Sakura's jaw threatened to drop all the way down to the floor as she processed what Sasuke was asking her to do. Never before had he requested such an intimate thing from her. They would be sharing the same bed. The same blanket. Sharing body heat.

Not that they hadn't in the past, but that was only when it was necessary, like when on missions. This, this was different. He was asking her to stay because he wanted her to.

She felt her face heating up as the result of all her blood redirecting from her body to her face, along with the significant speeding up of her heartbeat. Her mouth opened to reply, but she found that she didn't know what to say.

After a few moments of silence, Sasuke raised his head to look at Sakura. He looked at her with questioning onyx eyes, and Sakura somehow found herself agreeing to stay the night with him.

"O-Okay," Sakura stuttered, still in a state of shock. She blinked a couple of times in realization that she actually agreed to spend the night sharing the bed with Sasuke.

Sasuke nodded, seemingly pleased by her response. What Sakura didn't know was how her response made him overflow with relief, happiness and pride. He released Sakura's pale arm and pulled his covers aside for her to lay down.

Sakura wondered why Sasuke asked her to spend the night with him, but she decided he must have just wanted some company. He had just woken up from a nightmare, and she didn't want to upset him anymore than the nightmare had.

Sasuke watched her make herself comfortable on his bed before turning onto his side to sleep.

Sakura laid down facing the other direction. The space in between them allowed for the cold air to seep in through the middle of the blanket, and Sakura shivered slightly at the cold. She closed her eyes and willed herself to sleep, hoping that no nightmares return. She found that she didn't need to force herself to sleep, and fell into a dreamless sleep within five minutes of closing her eyes.

After listening to a few minutes of complete silence, Sasuke, concluding that Sakura was asleep, looked over his shoulder at her. Her sleeping face personified peace - she looked as if the world they lived in was one of perfection, one with no pain. Sasuke felt a sudden protectiveness over Sakura. He wanted to protect that peace-filled expression, to make sure those unbelievably soft cheeks of hers were never stained with tears ever again.

His fingers twitched, and he resisted the urge to turn and stroke her hair as she slept. He felt his eyelids getting heavier and allowed them to close as he fell into a deep sleep.

That was the best sleep both of them had since he left the village.


Sakura slowly woke up and tensed, suddenly conscious of the unfamiliar warmth wrapping around her. If anything, she should have been cold from the lack of warmth the previous night. The source of warmth moved, and if she listened close enough, she swore she could hear a pulse.

What is that? She wondered.

She gradually opened her eyes, and she almost squealed in surprise at what she saw before her. In the midst of her initial drowsiness she had forgotten that she had spent the night with Sasuke.

In the sunlight streaming through Sasuke's dark curtains, she could see that his eyes were closed and the regular scowl he wore was no longer present. The corners of Sakura's mouth quirked up, and she relished the sight before her. She had never seen Sasuke look so peaceful before, and she felt the urge to ease one of her hands through his messy hair. Her eyes trailed down his face, glancing over his lips, chin and neck before falling on his uncovered collar bone. It was then that she realized that he was shirtless. Her eyes scanned over his sculpted torso and abs.

It's like his body was sculpted by the gods, Sakura groaned inwardly, Perfect.

Her focus then went from his torso to his arms, and she then realized that his arms were wrapped around her. Her head was laying on one of his muscular arms, and his softer-than-expected hands were resting on the small of her back. As if on cue, the arms wrapped around her tightened, and Sakura found herself being pulled closer to Sasuke.

She then lay face to face to face with him, their bodies flush against each other, and faces only a few inches apart. She felt the quickening of her heart rate, the reddening of her face and the fluttering of butterflies in her stomach at their proximity. Her startled green eyes softened as she observed his face, finding that he was still sound asleep. Sakura's green eyes twinkled in delight.

She used one of her free hands to gently move strands of hair away from Sasuke's face, Who knew Uchiha Sasuke was actually a cuddler in his sleep?

