"Remind me again: why on earth was I so eager—and so intent on reuniting Team Seven, if only for a simple, B-ranked mission?" a rather irritated pink-haired kunoichi demanded to know, her piercing stare fixed on the three men standing before her.
The concept seemed almost unfathomable to her now—which was, for the lack of a better word, weird, considering the sneaky manner in which she had wormed her way under Tsunade's skin and beyond in order to get her to approve of the old genin formation to be given an assignment together. The older woman had been reluctant to give in—and only now could the pinkette see why that was.
Why was it that, even after all these years, she was still unable to look objectively upon her old teammates? Why was it that, after so many times she ended up disappointed, she still hoped that they could change—actually mature?
"Naruto might have had a certain influence," her old teacher offered innocently, his mask-clad nose buried behind his ever-present, little orange book.
Sakura's eyebrow twitched in annoyance. "Right," she concluded tersely, sarcastically, her hands on her hips.
While it was true that Naruto's enthusiasm could prove to be a little contagious at times, the pinkette was convinced that it had played a minor role in this particular situation.
Her boys had wanted to go on a mission together, and she could never truly get herself to deny them anything—it was as simple as that. But just like she had the courage to ask a question they all knew the answer to, they could also have the decency to speak the truth. But of course, they were entirely too proud and conceited for that—harsh words for Naruto, true for the man inside of him.
"You know, there are times like these when I would punch you all into oblivion, really."
And with that final passionate declaration, she turned around and promptly disappeared into the thick woods that surrounded them. It was early September, and while the weather had yet to chill considerably, golden leaves were already beginning to make their appearances. A few minutes spent admiring the subtle beauty of the scenery should be enough for her temper to cool down, and her anger to dissipate. She would not want to start mutilating them the moment she stepped back into the clearing. That would be unacceptable, no matter how annoying they all were.
Sakura had never, ever thought that the future would find her feeling such things for her beloved team, but being around them was getting more and more frustrating with each and every second passing by.
A strong bond tied them all together, and the interaction between her teammates—the bickering, the punches thrown, the playful shoves, the teasing—was usually amusing to watch. She was fond of the way they behaved towards each other, and admittedly, whenever she was separated from them, she missed them.
But having to spend three weeks with two young men that could pick out a fight from the smallest, most insignificant things, and an older one who preferred to read porn books rather than ensure that his ex-students would not kill each other was putting a strain on her already short temper. To be honest, it amazed her that her patience had actually lasted so much. She was getting better at this, it seemed.
Taking a deep breath, Sakura willed herself to calm down. She was tired, and even if she weren't, she would still need her rest. Tossing and turning around in her sleeping bag, unable to sleep because of the anger that burned wildly through her veins was most definitely not an option. She had been there once—and none of them had enjoyed the experience very much.
A small huff of annoyance escaped her lips at the sudden realization that, if things came down to that, she would not even be tossing and turning in her own sleeping back, but rather in the one that she would have to share with the famous Uchiha prodigy.
While it would be a stretch to say that they were enemies—or anything like that—Sasuke and Sakura were not exactly on good terms, either. She cared about him; she liked to think he cared about her, as well. But he was stubborn and arrogant and never really stopped looking down on people, and Sakura had made it clear from the very beginning that she would not stand for that anymore.
She had had a choice, of course. All of them had. Their assignment being an escort mission, one of them had been forced to carry the backpack—better said, baggage—of their protégée, which meant that, as a consequence, someone would either have to sleep under the stars, on the cold, hard ground, or snuggle with one of his teammates for the night.
Kakashi, being the leader of the team, had calmly and confidently stated that, since he was the oldest, he was entitled to a tent and a sleeping bag of his own. Sakura had not bothered to point out that, while he was older, she was a woman—and that common sense should actually let her have that damned tent.
Which left the rest of them with three other options. Being the most level-headed in situations such as this one, the pinkette had taken it upon herself to make the final decision. There was no way Naruto and Sasuke could fit in the same sleeping bag, even if said sleeping bag was a double one, and even if they agreed to be knocked down—and therefore stopped from fighting the whole night—and Sakura would much rather deal with the arrogance of a certain raven-haired bastard, than have to put up with his best friend's snoring (and wandering hands).
Sasuke had protested, of course, obviously not being of the same opinion, but a sharp remark from her as to how he could be the one to share a tent with the knucklehead ninja if he really wanted the situation to be any different had immediately shut him up.
And now here she was, sitting on a rock in the middle of the forest, making countless promises to herself as to how she would never give in her old team's pleads—it was actually improper to even call them that. Somehow, though, she knew that her resolve would only last until they got home. Then she would practically be putty in their hands once more.
