a/n: dfghjkl my eyes are half-closed. So I'm pretty sure this sucks a bit because I've written the last two color scenes while half-sleeping. LOL. So sorry.
thanks to: the ever wonderful smos, who never ceases to be amazing! THANK YOU, STELLA. She beta'd the first half, so any additional mistakes are mine.
for: the general girl and fading ink, who I love fiercely and who keep me inspired with their lovely writing - and who ship this pairing so hard, it literally makes me flail in my seat. NaruSaku rocks!
Colors of a Heart
They were fifteen when she first realized that the blue in Naruto's eyes were the exact color of the sky when he was happy, and the exact color of the dark ocean when he was grieving.
He had been very happy when she surprised him with a birthday cake – one she baked with the help of Ino, who kept complaining that she didn't get why Sakura would bake the blond boy a cake when treating him to ramen would make him just as happy. But Sakura was determined. Ramen was ramen - it was there all the time, accessible anytime, and not at all special when one ate it daily. Sure, it was Naruto's favorite food, but…
"Sakura-chan! This is awesome! Wow! Thank you so much!"
The baking was all worth it when she saw his eyes light up, and his mouth gobble up the whole chocolate cake in one sitting (and no, she didn't have to lecture him about gluttony and stuff like that because it was his special day).
The next day, news came from the Hokage that a body was found in a ditch in another hidden village, and it was identified as none other than their missing teammate. Beside him, dead as well, was Madara.
The major threat to Konoha was gone.
She expected him to rage and destroy everything in his path, to let his temper out in the best way he knew – by physically venting until bruises filled his body and he became unconscious from the pain.
Instead, he locked himself in his apartment and stayed there for days, never letting people in despite the Hokage's threat to remove him from the roster and Sai's warning that this made him seem all the more dickless to everyone's eyes. Kakashi, as predicted, was nowhere to be found (probably venting in his own strange way), so she took it upon herself to break down his door – literally – and rant at him.
She found him in a fetal position in his bed, where the lights were turned off and the window shades were drawn, allowing darkness to consume him and to leave him in peace. She ranted, alright – about how irresponsible he was, about how worried they all were, about how he probably hadn't taken a bath since he heard the news and was stinky as hell.
When she was finished, she waited for him to tell her to get out, to leave him alone, to stay out of his business.
"Come here, Sakura-chan," he said wearily.
She trembled. Then she climbed in bed with him and let him hug her. He was cold and warm at the same time, and there were tears rubbing against her skin.
"We mourn together. We always have," she whispered.
"I know, I know."
"I didn't know what to do. I needed you."
She had been worried about him, but she was selfish, too – and as Naruto rocked her and hugged her tighter, she let herself finally feel the emotions she kept locked away.
She broke down and grieved with him.
They were sixteen when he first kissed her.
It wasn't the romantic kind of kiss, to say the least – well, not from his viewpoint. They were training with Sai and Neji (whose team had left for a mission while he was recuperating in the hospital), fighting in pairs while Kakashi watched on from under a tree – not that the guy actually watched, considering how glued his eyes were to this red porn book from a new author he had just discovered. Pretty soon, Sai and Sakura left the fight, grumbling because Neji and Naruto seemed to be locked in some kind of silent competition. It was like Sasuke and Naruto all over again, and for a moment, she smiled at the memory, the pain already dull.
"I'm betting long-haired woman wins over dickless," Sai deadpanned, expression showing hints of curiosity and interest. He was getting better at that.
Sakura smirked. "Wanna bet?"
Sai tilted his head in confusion. "Aren't we already betting?"
"Yeah, yeah. Want to make it more tangible?"
"What do you want if you win?"
"No ugly nicknames from you. And a free lunch. And what's yours?"
"One month supply of purple painting tools. All shades."
"I've used mine up."
Sakura grinned. "You're on." Cupping her hands over her mouth, she yelled, "You hear that, Naruto? Win it for me!"
From his short-range combat with the Hyuuga genius, the blond grinned and screamed that I am going to make you so proud, Sakura-chan! This is in the bag!
Half an hour later, he almost lost the training match as Neji served him with a new jutsu.
An hour later, Neji was on the ground, grumbling and unable to stand up and fight again.