Her smile slowly faded when she began to wonder how she was going to get up without waking the sleeping Uchiha. She looked around, trying to find a way for her to slip out while going unnoticed. She considered slipping out from under his arms and replacing herself with a pillow, but the leg intimately wrapped around both of hers foiled her plan.

I guess I'll just wait for him to wake up, Sakura sighed quietly in defeat.

Sasuke's eyes snapped open at the sound of Sakura's sigh. His charcoal eyes quickly observed his situation, and he immediately withdrew his arms and leg from around Sakura. He rolled away and cursed inwardly, hating his habit of hugging things in his sleep. It implied that he was an affectionate person, and Uchiha Sasuke is not an affectionate person.

Sakura wanted to pout at the loss of warmth, but understood his actions. She knew he would react uncomfortably to the physical contact.

After rolling out of bed she yawned and greeted him good morning, "Ohayo,"

"Ohayo," He replied simply, attempting to hide his discomfort of the fact that he probably hugged her all night.

He stood, bearing his naked chest and stomach in all its glory. Sakura inhaled sharply and the butterflies in her stomach seemed to flutter even more, her blush never having faded from when he previously held her.

Her green eyes unintentionally followed his form as he left the room and went into the bathroom. The click of the door closing snapped her out of her dazed state.

Get a hold of yourself, Sakura told herself, You have a date with Kaname-san today.

The reminder of Kaname brought a smile to Sakura's lips, and she excitedly left the room for hers. She pulled aside the curtains in her room, allowing the midday sun to illuminate her room in all its orange color. Judging by how high the sun was in the sky, she came to the conclusion that it was well past noon, but not yet 1.

Her hands slid her - well, technically Sasuke's - closet door open and pulled out the dress she planned to wear for her date. She laid them on the bed and grabbed a towel, heading for the bathroom to shower.

Her bare feet skittered across the wooden floor as she rushed to take a shower. Plans to stop by Ino's to both update and have her makeup and hair done by the blonde came to mind, and Sakura couldn't help but think of how great she'd look for the date. She continued to plan out the rest of her preparations for the date as she reached the bathroom. The sound of the shower running didn't register in Sakura's mind before she grabbed the doorknob and stepped in.

Sakura was enveloped in humidity and steam, both of which confused her.

She looked around in confusion, Why does it feel like someone taking a show-

Her green eyes widened and her face turned red when she saw Sasuke's naked backside. The dark hair that usually stuck up in the back now hung down, drenched with water. Water from the shower head streamed down his muscular and smooth back, over his (surprisingly) round bum, and down his legs.

He seemed not to notice her presence, continuing to shower. He ran a hand through his soaked hair, while the other dragged a soapy washcloth over his skin. She thanked the heavens that he hadn't noticed her, and quietly backed out of the bathroom.

Thank God it wasn't his front, She thought with a blush as she slowly closed the door behind her.

The door clicked shut, and Sasuke looked over his shoulder before turning back around with his signature smirk plastered on his face. He knew she had seen him, but could care less. She was the one who stepped in without realizing that the shower was on, and he made sure not to look at her to spare her the embarrassment. He turned the shower off, grabbed his towel and left the bathroom for Sakura to use.

Sakura was splashing cold water on her face in the kitchen, hoping to relieve the redness fanning her cheeks. She checked the mirror in her room and pouted when she found that the water hadn't made a difference. The sound of the bathroom door closing alerted Sakura that Sasuke had finally gotten out of the shower. She hurriedly made her way to the bathroom and finished showering in record time.

The towel hanging in the bathroom was almost forgotten in all of Sakura's eagerness, but she turned back around to grab it and wrap it around herself before going out into her room to get dressed. She wore a loose dress that was playful with a tinge of sexy. It was an open necked white dress that hung low on her shoulders and met at the valley of her breasts in the shape of an extremely obtuse V, but from her waist down wrapped tight around her body. She paired it with black and gold laced heels, and a thin gold necklace that draped over and down past her breasts.

