Warning: Spoilers for that new Road to Ninja trailer. Sort of.
Note: My heart breaks every time I see an image of Sasuke handing Sakura the rose being juxtaposed with one of him reaching out to choke her.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

While the truth is that he thinks her genjutsu theory is crazy and that she hurt herself on that mission more than she'll let on, he does agrees that she's been a little different lately. Nowadays Sasuke can get an actual rise out of her. Just weeks ago, any attempt to be close to her was shot down or met with a cool stare. Now, however, she gasps and she smiles and she blushes or she'll snap at him and yell and punch him none too gently.

Now she reacts and Sasuke's not sure how he feels about that because this bundle of emotion with Sakura's hair and with Sakura's eyes and with Sakura's voice is hardly Sakura.

But maybe she's just damaged.

This is why Sasuke plucks a rose from his mother's garden in an afterthought and rushes to Sakura's house when the sun has barely risen. Mikoto will probably be furious with him since the truth is he's done this too many times to count, but this time the rose is for Sakura – poor, damaged, confused Sakura. Sakura who he's been in love with for years, Sakura who has never let him in until recently, Sakura who actually allowed him hold her the other night when she thought she was losing her mind.

She's always been an early riser so Sasuke has no doubt that she's awake. He looks up at her room on the second floor and can see the lights on. Taking that as a sign that she's awake, Sasuke jumps onto the balcony and is greeted by the sight of Sakura in her underwear.


He immediately dodges when she throws something at him and turns around partly to preserve her modesty, but mostly to contain his embarrassment. He hears her shuffle around the room and the balcony door open wider.

"You can turn around now, idiot."

He does so and can't help but flush under her wry expression. She tightens her robe and Sasuke feels even worse. "Sorry about that," he mumbles, hands clenched at his sides in shame. A small stab from the rose reminds him of why he went there in the first place and he moves to hand it to her. He doesn't miss the way she flinches, however, when he reaches out to her. He frowns at her behaviour. "Sakura-chan?"

His voice seems to draw her out of whatever dark thoughts are whizzing through her head. "Sorry." She finally notices the rose and her eyes widen ever so slightly. He smiles faintly at the pink creeping onto her cheeks. "What's this?"

"A rose," Sasuke says with a small laugh. "It's for you."

Reluctantly, she takes the flower from him. She twirls it around in her fingers and mindlessly picks off the thorns. "What's it for?" she asks, raising an eyebrow at him.

Sasuke's smile softens. "Can't I just give you a flower, Sakura-chan?" She still looks suspicious so he shrugs. "I thought you could use something to brighten your mood."

Her eyes are drawn to the rose, however. She looks contemplative as she runs one finger up and down the stem until she finally cuts herself. She stares at the dot of blood pooling at the tip of her finger before the digit glows green and the wound closes. She wipes the blood on her robe and Sasuke frowns at the red smear staining the white cloth. He sees the way her expression is darkening and wonders if she's thinking about that other Sasuke she has in her head. Did he ever give her flowers? Judging by the thin line her lips have fallen into, he probably didn't.

"I'll always be your ally, Sakura-chan." The words come out confidently and he can't help but smile at the blush that's remained on her cheeks. "I don't care what messed up alternate reality we're in – you will always matter to me. You'll always be one of my precious people."

She stiffens at his words but nods, accepting his sentiments. They stand there silently before Sakura finally lets out a sigh. She brings the rose up to her nose and inhales the fragrant aroma.

"Is this from your mother's garden?" she asks, smiling softly.

Sasuke smirks. "Maybe."

She only shakes her head. "Well I hope you don't get into any trouble for taking this."

"If that rose made you smile, then any trouble is worth it." She looks away to try hiding her embarrassment and Sasuke's grin only widens. "Well… I'll see you later, Sakura-chan."

He jumps off the railing of her balcony and lands on the road with a small thud. Before he can make his way back to the Uchiha District, he hears her call his name. He turns around and sees her leaning languidly over the balcony, the rose dangling from her hand.

"Thank you, Sasuke," she says loudly, not at all caring about the people who may still be asleep. "For everything."

He smiles and waves before walking away.