Sai, with no expression on his face, said, "He must really be a woman."
Sakura glared, not liking the implication at all (maybe she should teach the artist about the equality of men and women when she had time). Then she turned to the battle scene, raising her hands in the air and—
Bumping into something sweaty and solid.
Then she felt something on her lips, brief and firm and tasting of toothpaste and ramen before she was let go, and Naruto was running back to Neji to help him up and to gloat.
"Thanks for the cheer, Sakura-chan!"
Dazed, the pink-haired kunoichi blinked her eyes. The tingle came slow, all the way from her lips down to her toes. She could still taste him, and even smell him – a lingering scent of musk and something darkly male.
Belatedly, she realized what her reaction meant. She stared at Sai in horror.
Sai stared back, completely clueless.
She was in trouble.
They were seventeen when she dreamed of him almost every night.
Sometimes, it was the innocent kind of dream – just hints of his blue eyes and that overtly messy hair and maybe even his laughter, all lighting up a room like only a sun really could.
Sometimes, it was not so innocent – shadows and blurs of something sweaty and hot, leaving her aching all over when she woke up.
One time, she dreamed he was seducing her, whispers of naughty words drifting through her ears and long, skilled fingers touching her everywhere.
I'm going to eat you, Sakura-chan.
She woke up wet to that one, trembling and wanting more.
Every other weekend, the remaining Team Seven always had this ritual where they went to Ichiraku for some ramen and bonding time. It wasn't official, but they came there anyway when they were not out on missions. Bonding time usually included some yapping between Naruto and Sai, some scolding from Sakura, and some confusing and mysterious quips from Kakashi.
"Two ramen bowls, please!" Naruto declared enthusiastically, rubbing his palms together and licking his lips. The action made Sakura stare for a moment before his next words had her nearly toppling over.
"I want to eat. I'm so hungry."
It sounded innocent, even enthusiastic – so why was she thinking different thoughts altogether?
One that involved his mouth, and his tongue, and—
"Sakura-chan, what flavor would you like?"
Anything. Just…just your mouth—
She snapped out of her thoughts and hastily ordered shrimp-flavored, ignoring the puzzled look Kakashi was throwing her way. She forgot her dreams and they caught up with each other's lives, and two hours later, the blond was dragging her grocery-shopping for more ramen.
"It's essential to my existence, Sakura-chan. Plus it's very healthy and convenient to cook."
Rolling her eyes, she reluctantly followed him towards the noodle aisle, patiently waiting and chatting about her odd patients of the week while he asked questions and frowned over the many brand selections and flavors. He commented that she looked healthy and good, and that he was glad to see it. She returned the compliment, eyeing his black shirt and orange pants, laughing as she thought that some things never changed.
"Nothing," she replied.
He grinned, showing teeth with semi-sharp edges before he went back to his noodle scrutiny.
Her eyes never leaving his pants, she wondered why the color orange suited him perfectly well when it should have clashed with his yellow hair – even his blue eyes, for that matter. But it didn't. The previously too-loose cargo pants had evolved through the years, fitting his physique just right and encasing his thighs in a not-too-tight way. Fascinated, she let her gaze wander down to his feet – he was wearing the standard shinobi sandals, open-toed and slightly worn. His toes were tanned, clean, and his feet were long. She remembered the saying that men with big feet came with a big—
No. Stop that. Stop.
He bent down to grab something from the lower shelf, and those orange pants strained over a well-shaped ass that made her mouth go dry.
"Are you okay, Sakura-chan?"
She reeled back and tried to tone down her flush, begging whatever Kami was up there to stop this nonsense that was invading her mind and let her have peaceful, innocent dreams from now on. Her knees were slightly shaking, and she begged that they stop it, too.
"I'm fine, Naruto. Come on, make your choice now – we have to get going."
But she never looked at orange pants quite the same way again.
They were eighteen when her daydreams started to shift into uncontrollable lust, and sometimes jealousy.
When she saw very nice and beautiful people like Hinata be all sweet with Naruto (and not the slutty kind of sweet – everything about Hinata spoke of sincerity and gentle loveliness) and Naruto respond to it with his own friendliness, and maybe something a bit more, she couldn't help the ugly green monster that popped out of nowhere, displaying its claws and hissing like a snake bigger and more vicious than Orochimaru had ever been. It never displayed itself outwardly, but it was there, lurking in the corners as inner Sakura either tried to reprimand it or fan its flames.
