memory of Itachi's ultimate sacrifice.

A sacrifice he shouldn't have been forced to make.

Suddenly closing the distance, Sakura pressed herself against him in a fierce hug. The familiarity of her embrace absorbed Sasuke from pushing her away and harming her. He was far too sunk into himself to full absorb the concept of the being beside him. She trembled against his chest, sobbing into him.

"Please," she pleaded, unable to handle her conclusion that the real Sasuke was long dead. Some part of her believed she was suffering from denial. "Please come home. Please… let's just go back to the way things were."

"I can never go back," He answered with frustration, his hand rising. He would have to end her life now.

"Then everything can change!" She cried, looking up into his eyes. "We'll… the three of us… I just want us together. I just want us together again. It's what you're family would have wanted for you!"

He did not lower his hand for the fatal blow to her neck. He didn't move.

"It'll be better now… You'll feel better, I promise. Naruto and I will never leave you. Please!" She sobbed somewhat incoherently. "We'll find a way to fix your charges… You can have redemption."

Naruto awoke from her cries, but made sure not to alert them of his conscious presence. He watched the fierce embrace she was giving Sasuke, hoping she could wear him down. If Sakura could persuade him, they would be united again. He would not have to fight to the death for his best friend. They could all be unified, alive and happy. Naruto was willing to do anything for their unification.

The blonde nin also watched protectively, knowing Sasuke may prepare to strike the vulnerable girl.

"We'll be like a family," Sakura promised, not even believing her words mattered anymore. Yet, she pressed on. Had he not been so weak mentally, Sasuke would have ended her, but his hand remained aloft. Naruto straightened up suddenly, preparing to rush Sasuke before he struck. He watched in horror, seemingly in slow motion, as Sasuke's hand lowered to her.

But Sasuke's hand gently rested against Sakura's back.

It was at that moment, Naruto knew that Sasuke was willing to come home.

Snapping back into reality, Sasuke lowered his gaze to the dozing female in his arms. As if knowing his gaze was upon her, she nuzzled his neck gently. She gave him a tight hug, forcing him to exhale air. Sasuke hated having people so close, but the memory had weakened him temporarily. He momentarily felt guilt and allowed her to do as she pleased.

"I'm surprised," she murmured in amusement, her lips brushing against his skin. Sasuke resisted the instinct he felt to pull her closer.

"Hm?" he asked.

"You're handling the cuddling well. You must have been freezing!"

"We are not cuddling. We are huddling for warmth."

She giggled in response.

Lately, Sasuke had noticed she was quick to chuckle. Rarely did he ever see her cry, but she was constantly giggling. He was pleased to see the lack of tears, reasoning to himself that her cry baby ways had been annoying when they were genin. In reality, he hated to see her cry for a completely different reason.

He sighed patiently. His shivers were dying down, calming as Sakura began to doze in his arms once again. She was terribly warm, like holding a vessel of sunshine. Her eyes gazed upward to his, ebony meeting emerald.

"Sasuke-kun… may I ask you a serious question?"

"No."

She sighed in disappointment.

"Please... I promise just one question. You can answer it with a single word and everything."

He gave her a long, pointed look. Ignoring this blatant sign language of refusal, Sakura pressed onwards.

"I just need to know… are you… are you still lonely? Like you were before?"

He didn't respond. He just looked at her.

"Because… Naruto and I try really hard to make sure you aren't, but I feel like you are. Naruto says I'm imagining it, but…"

"Do you and Naruto discuss me often?" he interrupted. He hated how close Naruto and Sakura had become. There had been a time when Sakura always felt like an outsider between Naruto and Sasuke. Now, everything had changed. Sasuke was definitely the outsider.

"I'm constantly worrying about you," she confessed sheepishly. "He tries to make me feel better about it."

"About what?"

"About you… and if you are…" She paused, unable to finish her sentence.

Sasuke's mouth pressed into a line. Sakura suddenly regretted asking the question. She wanted to bury her face into his neck so she wouldn't have to face him, but leaning in for a closer contact was undesirable at this moment as well.

"You are irritating. You always trying to interfere with things you cannot control."

"I can't help it… you're so important to me... to all of us."

"Do not be concerned. I have no intentions of leaving," he answered her shortly, offense creeping into his tone.

"I know that," she replied bravely. He obviously didn't wish to continue this discussion. If she pressed him too roughly, he was sure to blow up. "But it's a waste for you to be with us… and you still feel alone."

