Note: So me and my friends are going to do the Color Me Rad run in June and I'm starting to train and… well, let's just say I'm starting from scratch.
Characters/Pairings: Sasuke, Sakura
Warnings: modern AU, use of the metric system


Sasuke hated cardio.

"Come on! Move it! You can do it!"

He disliked working out as much as the next person, but understood the necessity of it. Likewise, he got his fair share of exercise from the sports he played with his friends. Sure, it required quite a lot of running from him, but at least then he was having a good time.

"Sasuke-kun, hurry up!"

Not to say, of course, that spending time with Sakura wasn't just as fun.

It was great, actually. They kept each other moving, but they weren't competitive over things the way he and Naruto tended to be. Likewise, if they ever felt like talking, she didn't annoy him the way Naruto would – or, to be fair, the way she did when they were kids. And now that they were older, they rarely got to see each other. Between her work and medical school and his contemplations over where his life was going, all Sasuke got from her were one hour intervals at least four days a week.

Running with her was nice.

"Come. On!"

Or well, sort of nice.

He ignored her words. He hadn't even stopped and already Sakura had plenty to nag him about, so mostly out of spite but partly out of exhaustion, he waved a tired hand and stopped moving altogether. He leaned forward, his hands on his knees as he caught his breath. Through the curtain of his bangs, he saw the bounce of Sakura's feet, clad in a pair of bright blue shoes with yellow laces that were as obnoxious as her hair.

"You have too much energy," Sasuke heaved out. He finally stood up straight and pulled out a water bottle from Sakura's so-called utility belt (she got mad when he called it a "fanny pack").

She grinned back at him before halting her in-place jogging. "I have two jobs and I'm a full-time student, yet I still have more energy than you." Sakura lifted her left leg and grabbed her ankle, holding it as she stretched. "I guess you're just getting old, Sasuke-kun." When he did nothing but frown at her, she giggled and leaned over to kiss his cheek, somehow managing this all on one foot.

When she finally set her foot back down, Sasuke tugged her along, setting them up for a brisk walk.

"How's your brother?"

"Why, want to ask him out?" Sasuke teased. She swatted his arm and he smirked. "He's fine. Still living in Rain with his Sugar Mama."

"I thought we weren't allowed to call her his Sugar Mama!"

"Yeah, well. How else could he be living in such a nice apartment and go out as often as he does while not having a paying job?"

"Starving himself?"

"She's in the paper business. And the being rich business."

"So then she's actually his Sugar Mama?"

"Or Neglected Cougar. Whatever you feel like calling her."

Sakura chuckled. "Is he still working at that clinic?" Last she'd heard about her former race buddy, he was volunteering at a clinic near the poverty stricken areas of Rain.

"Yes."

"When's he coming home next?"

Sasuke shrugged. "He said he'd be back for my birthday but I'm not too sure."

"Eh, if not, we'll go visit him," Sakura suggested with a wink. "What about your mom? How is she?"

"She's…" Sasuke's walking slowed, but Sakura doubted he noticed. He eventually realized himself and shrugged. "She's fine, I guess." He ignored the pained expression on Sakura's face. He knew she wasn't going to let the matter go until he discussed it, so Sasuke sighed and admitted, "I go with her to chemo every Saturday morning. She doesn't like when my dad goes with her. She says he gets too emotional – that afterwards, when they get home, he just hugs her for hours and probably thinks about things that will only make him more depressed than he needs to be."

"I see." Sakura stopped walking and grabbed his arm, leading him to a nearby bench. "And what about you?" She smiled sadly. "I know you don't do hugging or talking, but… well, are you okay?"

Again, he shrugged. "Yeah, I guess." Her fingers smoothed over his knuckles and he felt her squeeze his hand. He turned his hand over, letting their palms touch, and mindlessly brushed her fingers with his thumb. "She's getting better. That's what the doctor said."

"Sasuke!" Something in his chest tightened at the wide smile that graced her face. God, she looked like an utter mess with her sloppy ponytail and the strands of pink falling out of it. Her forehead shone with sweat and her cheeks were splotched with red, but to Sasuke, she never looked more beautiful. But he was pulled out of her observation when she pulled her hand away from his musings and clapped merrily. "That's great to hear!"

"Yeah." When they fell into a silence, he stood up and tugged her along to resume their walking. "So are you running another race?"

Sakura nodded eagerly. "Duh!"

He rolled his eyes. "I swear you run a race every weekend."

"Close. Usually once month."

"Ah, yes, that's so different. My mistake."

"Your mistake indeed. Want to come with?"

Sasuke cringed. He'd run a total of three races with Sakura in the past. The first was in their freshman year, a simple one that had a three kilometre or five kilometre option. They were running with Naruto and Ino, so, naturally, they opted for the former. But since they were running with Naruto and Ino, they mostly walked the race. The second one had been about two years ago, called the "Around the Bay" race. That particular one kept Sasuke in bed and in pain for a good day rewatching every episode of Game of Thrones and ignoring Sakura's texts. And then the third one had been the previous summer, thankfully a lot shorter than the second one, but this time a lot more colourful. Every experience left him frustrated, in pain, or covered in corn starch, so the prospect of running with Sakura again seemed rather daunting.

She seemed to realized as much. "I promise this one isn't bad or anything!"

Sasuke snorted. "Right."

"It could be worse. One day you and I are going to do the Spartan Race, you know."

"…I don't even want to know what that is."

She laughed. "Don't worry. I'll make sure I prepare you for it."

"How long is this one?"

"Ten kilometres."

"When is it?"

"Still at the end of the month."

"What's it for?"

This time the answer came slower. The flush that had taken over her face seemed to spread further, but not from the exercise. She shrugged and looked down at her bright blue shoes before meeting his eyes and shrugging another time. "Breast cancer," she said slowly. When he blinked, Sakura smiled and linked her hand through his. "I'm a healthy person," she stated. "My body is healthy and my mind is healthy. Sure, that is, arguably, because I take care of myself, but I'm not the only healthy person because my parents are healthy too."

He seemed to flinch so her grip on his hand tightened.

"I like to help people, you know?" And he did. That's why she was going to become a doctor, he knew. The best neurosurgeon in the country. "I'm incredibly lucky to have the kind of genes that I do, but there are people who aren't so… well, I like to help how I can, so aside from the volunteer work, I run for them."

She stopped walking and took his other hand with her free one, her body just inches away from him. She was so close that he could see the different shades of green flecks in her eyes.

She stood on her toes and kissed the side of his mouth. "So this time I'm running for you and your family."

When she set her feet back down, Sasuke couldn't help but smile softly. He raised a hand, lightly cupping her cheek. Her bangs were a sweaty a mess, he observed with a smirk, but she was still perfect in his eyes he decided, so he leaned forward and kissed her forehead.

"Thank you," he mumbled against her skin, loosely wrapping his arms around her. "You're a good friend."

"Oh?" She looked up at him, mirth clear in her eyes. "I'm your friend, am I?"

And his cheeks flushed, but not from the running. "Shut up."

He tried to look annoyed but eventually returned Sakura's bright smile.

"Race you back to your place?" she suggested with a wink.

He snorted, shoved her lightly to distract her, and took off running. He heard her swear at him but only laughed and continued in his head start.

Perhaps cardio wasn't that bad – not when he had Sakura.

fin