She wanted to talk to Ino more than anyone in the world without mentioning names, but sometimes the blonde had a way of finding out anyway, so she refrained. She wasn't ready for the world to find out.
She ended up talking to Sai instead.
"Do you think I'm mean, Sai?"
The artist nin merely tilted his head, looking at her in his own version of a confused expression.
"You know, as in cruel? Selfish?"
"What do you mean, ugl – Sakura?"
She sighed. "I mean, what do you think of me?"
She scowled. "Well, duh. I know you already think that. I meant my attitude."
He seemed to contemplate this over before replying.
"Well, you have a terrible temper. And sometimes you're rude and act like a man."
"Sai, if you're trying to trigger that temper right now—"
"But you're also very kind-hearted. And brave."
She stared at him, surprised. Then she smiled, her spirits lifting.
"Really? Am I desirable?"
He squinted at her. "You mean…like the Icha-Icha ladies?"
She blushed at that. "Never mind, Sai."
The next day, she found out that Naruto had punched Sai. When asked why, he was raving on about how Sai had insulted Sakura and said she was desirable as the Icha-Icha ladies.
For some reason, the fact that he would disagree pissed Sakura off.
The night after that, some new bar had opened with free drinks for all shinobi, and Ino had decided to drag Sakura before the medic nin turned into an old spinster. She also made Sakura wear this tiny yellow dress that emphasized her eyes and showed more skin than she was used to.
The compliments were endless.
From Kiba: "You look like one foxy momma, Sakura."
From Lee: "Oh, my beautiful blossom! You have bloomed like the sunniest of all flowers in the world!"
From Hinata: "You look great, Sakura."
From Sai: "Desirable dress."
And then Naruto came in, greeting everyone that he knew (which was a lot) before heading straight for the bar stool she was sitting in. He took one look at her dress and brilliant smile, and promptly began to tell her the exact opposite of what she wanted to hear.
"Sakura-chan, why are you wearing that? That's not appropriate."
Her brilliant smile faded. She stared down at her outfit, frowning.
He sighed. "No, it's not." Taking off his orange-black jacket, he then proceeded to cover her up before sitting beside her and ordering a cup of sake. Then he was grinning again, apparently very happy with his made adjustments.
"It clashes with my dress," she complained.
"Then maybe you should take off that dress," he said before gulping down the contents of his cup.
Maybe he was just too innocent-minded to notice the innuendo in his words, or maybe she was just too dirty-minded at the moment – nevertheless, it was this statement that prompted her to remove the jacket and order a cup for herself.
He placed the jacket back on her shoulders. She removed it again.
This went on for almost an hour, in between catching up and jokes and whatever they could talk about, until one hour became three and the world began to become bright and very beautiful.
"That was hilarious!" Naruto roared at one of the lamest jokes she cracked, which had her giggling and almost falling off her stool.
"W-we need to go home," she said in between hiccups and sake cups.
"No, it's too early! More drinks!"
Three hours became four, and pretty soon they were stumbling on the streets - her trying to make sense of the road in front of her and him supporting her with his weight.
"W-why are you not druuuunk?"
He grinned. "The fox takes care of that."
"Not for me – whoa, steady, steady. Sakura-chan, you're an adorable drunk."
"I hate choooo."
Five minutes later, they finally arrived at her apartment and he had to rummage through her handbag to get her key – which was pretty hard, considering how she was trying to tickle him and blow raspberries in his ear. Inside they went, and he began to boil water for her before he sat on her couch with a plop. On her end, she was still trying to remove his jacket. The moment she did, she triumphantly tossed it in his direction and began to untie the top strings of her dress. She was unsuccessful.
"Sakura-chan, come sit here and rest. You can change tomorrow when you wake up."
He said it so casually, without any hint of malice, that it triggered something inside her that made her stop her movements, and look at him. Suddenly, she wasn't so dizzy anymore as she pivoted from her spot and plopped down on the couch – right on his lap.
His eyes widened in surprise and his hands moved to grab her. But before he could, she was already trapping his wrists and enforcing chakra to hold him in place.
