prompt: #1 "Always, All ways."
pairing: NaruSaku

"You don't want this, Naruto. Not really."

His eyes are boring into hers, hard. The blue is immovable.

"You—you think you're getting this other version of me, someone from a time that doesn't exist anymore. That girl you thought you fell in love with when you were a kid, that's not me now. I'm not helpless or looking for any kind of salvation. Naruto, you have no idea—"

"Stop." The single word is whispered, barely discernable above her rising voice, but Sakura stops to listen. No one ever thinks of ignoring him when he speaks like that.

He says her name, omits the familiar suffix, moves closer, backing her against her living room wall. "Sakura," he whispers again. She wonders why her name on his lips has always sounded like a prayer.

"I know you," and closer, "I might not know a lot of things, like where the scapula is or what antidotes cure the five most common poisons or why the sky is blue but you—I know Haruno Sakura."

Naruto stops, head tilted, leaning in, warm breath brushing over her face, "I've studied Haruno Sakura, and I'd like to think that I know her very well."

Sakura can't help it, she swallows, flushing under the intense way he watches the slim column of her throat ripple with the movement. One large, tanned hand drifts from the wall to settle on her shoulder. His eyes are intently trained on hers once more.

"I know that you can shatter mountains with the same hands that can put muscles and nerves and organs back together, I know that you like mornings the best because you always drag me with you to watch the sunrise. I know that you like tea better than coffee even though you're always drinking that stuff black because you need the quick boost to stay awake. I know your favorite lotion smells like green tea and I know you hate licorice," pausing, voice low, his hand moves to brush a strand of hair from her face, "I know that you're human and that you make mistakes, but ultimately you have one of the kindest, most loyal hearts I've ever known. You're my best friend, even if sometimes the things I want to do to you…the things I feel about you aren't what best friends are supposed to feel about each other at all."

His speech has a devastating effect on her. With every word she can feel him digging deeper, peeling her apart layer by layer until she is laid bare for the taking, heart red and pulsating, bleeding regrets and wants that she knows she has no right to feel.

"Sakura-chan, I want you."

He would've worn her down eventually, she thinks, sighing, giving in, long, white arms rising to loop themselves behind his back. She can feel the strength in his broad shoulders and the muscles of his back, in the deft fingers that are now cupping her cheek gently. When she leans in, lips murmuring against the strong line of his jaw, she feels his exhale rumble through her chest.

"Always?" she asks.

"All ways," he breathes back.

a/n: The beginning of my fanfic50 anthology for the community on LJ. This has actually been backlogged for a while...Most will be narusaku, but sometimes I'll stray into gen territory (aka expect Team7 angst/fluff too). Thoughts are appreciated. :)