Finally ready to head to Ino's, Sakura grabbed her black clutch off herbed and left her room. As she walked down the hallway she hoped that Sasuke wouldn't see her and question where she was going, but her hopes were foiled when she passed by the kitchen and Sasuke stood there pouring himself a cup of tea.

He looked up from his cup, observing the way she was dressed. When his eyes slowly raked over her form before meeting her eyes once again, her heart rate sped up and she hoped she wasn't blushing. She spoke before he could open his mouth to ask her anything.

"I-I'm going to Ino's house," Sakura explained as she opened the front door, not feeling the need nor the importance of telling him that she was going on a date.

It's not like he'd care anyways, Sakura thought.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes slightly but nodded.

A quiet "Bye," was all he heard before the sound of the door slamming followed.

Since when did she dress like that to go to Ino's? Sasuke wondered with slight suspicion as soon as the door closed.

As soon as she left the house, Sakura exhaled in relief, glad she didn't have to lie to him. His observant eyes would have caught her in her lie, and she would die at how awkward it would be to tell him she was going on a date.

She fixed her dress, pulling it up a few inches higher. If Sasuke had seen how high up on her legs the dress really was, he certainly would have been suspicious of her. Once satisfied with her look she began to strut off to Ino's house for her makeup and hairdo, not noticing the worried stare that a certain blonde was giving her from the rooftop of a near-by house.

"Shit," Naruto cursed under his breath as he looked her up and down.

Although his heart was already given to Hinata, he couldn't deny that she looked good. Like, really good, and she didn't even have make-up on yet. Her hair had yet to be done too.

This is bad, really bad. Naruto thought to himself.

Naruto followed Sakura, making sure his shadow was hidden among the rooftops and that his steps were as light as a feather. They reached Ino's house within a few minutes, and Naruto could hear Ino's squeal even from outside.

"Oh my god Sakura!" Ino squealed, "You're finally going on a date! And he asked you out in a really cute way!"

"I know!" Sakura squealed in return.

"I knew he had a thing for you!" Ino boasted.

"Yeah, yeah."

"Okay, we need to get you all fixed up," Ino declared with excitement, "You need to look hot. Like, even hotter than you already look in that dress. Good choice by the way. Not too sexy, but not too plain either."

"Right!" Sakura smiled. She knew she made a good choice.

"Alright, let's get started. It's 2:30 so I have like three hours to get you all glammed up." Ino announced with glee as she sat Sakura down in front of the big makeup mirror in her bathroom.

Two hours passed, and Sakura sat in front of Ino's makeup mirror smiling like an idiot. She loved what Ino did with her hair and makeup.

Her pink hair was curled and pulled into a loose, bouncy ponytail. Her eyes were illuminated with a light eyeshadow and dark eyeliner, with a tinge of silver eyeliner on the insides of her eyes.

She loved how soft and bouncy her pink locks looked, and how the contrasting black and silver eyeliner brought out the green in her eyes. How the nude color of her lips paired with her black eyeliner somewhat matched the color of her heels.

"Arigatou, Ino," Sakura thanked her best friend.

"No problem, hot stuff!" Ino winked playfully at Sakura's reflection in the mirror.

Sakura stood up and walked out of the room with Ino following close behind her. Ino opened the door for Sakura to leave, and lightly tapped Sakura on the butt as she walked out.

"Go get 'em tiger," Ino joked.

Sakura's stomach growled, and she brought a glowing green hand to her stomach to calm the rumbling.

"While you're staring at his face, don't forget to eat, okay?" Ino advised Sakura.

Green orbs widened in panic, "Oh no! I forgot to cook at home!"

"And?" Ino asked.

"And, Sasuke probably hasn't eaten yet!" Sakura exclaimed, "I need to go back and cook something real quick. Bye!"

Ino grabbed Sakura's arm, "Sakura, Sasuke is a grown man. You know full well that he can cook, and is damn good at it too. Don't worry about him. Worry about your date."