"You cannot make someone happy, Sakura. Do not trouble yourself with the impossible."

"That's total crap," she responded. He raised his eyebrow at her. Was she seriously stupid enough to pick a fight at a time like this? "You make me happy every day…"

He glared at her.

"Like right now.. I'm happy that you didn't respond with 'hn' or 'aa' to my question."

"Quit babbling like a sap."

"I wouldn't have to babble like a sap if.." Her sentence interrupted with an index finger to her lips. Sasuke gave her a strong, scolding look.

"Sakura, shut up. Now."

His answer hung into the air, even though he had left the words unspoken. Sakura, however, had clearly received the message. Sasuke was still lonely, but he would never confess the sentiment aloud. In fact, he was angry he still felt this way. He was infuriated that returning to the only remaining people who loved him had not cured him of his ache. Sakura could tell all this as she watched his eyes darken. A cloud seemed to loom around him.

Sakura's infamously short temper almost went off from his disheartened attitude, but she restrained herself when she realized that Sasuke was trying to be polite. Polite in his own asshole, self-centered, warped view of polite. His temper was twice as bad as hers, yet he did not yell at her or threaten her for poking at sensitive territory. Since he obviously chose to show some containment, she returned the favor.

They both closed their eyes. Despite the tension, both members of the pair were comforted by the other's presence eventually. Sakura was comforted that the nin who had once been far away was lying beside her. His near drowning today had frightened her, making her additionally grateful he was safe. He may not have complete inner peace, but he was calm enough to slowly drift into sleep. Sasuke was comforted by the presence of someone he cared for beside him, despite the fact he would never admit just how important she was aloud.

The blizzard winds shrieked outside, tearing against the cave. Tucked away from the hazardous weather, both Sasuke and Sakura fell into a contented sleep. Some of the cold air brushed into their sleeping chamber, despite the long tunnel it had to travel down first. As the cold air swept across the fire, it managed to reach Sasuke's sleeping form. Sensitive to the drop in temperature and still struggling to completely warm himself, the unconscious Uchiha pulled the sleeping female closer. Sakura's body reacted to the embrace, her face gently nuzzling against his chest in her sleep.

Regardless of being unconscious, Sasuke's psyche seemed to feel soothed from her warm presence. His muscles relaxed and his dreams drifted into peaceful territory. He dreamt of warm summer days, ramen stands, grinning idiots, and sweet blossom girls. His own personal source of comfort.

Sakura's dreams, however, were not as soothing. Any outsider who observed the pair would assume that Sasuke would be the one plagued by demons during sleep, but in reality Sakura often suffered from more nightmares than him. Sakura suspected this was from her dual nature, her inner worries manifesting themselves in her dreams. Her eyelids raced back and forth while her mind frightened her with dreams of abandonment, death, and isolation. Her precious ones were nowhere to be found.

Sasuke was awoken from his peaceful slumber by a whimper. Unaware of his surroundings, he lay confused for a moment. He tried to remember where he was and how he had arrived there. Before he even opened his eyes, he felt the pressure and warmth from the body entwined with his. Having another so close should have startled him, but the sweet scent tickling at his nose alerted him it was only Sakura. His eyes fluttering open at a cry.

Looking down at her form, he watched as Sakura struggled in her sleep. Her limbs twitched slightly, shaking her delicate figure. Rolling over in her sleep, she moved away from Sasuke. The sudden lack of his warmth against her seemed to agitate the girl further, and she cried out once more. It was at this time Sasuke noticed moisture on his shirt where she had been resting her head. Sakura had been crying in her sleep.

Disturbed by another cry, Sasuke's hand rose to shake the girl firmly.

"Wake up," He ordered.

Shocked by the sudden strong voice, Sakura sat up. Her eyes had flashed open wide, tears still sliding down her cheeks. Gasping, Sakura's hands gripped at her sides. Slowly, she realized that she had awoken into reality. Her fears had only been a work of fiction. Turning her gaze to Sasuke, she offered him an apologetic look. Her eyes shimmered from the moisture.

"Sorry," she mumbled, rubbing at her wet cheeks.

Sasuke paused, unsure of how to respond to her. When she remained seated too long, he pulled at her shoulder.

"Lie down again," He commanded gently. His tone was something she was unfamiliar with.

Obeying his orders, Sakura settled herself beside him instead of atop of him. In the flickering firelight, she stared at him. Noticing the wet spot on his shirt, she frowned.

"Sorry for crying on you."

"Quit."