"Um, hey?" he said, laughing nervously. "You're drunk. Maybe you should be more careful with your chakra? You might accidentally break my bones."
Ignoring him, she frowned as she concentrated her chakra on her fingertips, then adjusted her weight. Straddling him was unusual for her, but his lap was warm, and she felt that she could get used to this. She wiggled her butt, trying to ease into a more comfortable position.
Easing down some more, she leaned closer until she could see the flecks of dark blues in his eyes. "Hmm?"
"What are you doing?"
His lips were moving, and they were mesmerizing. Trying to resist, she placed her head on his neck instead, embarrassed and aroused and confused at the same time. Her chakra didn't falter, and her butt didn't stop moving until she felt something hard underneath her, growing and growing and making her whimper.
She couldn't resist. She couldn't. It was asking too much at her current state.
And so Sakura did what she'd been wanting to do since she'd first realized that her addiction for Naruto was not going to go away anytime soon – she kissed him. She kissed him and kissed him and let him feel the roaring in her head and the beating of her heart, and the tingling his warmth was bringing to every single cell in her skin. She felt him stiffen, and almost lost her confidence – oh, Kami, back off now, back off—
He kissed her back.
Her memory was hazy of what happened next, but when she woke up the next day, she found herself in bed, with her cover tucked all around her and her dress still intact. When she sat up and finally recovered some of the memories, her cheeks turned a deep, deep pink.
She remembered him kissing her back.
She remembered herself begging him to touch her, to make her stop aching.
She remembered finally untying her strings, and showing him her bra.
She remembered releasing the chakra hold she had on him.
She remembered his fingers lowering her bra straps, and his mouth sucking on her neck and—
Her breath hitched at what she remembered next.
Fingers, setting aside her panties at her request, and touching her at her wet core. She remembered liking it, wanting it, and sobbing out his name. Then…she remembered nothing else.
The next week, when they saw each other again, he pretended nothing happened.
She did the same.
They were nineteen when things finally went back to normal – or at least, as normal on the surface as they always had been.
He was mostly out on missions, and she was mostly busy with hospital work. Whenever they met up, it was usually with the team, and that bonding brought on a certain kind of comfort that Ino, despite being her best friend, could just not provide.
One time, on Sai's birthday, the artist nin treated them to this cozy restaurant that he unfortunately forgot to make reservations with. They ended up crowded in the smallest table, with Sakura crammed beside Naruto and alternately wishing she could run away and wanting to stay there. He didn't seem to feel the discomfort she was feeling, messing around as usual and even putting his arms around her shoulders twice, giving her his platonic affectionate squeeze.
But Sakura was relentless.
At Ino's beach birthday bash, she asked Naruto to accompany her to the clothing shop as she picked out the perfect swimsuit to wear. Her first motive for asking him instead of a girl was simple, really – to see how a guy would view her choice.
Her second motive—
"How do I look, Naruto?"
The mint green two-piece she picked out wasn't the sexiest she found, but its color complimented her eyes and didn't clash with her hair. She watched his eyes flick to her outfit before going to her face, a brief smile escaping his mouth as he stood up and told her to hurry up, we're gonna miss all the fun.
That brief smile turned into an ever-bright grin when he greeted the others at the beach and sat beside Hinata and Kiba, joking around and telling the Hyuuga girl she looked very pretty in her simple summer dress.
Her green-eyed monster was so intense, she had to take a deep breath to try to make it go away. She sat beside Ino and Sai, delighted in watching the two snipe at each other playfully and Shikamaru observe at the sidelines, obviously bored.
Naruto ignored her the whole day, turning her delight into utter disappointment – then, eventual anger. What had she done wrong? Why was he avoiding her?
Why couldn't he just see her?
Their daytime partying turned into night swimming, and pretty soon she just let it rest another day and went in the water with the girls while the boys played volleyball – their own chakra-enhanced version of it, at least.
It wasn't until she went out of the water and heard a buzzing sound beside her that she heard Naruto's faint watch out before something whizzed past her neck. With something akin to fascination, she stared down, and watched in almost slow motion as the straps of her bikini was cut, and it fell off—
She realized that their volleyball was loaded with spikes (this was their own version of the game, it seemed), and at the same time, felt something warm wrap around her and practically carry her out of the area before the others could see her bared right before them. Her top lay on the sand, forgotten.