"But-" Sakura protested.

"Sakura," Ino warned.

Sakura sighed in defeat, "Fine,"

"Now, have fun on your date!" Ino called as Sakura walked to the hospital.

Naruto awoke at the sound of Ino's front door closing. His eyes slowly came back into focus, and he saw Sakura. He smiled at how pretty she looked all dolled up, but that smile quickly turned into a grimace as he heard men whistling at her as she walked. His hand curled into a fist and bile rose in his throat when he noticed a drunken man approaching her. He poised himself, ready to launch himself at the man, but stopped when Sakura punched the man, sending him a good fifty feet away from her. This action startled the other men that had previously whistled at her, and their faces visibly paled.

That's my girl, Naruto smiled proudly at his teammate that was nothing less than a sister to him.

He followed her to the hospital, where a man with silver hair greeted her with a rose.

Naruto's eyes narrowed at Kaname's obvious ogling at Sakura. He continued to silently watch and follow the two until they reached their restaurant, before he turned around and sprinted across the rooftops to Sasuke's house.


He was two hours into reading his book on Sakura when a knock was heard at the door. Sasuke walked into the living room and opened the front door, revealing an oddly jittery Naruto.

"H-hey, Teme," Naruto stuttered between chewing his nails.

Sasuke moved aside to let him in, and Naruto helped himself to a cup of tea.

"What do you need this time?" Sasuke practically sighed.

"N-nothing, just wanted to see how Sakura was," Naruto began, looking around the room in mock interest, "Where is she, anyways?"

"She's fine. She left to go to Ino's." Sasuke answered.

"So that's what she said?" Naruto asked absentmindedly.

"Aa. Why?" Sasuke narrowed his eyes at the blonde sitting in front of him.

"N-nothing, nothing," the blonde claimed, bringing the teacup down from his mouth to wave it off.

Sasuke remained silent, wanting to see where exactly Naruto planned to go with his visit and the conversation. The silence didn't last long, however, because Sasuke's stomach rumbled loudly.

Naruto giggled, "Ne, teme, are you hungry?"

Sasuke huffed, crossing his arms over his chest, "No."

Sakura hadn't cooked, and he didn't exactly feel like cooking. But it was already nearly 6, and he was hungry. To prove it, his stomach growled a second time, seemingly louder than the first.

Naruto's eyes widened in realization, That's perfect!

"Ne, teme, since you're hungry, let's go out and eat, yeah?" Naruto suggested.

"Y-" Sasuke began.

"I know you're hungry, don't deny it." Naruto insisted.

"You didn't let me finish," Sasuke replied, "You're paying."

Panic filled Naruto's eyes, "B-But teme!"

Sasuke ignored him, making his way to the front door and holding it open for Naruto to follow. Naruto's bottom lip stuck out in a pout.

After a few seconds of no remorse from Sasuke, Naruto's head lowered and he sighed in defeat before following his best friend, "Fine."

It'll pay off in the end, anyways, Naruto thought, It'll be worth it.

The two allowed themselves to be immersed into the cold night air, the briskness of it all bringing goosebumps to their skin.

Naruto's eyes quickly darted around as they walked, scanning the signs of restaurants.

Sasuke silently turned and walked into a restaurant. Naruto hurriedly followed him inside, only to grab Sasuke by the back of his shirt and drag him out of the restaurant and back onto the street.

"What are you doi-" Sasuke began as he was shoved out of the restaurant.

"Not that one," Naruto explained, "I... I heard that place had crappy food that gave people food poisoning."

Sasuke narrowed his eyes at his best friend in suspicion. First, Naruto randomly comes to his house looking for Sakura. Second, suggesting to go out and eat. Now, he just shoved him out of a restaurant they had both been to before.

His behavior is... abnormal... even more so than usual. Sasuke observed.

Naruto 's whole body was beginning to sweat in panic. He had no idea where he was going. He couldn't remember the restaurant that Sakura was at, and it was crucial for what he had to do.

