It's just after the war with Pein, and the village is decimated. Our hero confesses his love to Sakura, but what will he do when Hinata discovers the incriminating evidence of their kiss? Romance, Comedy, Drama. Rated T+ for language. Hope you like your fanfic long! I've written up to chapter 11, and will keep writing till it's done- I'll probably post a chapter a day until I've caught up with myself.

This fanfic is pretty tame- no freaky sexual stuff, just some language and some hilarity, with a side of tasteful romance. Everything is in keeping with the Manga. I'm a professional writer, so even though this is my first fanfic I hope you'll find it's well written:) Feel free to review and let me know!

Set just after the war with Pein. Sakura's POV at first, others later.

It was late afternoon, and a faint wind rustled the canvass tents. The clouds stretched out, like long, wispy wings, pushing away the threat of rain that had hovered over the village all day. Sakura wiped her brow with her wrist, looking up at the sky. The clouds are so beautiful today she thought wistfully, admiring how the expanse of clouds stretching from horizon to horizon were painted with orange, cherry, and hints of lavender, as the sun approached its resting place in the west.

"Hey Sakura-chan, you're going to turn into Shikamaru if you keep it up!"

"Hmmm, Naruto-kun, I didn't even notice you! Either I'm really tired or the clouds are especially entertaining today..."

Naruto stood next to Sakura, who still hadn't removed her eyes from the sky, and gazed up at the clouds as well. "Are you all finished with work, Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked in a boisterous voice. Then, more softly, he asked, "How is she...?"

"You mean Lady Tsunade?"


Sakura sighed. "The same." The continued gazing at the clouds in silence for a moment. Then-

"Hey, Sakura-chan, I have a favor to ask..."

Surprised, Sakura replied "Sure Naruto, what's up?"

For the first time, she looked down from the sky and over at her companion, whose eyes were still fixed on the heavens. He looks so... Sakura tried to pin-point the exact emotion she was picking up from Naruto. Sadness? Forlorn? She wasn't sure, but it seemed like he was carrying a heavy burden today, which was strange. Lately, he had seemed so cheerful; in fact, he was the one others went to for encouragement after the decimation of the village. Sadness seemed to barely cling to his warm and even humorous disposition over the past week. Maybe the reality of the village's destruction is finally weighing on him...or maybe he's thinking of Sasuke-kun...

She let that thought trail off in the silence that hung between them. Finally, Naruto brought his gaze down from the sky to meet her own. "I'm just wondering if you'll take a walk with me?" A bit startled, Sakura replied, "Of course Naruto! Seems like you have something on you mind. But first-" Sakura smiled, "let me just grab something!" Saukra ducked inside the medical tent and came back out a minute later. "I'll bring along some instant ramen and the kettle- wouldn't want you to get hungry!" She looked over at Naruto knowingly, and she was relieved to see that he finally broke out in his customary smile. The way to that man's heart was through his stomach.

Arm-in-arm, they walked through the makeshift encampment that made up their village, heading for the outskirts of town. "Do you have a specific spot in mind?" Sakura asked. She was nervous about going to far outside the village, and also a little apprehensive about what Naruto wanted to talk about. He was uncharacteristically silent. "Oh, sorry Sakura-chan. I was thinking, there's a really nice spot to watch the sunset from...since you seem to be into looking at the clouds today." Sakura laughed, "Alright Naruto-kun, lead the way!"

They made their way up to a large tree in front of a west-facing clearing. The sun had turned blood red, staining the surrounding clouds shades of crimson and pink. As she started a small cooking fire and set the kettle to boil, Sakura casually asked Naruto, "So...what's up?" Naruto smiled and sprawled out on his back on the grass. "I don't know Sakura- I should be happy. Coming to an understanding with Pein, saving the village, becoming a hero! I know it's not complete, but I have so much to be thankful for, and yet-"

Sakura interjected, "I think it's ok Naruto! To feel what you're feeling- because after all, the village is a wreck, and Lady Tsunade still hasn't regained consciousness...Jiraiya Sensei... The Akatsuki are still on the loose. There's a lot to be stressed out about..." Sakura saw Naruto grimace, and realized that not only was she not on the right track, she was making matters worse. She tried again.

"Is it- is it about Sasuke?"

"Not exactly..."

The kettle started to whistle- Sakura got their instant ramen ready and handed a cup to Naruto. "Ah, arigato Sakura-chan!" Naruto smiled at her. At least the ramen got him to smile! Sakura thought, bewildered. What in the world was up with Kohona's number one most unpredictable ninja?

The two sat side-by-side in silence, watching the sunset and eating their ramen. "Ah, that was really good Sakura-chan!"

"Jeez, you're done already! You're going to give yourself indigestion that way!" Naruto laughed, put down his empty ramen cup, and hugged his knees into his chest. "You're probably right..." Naruto said quietly.

Sakura put down her mostly uneaten food and nudged Naruto with her elbow. "C'mon Naruto, what's eating you?"

Naruto closed his eyes briefly then turned to meet her gaze. "It's like this Sakura- I've become a hero, haven't I?"

Sakura laughed, "Don't let it go to your head, baka!" She elbowed him. Her smile softened, and she continued, "I'm so proud of you Naruto- you've always had to work harder than anyone else, pushed yourself beyond your limits- and now..." She put her arm around him. "And you've always been there for me too. I couldn't ask for a better teammate or friend." Alright Sakura! Good peptalk! Cha! Sakura thought, giving herself a mental thumbs-up.

"Ah, thanks Sakura-chan." He put his arm around her and squeezed her back. "Let me ask you something, Sakura-chan..." He trailed off for a moment, then cleared his throat. "Do you think...since I'm not a total goof you think you could love me? As more than a friend?"

The last embers of the cooking fire went out; the last rays of the sun dipped down behind the crimson sea of clouds; the crickets started chirping arrhythmically.