Oh, Kami. That would have been embarrassing.
"Stop being so distracted next time, Sakura-chan."
His matter-of-fact voice snapped her out of her stupor. She belatedly saw that he had taken her to the nearest dressing room before he practically threw a towel at her and told her to cover up. She blushed, opening her mouth to say something – but then he started walking away.
It was too much. He was too much. The anger that built up finally exploded, making her stalk towards him and grab him by the shoulder to pull him back. Her force caused him to nearly stumble and stare at her in surprise.
"Stop avoiding me!"
The tension in his shoulders was palpable, but he adapted an easy smile. "Avoiding you? Why would I be avoiding you—"
"You are such a liar!" she yelled, temper now coming out. One hand wrapping the towel around her, she used the other to push him back now, goading him. "Liar!"
She pushed him again.
"Sakura-chan." The smile faded now as he frowned at her. At her next push, a spark of irritation flickered on his face. It triggered her to keep pushing, both with hand and words.
"I hate you! You big jerk, you flirt, you think you're too good for your team now and flaunting yourself like some goddamn peacock."
"Fight me!" she hissed, hitting him once.
"I said figh—"
Her words were cut off as she felt something bite at her back – it was the dressing room wall, rough and wooden. Then her mouth was covered, and it didn't take her long to realize that it was his mouth shutting her up, hard and hot and very, very hungry.
She couldn't react as her breath was knocked out of her so suddenly, there was no time to get it back. But he gave her that break when he pressed his mouth to her ear, breathing harshly.
"Do you know how much effort it took me to keep my hands off you?"
Heat spread through her at his words.
"Do you know," he nipped at her earlobe, "how hard it is not to fantasize about what happened in your apartment back then? How many times it made me lose sleep, imagining doing that to you again?"
Then she answered by putting her arms around him, the towel dropping to the floor.
It was the last straw.
As if possessed, they both stopped resisting and kissed whatever they could reach. Hands moved everywhere, his hitching her up until she could wrap her legs around him. Hers, digging at his naked back and feeling the stiff knots there. He pressed closer, pushing and letting her feel the arousal beneath his swimming trunks – the heat and hardness of it was enough to have her moaning out his name, unprepared for the pleasure it brought.
It was madness. It was insanity.
She wanted more.
He growled. Then the hands that were all over her moved down to her skin, dipping inside the material covering her bottom and squeezing them. It jolted her out of his grasp – and before she knew it, it was her hands that were roaming, pulling down his trunks and touching him there.
She found out that it wasn't only grief that darkened those blue eyes. She found out that his moan could make her wild.
She didn't know at what point they made it to the wall again – but suddenly he was aligning himself to her, ready and half-trembling as well. There was a shaky are you sure from him, and he paused, eyes fixed on hers.
She pushed against him until he was inside of her, and she didn't feel any pain at all. Then he moved, slowly at first, before gaining speed and whispering words she couldn't understand in her ear, moving, just moving—
It was by accident that she glanced behind him and saw the full-length mirror hanging on the other side. She saw his naked behind, devoid of any clothing now, firm and muscled and mesmerizing as it pushed against her, as he nipped the spot between her shoulder and neck, as he groaned out her name—
She lost control, clawing at his back and clenching around him as she shattered and let herself go. It wasn't long before he followed suit, and they both almost swayed as their knees went weak at the sheer force of their orgasm.
How she handled the next few minutes was all blurry to her, really – except for when he told her that this could never happen again, because it could ruin their friendship and the dynamics of team 07 as a whole. Stupidly, she agreed, watching as he silently drew his trunks back on and helped her out with hers. Then he wrapped the towel around her and ushered her out of the room and back to their friends, like everything was normal.
Like everything was – Kami darn it– normal.
Nothing was normal anymore.
"You know we can't do this again, right, Sakura-chan?" he whispered one more time before the group could hear them.
"Yes," she lied.
They were twenty when they began to screw like rabbits whenever time allowed them to.