Five minutes passed of Naruto observing restaurants, his panic increasing by the minute. He spotted curly pink hair in the corner of his eye, finally finding Sakura.

Thank god, Naruto exhaled in relief, I've done my work for the night.

Naruto pointed to the restaurant across from Sakura, "I heard this place was good."

"About time." Sasuke murmured grumpily.

They sat down, their backs facing Sakura's. With a murmur of itadakimasu they quietly began to eat. Sasuke eating his onigiri, and Naruto eating ramen.

Hn. Sakura's is better. Sasuke thought as he forced himself to eat the onigiri.

I want Ichiraku, Naruto whined inwardly.

Having finished his bowl of ramen, Naruto sighed and patted his belly. He went into sage mode, using the natural energy with the atmosphere to be able to tell what Sakura was doing. Sakura and her date were standing, both holding hands.

Might as well do it now, Naruto decided after turning off sage mode.

"Oh! Isn't that Sakura?" Naruto feigned surprise, pointing at Sakura.

Sasuke looked over his shoulder and nearly choked on his onigiri.

She looked alluring, and Sasuke found his eyes swirling red, recording the way she looked with his sharingan. It was when he noticed that she was holding someone else's hand that Sasuke stopped to think. His eyes trailed along the hand linked with Sakura's, all the way up to the culprit's face.

Who is that? Sasuke's eyebrows furrowed.

He connected the dots, realizing why Sakura had dressed so nicely. An odd feeling welled up within Sasuke, and he couldn't understand why, but he felt angry.

He chuckled sardonically. Sakura had spent the night with him, in his very own bed, and she was able to get up and go off on a date with another man. Just like that, under his very nose, his object of desire was snatched up from under him. The mother to his children was taken from him, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

Right then the anger within him evolved even more. He wanted to somehow throw his chidori through the man's chest.

Naruto could do it for me, Sasuke considered for a second before ruling it out. He wanted to injure the man himself.

But he wouldn't. As much as he hated the fact that Sakura was dating, that she wasn't dating him, he didn't want to ruin her chances of dating. He wouldn't stoop so low.

Naruto watched Sasuke with interest, finding it harder and harder to contain his widening smile as he watched Sasuke grow angrier and angrier at the sight of Sakura on a date.

He glanced over his shoulder at Sakura.

Sakura and her date sat conversing, when her date leaned over and planted a kiss on Sakura's cheek.

Naruto quickly redirected his attention to Sasuke, waiting for Sasuke to pounce up, grab Sakura and leave. But, to Naruto's surprise, he didn't do that. No, Sasuke was way angrier and more controlled than he expected.

Sasuke, finding that he'd watched long enough, abruptly stood from the table and began walking off.

"Sasuke!" Naruto called, hastily paying for their meal and following, "Wait!"

Jaw hurting from clenching his jaw in anger, Sasuke speed walked to the training grounds, ignoring Naruto's yells for him to stop. He needed to blow off some steam, and Naruto's presence was perfect for the occasion.

Upon arrival at the training grounds, Sasuke halted and practically ripped off his shirt. He turned to face Naruto.

"Come at me with all you've got," he ordered.

"Teme, why are you-" Naruto began.

"I said come at me with all you've got." Sasuke repeated with a snarl.

"But-" Naruto protested a second time, being interrupted by Sasuke's random disappearance and the sudden ripping of his back pocket.

Sasuke reappeared in front of Naruto, Naruto's green frog wallet dangling between his fingers.

"Come and get it," Sasuke challenged.

Naruto sighed in defeat before he unzipped his jacket and let it drop to the floor, leaving them both shirtless. "Fine, let's get it."


Hours later, with the moon already high up in the night sky, Naruto finally called it quits.

"Sasuke, that's enough." Naruto spoke in between pants, eyeing the deep and dripping red gash across his best friend's lower abdomen and other areas of his body.

"Done already?" Sasuke taunted, his own breathing no better than Naruto's.