Exhaling heavily, she stood up and slowly began her short journey back to the camp-site. Upon reaching her destination, she realized that she had spent more time away than she had initially estimated; her surroundings were practically deserted, the only evidence of their temporary residence being the still-flickering fire and the three tents that had been set up in her absence. By the looks of it, her teammates had already turned in, the exhaustion that had accumulated over the duration of their long journey only now making its presence known. Since they were officially within Fire Country and the risk of being attacked was minimal, they had decided that there was no need for them to set a watch that night; in case the unpredictable happened, they had set a few traps and cast a genjutsu over the area.
Slipping quietly into their assigned tent, the first thing she noticed was her teammate's large frame spread over half of the sleeping bed. Against her better judgment, she smiled. Despite the feelings he evoked inside her with his words and actions, this was something that could not be denied, even in the most annoying of situations—Sasuke was never cuter than he was when he slept. In the years that followed his return to Konoha, she'd had the opportunity to come across such sights every once in a while, and they never failed to bring a smile to her face.
Moving quietly, she changed out of her uniform and into an oversized shirt she had stolen from her father a few years before. She did her best not to stare at his well-built chest as she pulled back the covers and quickly lied down on her side of the sleeping bag—her back to him, for safety reasons. She had learned, quite a long time ago, that Sasuke never slept with a shirt on, not even in the dead of the winter—and ever since she saw him at Orochimaru's lair three years ago, she had never ceased to be aware of that perfect six-pack he happened to own.
Biting down on her lower lip, she tried to make as little noise as possible as she settled into their makeshift bed, but in her ears, the covers rustled too loudly, and the damn pillow, aside from being too slouchy for her tastes, just didn't seem to meld the way she wanted. It took her a moment to realize that she was actually nervous.
The two of them had grown closer over the years—that was undeniable—but this was the very first time she shared a bed with him. They had shared a room, and he had seen her with nothing but her underwear on; they had been pressed against each other in the most cramped of hiding places. But that was as far as their 'familiarity' went in this domain.
Sakura sighed. She had no idea what it was about this man that could still make her feel like the giddy thirteen-year-old she had once been, but it was there, and that was probably the only thing that mattered. Although she would never act on her feelings again, it was still disconcerting enough to know that they were there, inside of her, that they existed, and that even though she could now hide them perfectly well, all they needed was a little prompting to resurface and work havoc upon her nerves.
Taking a deep breath, she willed her tense muscles to loosen and her coiled body to relax. She needed this rest—and she would be damned if she allowed him of all the people to take it away from her. With that thought in mind, she closed her eyes and snuggled deeper into her pillow, pulling the blanket tighter against her—all of the while trying to ignore the faint warmth that the body beside her oozed out.
She was almost asleep by the time a strong arm encircled her waist and pulled her close to its body, thumping her gently against a very warm, very well-built—and very bare—chest.
It took her a few moments to grasp what had just happened. Green eyes wide open, mouth slightly agape, she stared blankly at the green material that made up their shelter for the night. For a long while, she was convinced that she was dreaming. She even pinched her arm a few times in an effort to get rid of the torturous fantasy.
But while she slowly came to terms with the fact that she was once again wide awake, she realized that, unlike her, the famous Uchiha was deep within the throes of sleep. His warm breath was fanning against the sensitive skin of her neck, and she was close enough that she could feel the matching, rhythmic movements of his chest against her back.
As a large smile threatened to spread onto her features, the pinkette had to bit her lip to keep herself from squealing.
Who would have thought, right? Uchiha Sasuke—the Uchiha Sasuke—cuddling in his sleep, hugging her to him like his most prized teddy bear. If that wasn't hilarious, Sakura didn't know what was.
The new, witty part of her—a part that had steadily grown bigger as her confidence increased—immediately jumped to one very interesting, very practical conclusion: the next time he tried to condescend her in that frustratingly monotonous way of his, the Uchiha would undoubtedly have a very big surprise. And with their other teammate's big mouth, she would have him wrapped around her little finger for the rest of their existence—or until he had no other option than to share a sleeping bag with the loudmouth himself.
Sakura giggled out loud at the mere thought of the two of them sharing a bed. For some reason or another, she had only now truly entertained the idea.
But then his arms tightened around her, his legs tangled with her own, and his face promptly buried itself into the crook of her neck, a content exhale escaping his lips. And just like that, all of her plans went directly to hell.
This was getting ridiculous, she thought with a slight roll of her eyes, the way he could bend her at his will.
But despite that, her eyes closed, a soft smile appeared on her features, and one of her hands came to rest on the forearm that was holding her so tightly against him.
After all, blackmailing him, seeing that expression of utter shock, annoyance, and frustration on his face—expression that she knew he sometimes gave to Naruto when he was being particularly loud and that amused her beyond what words could describe—and knowing that he deserved that more than he had deserved being punched six ways to Sunday when he returned home… well, all that had nothing on this.
My take on the popular plot of an adorable, cuddly Sasuke.