It began when she caught him giving her looks – not the normal ones he sported, with a big grin on his face and that playful twinkle in his eyes. This one…this one was intense, following her movements when he thought she wasn't looking and just—
Wanting to test it out, she tried things that Ino had once advised her to do when trying to get a guy's attention – not that she normally did this, of course.
Step 01: Wear the shortest skirts you have.
Step 02: Do not flirt with other guys – that's a turn off more than a turn on.
Step 03: Make sure to mention that all your underwear are in the laundry when he's around to eavesdrop on a conversation with a girl friend.
Step 04: Bend. Bend, bend, bend.
"Ugly? What's with the bending? Are you doing some exercises?"
Squeaking, Sakura immediately straightened herself out as she turned around to look at Sai, who was eyeing her blankly. The flush filled her face instantly, and she glared at him and told him to stop sneaking up on her like that.
"I wasn't sneaking up on you. You just didn't hear me."
A few minutes after Sai left, she turned around with a slump and began to arrange her latest medical reports at the Hokage's desk. Trust Naruto to be all clueless about her obvious ploys. The door opened and closed again, and the click barely registered as Sakura opened her mouth to rant at the artist nin.
"Are you trying to torture me?"
Then he was right behind her – Oh, Kami, it wasn't Sai – and putting his hands at her waist, breathing warmly in her ear.
She tried to keep her voice steady. "What are you talking about? I – Naruto!" she whispered in alarm when his hands dipped under the white skirt, and his lips started cruising over her neck. "The door – shishou—"
"…it's locked. Let me touch you."
And touch her he did. He took her right there, bent over and very willing, and she never looked at that desk the same way again.
Their other moments were as adventurous as that first one (or second, if you wanted to be technical). He had sex with her in places that normally would not have crossed her mind, as her idea of sex had always been in bed. But no – now her idea of it involved the closet, the kitchen counter, the bathtub, the training grounds, the hot springs, and the pub bathroom (among others), and it didn't take her long to become addicted.
She'd learned that the way he fought was pretty much how he had sex, too – with power and concentration, and stamina. Lots and lots of stamina. He wasn't just good at it – he was great at it, and he was unstoppable.
If she had to use one word…well, then. He was an animal.
And she loved every minute of it.
Pretty soon, she looked for him as much as he looked for her, and sometimes even initiated it herself. The first time they finally did it in bed, it was as wonderful as the risky ones and twice as long, and she realized she liked it better when she could cuddle with him afterward and talk until they were too sleepy to talk – and then, wake up to his warmth and familiar smell.
Ramen and toothpaste had never smelled as sexy as it did now.
Pretty soon, she stopped calling it sex.
And that scared her.
They were twenty-one when he almost died, and her heart almost died with him.
The news that he was back in the village after a three-month mission made a smile brighten her face – but it quickly turned to despair when the guard on duty at the gate told her that he collapsed the moment he stepped through and was bleeding all over. In a moment of panic, she rushed off from her lunch date with Ino and practically flew to the hospital, just in time to see the Hokage herself rush to the emergency room and tell her good that you're here, no longer need to summon you – now get moving and fix up the other two, and I'll call you when I'm done here. Don't come over until I say so.
The other two, Kakashi and Neji, had fractured ribs that she took her time to mend. She concentrated on her task with a sheer tenacity that kept Neji quiet, and had Kakashi hiding his red book for once. When she was done, Neji slept in his bed, and Kakashi didn't insist that he had to get out soon.
He offered to read her some porn, and she declined and didn't punch him in the face.
"I suppose he'll be okay," her ex-sensei said, looking at her curiously. "It's not like he can't self-heal, so that's an added bonus. In Icha-Icha, it's always the perverted ones who stay alive—"
"Are you talking about yourself?" she interrupted him mildly.
She tilted her head, regarding him from behind his mask thoughtfully.
"Is this your way of trying to comfort me, then?"
He shrugged, then whipped out his book. She took it from him and harassed him into going to sleep. He stubbornly refused.
Twenty minutes into the arguing, Shizune came in the room and told her she could see Naruto now – and that he was alive.
She tossed the porn back to Kakashi (much to his delight) and ran as fast as her heels could carry her.