"It's late, you out of all people should know that." Naruto answered, "And Sakura-chan's probably looking for you. She'll kill me if I do anymore damage to you."

"Hn." She's probably too busy being with her date. Sasuke remarked bitterly in his head.

As angry as he was, Sasuke couldn't help but understand.

I don't deserve her, he thought bitterly to himself.

Sakura deserved someone better than he, a man who practically beat his own best friend up regularly. A man who nearly destroyed his own home village. A man who nearly killed his own object of desire. Yeah. He wasn't exactly the person a woman like Sakura would go to looking for a healthy relationship.

The Uchiha winced in pain as both he and Naruto walked to his house.

He unlocked the door and walked in with Naruto. The blonde beside him opened his mouth to call Sakura but didn't. She was already sitting on the couch in front of them. Her green eyes glared, legs were crossed, along with her arms, and the two couldn't help but feel a tiny bit of fear.

"What did you two do now? It's already one in the morning." Sakura asked exasperatedly.

"We just trained, that's all." Naruto explained.

Sasuke remained silent, clenching his jaw.

Sakura sighed, looking over both of them for whoever had the most serious injuries.

"Naruto, Sasuke's injuries are worse so I'm healing him first." She informed, moving towards Sasuke.

Naruto began, "Fine with me-"

"-No." Sasuke interrupted harshly, "Heal him first."

Pink eyebrows furrowed together. Why was he talking to her like that? Why was he talking to her with such anger? Her previous anger intensified.

"Fine." Sakura replied just as harshly as Sasuke, moving towards Naruto instead.

She sat Naruto down on the couch, and began to heal his wounds with her glowing green hands. She lifted his right arm for better access to heal his rib-cage.

With her head close to his ear, she asked him, "What went up his ass and made him angry?"

Naruto chuckled and shook his head, "I've been trying to figure that out since the day we met him."

Sakura laughed, "So how are you- I mean, besides injured. Are you and Hinata good?"

Naruto's eyes gleamed with delight and his stomach filled with butterflies at the mention of his girlfriend's name, and Sakura nearly squealed. She knew that look. He was in it. He was in it deep. She briefly wondered what it was like. To be so deep in love, and to know that the person you love feels the exact same way.

"Yeah, we're good. Perfect, even." Naruto corrected himself, "Well, no. She's perfect. I'm just normal."

Sakura smiled at her babbling teammate, "And who hooked you two up again?"

Naruto's eyes softened at Sakura, and her heart warmed at the genuine gratitude she found in his blue eyes.

He smiled his signature smile, "Arigatou, Sakura-chan."

"Idiot," Sakura replied jokingly, "If you're really thankful, where's my gift?"

Naruto's smiled widened even more, "I'm working on it, don't worry."

Sakura ruffled Naruto's blonde hair, "Alright, you're done. You're free to go to Hinata's now."

"How did you know?" the Uzumaki asked with surprise.

"I didn't." Sakura giggled, "I just guessed."

Naruto's jaw dropped. "Don't tell anyone else pleaseeee Sakura-chan!"

Sakura clicked and waved her index finger from side to side, "Busted."

The soon-to-be-Hokage went down on his knees and pouted, "Please, Sakura-channnn!"

The kunoichi laughed, "You're so gullible. I'm not telling anyone anything. But you better wife her up sometime."

"I know, but I'm waiting at least a year before marrying her," Naruto nodded to himself, "Don't want to rush into it."

"You've been taught well," Sakura patted the blonde on his shoulder, "Maybe you could give Sasuke lessons."

The two laughed a final time before Naruto left, leaving Sakura with a glaring Sasuke.

"We were just joking, Sasuke." Sakura explained as she moved toward him.

No reply was spoken. All she heard was the sound of feet shuffling across the floor as he evaded her glowing hands.

"Sasuke," Sakura warned, "Stop moving and let me heal you."

There was no sign that her warning was heeded as he silently continued to evade her. Sakura's anger came back with a vengeance at his immature behavior. She had no clue why he was so angry, and why at her, of all people.

