s h i f t


It is a cloudy afternoon when it happens. Naruto is laying on the couch in her living room; she sits in the chair, trying to get past the fifth page of her book. He twists his neck to see her, and his clear blue eyes open lazily.

"Would it be too cliché if I said that you're the only thing I want right now?"

A few months ago, she probably would have punched him for talking like that, but they've changed. She's not quite sure what they are now, but they've passed one line, and they probably won't know until they're past the next. Sakura laughs, and rolls her eyes, not meeting his. "Yeah, and I wouldn't believe you anyway."

"Why not?" he asks curiously, stretching slightly.

"Because."

"That's not an answer."

"I know you."

"Yeah, I hope so."

She closes her book, realizing that her struggle to move past that same line is hopeless. Naruto demands her full attention. "I mean, I know you want other stuff. Ramen, to be Hokage...to keep breathing...probably something to drink..."

"It would be nice if you'd bring me something," he admits, with a gleam in his eye.

"See? Obviously I'm not the only thing you want."

"But, Sakura-chan," and she knows she's in for it because he's using her name, "I don't need all of that stuff like I need you."

"Oh, so now we're on 'need'. That's a different thing," she says, shaking a finger at him. Sakura has turned to look at him fully, and she isn't entirely sure when this happened.

He shifts to a sitting position. "Do you have any objections to that, then?"

"You can't just go changing verbs on me!"

"But—"

"Besides, I think you might need air and water and food more than you need me."

"You underestimate your power over me, Sakura-chan," he says, and she thinks he might be serious.

"If I recall correctly," she counters confidently, "you managed to spend two years without me. Try doing that with air."

"But I don't want air, I just happen to need it."

"We're back at want? I thought we covered this."

"Fine." Naruto crosses his arms childishly. "I don't love air."

A tint of blush covers her cheeks. "You love ramen, though. And...and being a ninja. And Kakashi-sensei. And...Sasuke."

"That's different, though."

"Who says?"

"I love you. You know."

She traces a pattern on her leg. "Yeah...I love you too."

"I know."

Sakura thinks this is when he's supposed to kiss her, but he doesn't. He doesn't need to. Instead, he settles back on the couch. She picks up her book again. The air tastes different when she breathes in, and she breathes easier now that she's told him what he knew all along. The shift is gentle, but persistently present. She scuffs out the line behind them with her heel and together, they walk on to the brighter skies that await them.