The room was bright and the smell of antiseptic filled the air as Naruto lay in bed, bandaged all over and breathing peacefully. The relief that went through her was so intense, she had to lean against the doorframe to keep herself steady.
Tsunade watched this all from her perch by the windowsill, smirking. Then she simply told the pink-haired medic to monitor the Uzumaki brat for the next few days and went off to continue her Hokage duties.
When the door closed, Sakura finally turned to Naruto.
"You're okay," she said out loud, taking his hand. There was no response, so she repeated what she said, her heart swelling. "You're okay."
He slept like a baby. She watched on, the panic starting to melt away as she came to terms with what was in front of her.
It wasn't the love that she had for Sasuke, that unending devotion that faded with time and remained in her heart as a memory of her childhood days. No. She knew Naruto's faults, and they annoyed her to death most of the time – but at the same time, she wouldn't have it any other way.
The next day, he woke up and found her lying in the hospital bed beside him.
Groggy and tired, she blinked and found him smiling down at her.
She answered by kissing the smile right out of his face, and telling him she was glad he was well – otherwise, she would have had to beat him into revival.
He answered by laughing and pulling her closer.
Later that night, when he was sleeping again and she had to go home and get a change of clothing (and be all sneaky about it, because the hospital staff was famous for its gossip radar), she realized that since they'd both turned sixteen, no I love you's had been said.
The balance between happiness and longing was quite heartbreaking.
They were twenty-two when he angrily knocked at her apartment at two in the morning, waking her up from a very peaceful sleep (and probably the whole neighborhood) and giving her the biggest surprise of her life when he swooped in to kiss her the moment she opened the door and her mouth to lecture him.
Dazed and confused, she tried her best to pull away from him.
"I love you."
Whatever she'd been about to say was wiped completely from her mind at his words. She stared at him, speechless.
"It's the only reason why I resisted you for so long. Not just the friendship thing. It was also because I loved you and you only lusted after me."
She opened her mouth to protest.
"But Sai told me he's been reading this body language book – and he told me that you were jealous of Hinata back then, but he just figured it out now."
That was years ago. Years ago. Sai was going to die.
"I know she's almost perfect. And you're not perfect, Sakura-chan. Not at all."
Her mouth dropped open, and her brain tried to absorb it all in.
"I'm – I know that," she said steadily, "You don't have to—"
"You're the farthest thing from perfect."
"I know that—"
"Will you shut up and let me talk?"
She shut up in shock and irritation.
Naruto ran a hand through his hair, frustration in his movements and in his face.
"It's a relief you're not perfect. I love you for it. You're so blind, Sakura-chan. You're so blind. Do I have to repeat it over and over again? I love you. I love you. I lust after you like a horny little dog and I love you. None of those are ever going to change soon. I know you don't love me back—"
"—and I'm not asking you to. But nothing is going to—"
"—to change for me. Nothing. Please don't let it chase you away, and—"
"Naruto, will you shut up and let me talk?"
"—ruin this good thing between us, and—"
Finally deciding to shut him up, Sakura used her chakra advantage and hauled him inside, ignoring his startled yelp. Then she shut the door and punched him in the shoulder – hard.
"Ouch. OUCH. Sakura—"
"I love you, you big idiot. I lust after you like a horny little dog and I love you. So shut up. Just shut up and kiss me now."
He stared at her in surprise.
"You are so blind, Naruto. So blind."
The surprise turned to wonder.
"We're both idiots," he muttered.
Then the wonder turned into the brightest grin she had ever seen him give out. It was blinding, and it was just as imperfect as he was.
Her heart fell all the more.
When he took it upon himself to sweep her off her feet and carry her up the stairs – and no, it wasn't the least bit romantic, because she couldn't stop laughing and neither could he – she realized that maybe hope was a good thing. Maybe all these years of waiting was just waiting for this moment, when they were all grown up and ready to take on the world – ready to take on what all of this meant.
Maybe she didn't need to kill Sai, after all.
a/n: guysss. I found some ffn pm alerts in my yahoomail. I'll reply tomorrow. :) Also, also - pink was the last color because it's a tender moment? OH GOD, my sleepiness is making me think up weird connections. 8D
Anyway, reviews are appreciated! They make my day. :)
up next: chapter 02 of Scent (sasusaku).
*crawls to bed*