That's it, I've had enough.

Sakura released a fraction of the chakra from her seal, and her speed increased significantly. Being caught off guard by Sakura's sudden use of her seal, Sasuke found himself being sweep kicked to the ground and dragged by his ear to the couch. She stood him up and pushed him onto the couch and began healing.

"I don't know why you're so damn angry at me. I didn't do anything bad to you. And all I'm trying to do is heal you, you inconsiderate ass." She ranted, "If anything, I have a better reason for being angry than you do."

Sasuke observed the kunoichi in front of him, distracting himself from the feeling of her hands on his body. She still wore her dress, and her makeup was oddly smeared. It almost looked like she'd been crying. The seething anger he felt was instantly replaced with concern.

"Sakura," he spoke, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she replied quickly, her glowing hands still roaming his torso.

"Sakura," Sasuke growled, "You just said you have a better reason for being angry than me. What is it?"

Sakura, done healing him, sighed and moved to sit beside him.

"After I went to Ino's, I..." Sakura hesitated, "..Went on a date with a guy that transferred to our hospital recently. It turns out that he already has a girlfriend, because she came looking for him at the restaurant we were eating at. So I left right after his girlfriend came along."

Sasuke couldn't decipher how he felt. He felt happy, in a sense, because Sakura was no longer in danger of becoming someone else's. Yet, he hated the fact that the man she went on a date with already had a girlfriend. And, all at the same time, he felt bad that he'd been so angry at her.

To his surprise, Sakura began to laugh. It was unsettling, to say the least. He'd have expected her to be crying and emotional after having such a thing happen to her. But here she was, laughing, of all things.

"I'm so stupid. I should have seen it coming," She spoke so softly that Sasuke felt like he was listening to a child – so small, so vulnerable and fragile, "It's not like I'm worthy of being in a relationship or loved in the first place."

She was about to continue when she felt warmth against her back, neck and shoulders.

He didn't know what overcame him, but he felt the need to comfort her - and felt the need to stop her talking. And, he read in his book that, in times of distress or sadness, Sakura responded well to hugs. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, hugging her with his arms resting above the swell of her breasts, effectively shutting her up.

Sakura tensed in his arms, turning back to look at him, "Sasuke?"

"That guy's an ass - there's nothing wrong with you, Sakura." Sasuke spoke bluntly.

Ever since they were genin, he knew she was insecure about her appearances and about herself. He honestly had no idea why. He couldn't find a single thing wrong with her, not that he'd ever admit that out loud.

"And you are worthy," Sasuke replied quietly.

Sakura was confused, "I'm what? I didn't hear the second part,"

"You are worthy of love," he repeated a bit louder, feeling heat spread to his cheeks. That unfamiliar feeling in his stomach returned as well, this time, with vengeance. Sakura relaxed in his arms at his compliment, leaning her back against him even more. He was glad she couldn't look back enough to see his face. The blush staining his cheeks was not something he wanted to be seen.

Sakura was at a loss for words, and was only able to whisper a quiet, "Thank you."

Her heart sped up, and the fluttering in her stomach seemed to increase. She had never known that Sasuke could be emotionally supportive in the slightest.

Because that's all this was, right? Sasuke was just being a supportive friend, nothing more. She didn't expect anything more. She couldn't expect anything more. The last time she did, she was left on a bench with a broken heart.

Just when Sasuke was beginning to be comfortable hugging her, Sakura shifted uncomfortably, and Sasuke took it as a hint to release her. His arms loosened and dropped to his sides.

She turned to face him, curiosity in her emerald orbs, "So what were you mad about?"

Sasuke paused to think. He couldn't tell her that he was mad at her for going on a date.

As much as he despised the thought of it, he lied, "I was hungry,"

Sakura gasped, remembering how she forgot to cook for him.

"Oh my gosh I'm so sorry, Sasuke. I was in a hurry to leave to get my makeup and hair done," Sakura apologized, "Are you still hungry? You know what? I'll cook you something right now."