Sakura knew his one word reply really meant, "Quit apologizing. I am not upset with you." She smiled a bittersweet smile. Sasuke was strangely affectionate in his own way. He did not ask her what she had been dreaming off, nor did he offer any words of comfort. Instead, he turned onto his side to face her. Giving her a strange look, his hand came to rest on her neck. His eyes closed, a gesture that they should return to their slumber.

The wind continued to howl outside. His hand remained against her neck heavily, but in a comforting, delightful way. His gesture lightened Sakura, relieving her from the stress of her subconscious. Smiling, she whispered soft pillow talk to Sasuke.

"You're really sweet sometimes."

"Aa."

Her smile widened, entertained by his talent for the one word response.

"It's so strange. When you were gone, I used to dream you were still home. You would be training with me and Naruto like always, and we'd be doing our regular routine."

Her voice had turned wistful.

"But then, I'd wake up and remember you were gone. Of course, I'd cry. I didn't want to, but I couldn't help it."

He opened his eyes at her. Their eyes met, but he did not forbid her from speaking any more.

"Now that you're home, I start having dreams about destruction and war. Then, I cry in my sleep. Isn't that the stupidest thing? There's nothing wrong, but I still end up crying!"

Sasuke's eyes looked guilty. Part of him knew he had been the instigator of the majority of stress in her lifetime. To her surprise, he responded.

"When I was gone, I'd dream of being in Konoha."

"Yeah?"

He nodded.

"Do you dream of being away now that you are back?"

"No."

Sasuke wished he was the kind of person who spoke his mind aloud. He wished he was a tad bit more sentimental, and then he could comfort her much better. He'd be able to tell her how relieved he was that she was still affectionate toward him. He could tell her how he was happy sleeping beside her. Perhaps if he were bold enough, he'd imply to her how they should sleep together more often. He would never be lonely if he constantly had a pretty girl beside him. Even if that pretty girl had a tendency for kicking in her sleep.

But Sasuke was not the kind of person. He would never be the type for long talks. Instead, he pulled her close again in attempt to silence her. While he was not an overly affectionate person, he had a soft spot for Sakura. He knew deep down that he loved her and not because of any one thing about her. He loved her loyalty and her faithfulness, but he also enjoyed her fiery temper. He hated how she was constantly an exception to his rules, but there was no helping it.

Sakura smiled against his chest. She launched herself against his neck, mumbling more words to him. Her pink lips brushed against his skin as she spoke.

"Sorry for harping on the past so much tonight. I just want you do know how thankful I am, I guess. I know it gets annoying to you after awhile. You're doing quite well with not snapping at me about it."

"You're lucky. Now, shut up."

Sakura giggled, echoing pleasurably in Sasuke's ears. As a token of appreciation, she leaned forward to kiss his cheek. Before her lips reached the skin of his cheek, Sasuke shifted his head to prevent her from landing in the neutral territory. Sakura's eyes opened and widened in shock when she felt her lips brush against Sasuke's. His lips moved against hers tenderly, sealing a smooth kiss between them.

Sasuke did not know what had overcome him, but he could not help himself any more. Her laying close to warm his body had seemed to thaw him against his choice to not become romantically invested in her. Sakura's heart skipped a beat, unsure of the sudden burst of affection. Her stomach did flip-flops. So deep in confusion, Sakura had forgotten to react to the short kiss. Sasuke pulled away, not amused that his choice for affection when unreturned.

He was about to become growly and mean when the girl launched herself against his lips. Her tongue slid against his lower lips, instantly quenching any fire he felt in anger. Satisfied by her passionate reaction, Sasuke slipped his hand into her hair to force her closer. His tongue touched against hers, making her whimper happily.

That night, despite the blizzard outside, the pair was warmed entirely. From their hearts to their bodies, they felt entwined. Sasuke and Sakura united that night physically, perhaps in a primal way that was always inevitable between them.

For an entire night and many nights that followed, Sasuke rarely felt lonely.

X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

Author's Notes:

This took me forever to decide to finally submit. I kept trying to make sure it was different enough from the Sakura version to keep things interesting. Some repetition, however, was unavoidable. Other things I wanted to repeat like dreams being influential. I wanted the tales to parallel one another, but not to be the same story. I'm not sure how I feel about this… It's certainly darker than the Sakura version. I just don't trust myself with writing more dramatic pieces though.

Anyway, let me know what you think! : ) Reviews are loved and appreciated.

There's a short little blurb on my next project on my profile page! Go ahead and check it out!