Sasuke nearly laughed at how gullible Sakura was. But then again, he was a good liar, when it came down to it.

She got up from the couch and fled to the kitchen, grabbing an egg and a tomato from the fridge.

He was about to protest, feeling uncomfortable with the thought of eating past midnight, when his stomach growled. Dark eyebrows quirked up in surprise. He didn't even realize that he was still hungry.

In a matter of mere minutes Sakura had finished cooking. Eggs were the least time consuming to cook and tasted great with tomatoes, both to her benefit. Sasuke quickly scarfed down the omelette and washed his plate. He thanked her afterwards, bidding her goodnight before he headed to his room.

Sakura panicked slightly, dreading the idea of spending the night alone. Not that she was afraid of sleeping alone, but rather the dreams that attacked her in her unconscious state whenever she did. The kunoichi had found, regardless of who it was, that the company of another somehow helped keep the nightmares away.

But she gulped down the request that lingered on her tongue, her emerald eyes trailing after Sasuke's retreating back as she walked over to her room. She had just turned away to enter her room when the sound of Sasuke's voice behind her reached her ears.

"Sakura."

The kunoichi jumped in fright with a yelp and turned around to face the source of the voice, her left hand clutching her chest, "God, Sasuke, you scared me."

The Uchiha didn't seem to care, looking rather amused with himself instead. He took hold of her wrist, and began pulling her towards his room.

Sakura's eyes widened when she realized the direction they were heading, "Um Sasuke, what are you-"

"-Sleep in here tonight," he interrupted, still leading her into his room without even so much as a glance back.

She was just about to ask him why he wanted her to sleep in his room when he answered before she had the chance to ask, "To keep the nightmares away."

Pale cheeks began to redden as she felt blood beginning to rush into them, and her face felt hotter. She was glad he hadn't turned around to look at her, knowing she probably looked as red as a tomato. Little did she know, the man in front of her was in the same predicament.

Once finally in the room, Sasuke released her wrist and tried his best to wipe his facial expression clear of any emotion. In the meanwhile, Sakura willed the heat in her cheeks to go away, and fiddled with her thumbs in effort to avoid the Uchiha's eyes.

When he turned to look at her, he realized the awkwardness of his sudden request (which he then realized wasn't a request, more of a command). She kept shifting in place, did her best to avoid looking at him, and played with her thumbs.

So to make the situation less awkward, Sasuke decided he'd leave to let her get settled in bed without him there. Maybe that'd ease the odd tension they felt.

"I'm going to shower first," Sasuke announced, "So feel free to just sleep."

Sakura nodded and inwardly thanked the heavens. Sasuke noticed the way she stopped fiddling with her thumbs and actually able to look him in the eye, taking it to mean that his decision to shower relieved some of the tension they both felt.

The moment Sasuke left for the shower, Sakura laid herself in bed and wrapped herself in his blankets. She inhaled, Sasuke's intoxicating scent filling her nose. Before long, drowsiness washed over her and she found herself easily falling asleep.

Minutes later, Sasuke emerged from the bathroom, steam pooling around his feet. The corner of his mouth turned up in a smirk as the sight of an already sleeping Sakura came to view. He laid down beside her, at a closer distance this time. He found that it was getting easier for him to be physically closer to Sakura, and it felt more natural to be around her.

A few strands of hair covered her face as she slept, which Sasuke moved to view the delicate features of her face.

Right then Sasuke realized that he could have lost Sakura to someone else, and a sudden desperation awoke within him. He couldn't afford to lose her.

I won't slack off like I've been, Sasuke swore to himself as he closed his eyes to sleep, I'm going to make sure that I'm the only man she thinks about. I'll make myself worthy of her.

Meanwhile, Sakura drifted somewhere between sleep and consciousness, unable to tell if the feeling of arms wrapping around her waist and the brush of soft lips against her forehead were a dream or reality.