Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Something or Other ❯ First and Only ( Chapter 1 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]

Summary: `There is nothing more dangerous than a woman who doesn't know what she wants, but is willing to do anything to get it.' -Jiraiya, Author of the acclaimed Icha Icha Paradise.

Preface: Look, this one's a companion piece to It's a Thankless Job, so it's in the same bitter vein as that. It's a piece almost completely about sexual relationships, sexuality, and infidelity. Thus, it's an R-rated piece with a lot of sexual themes (to say the very least).

Something or Other

By Geno Calamari

It's raining today and Haruno Sakura is wandering the streets. She has no idea where she's going, can't really remember when she started, and does not understand why. She doesn't want to understand.

Her footsteps are purposeful, though, so she cannot truly be called wandering but her conscious mind is not directing her feet, so it fits.

Today is most definitely a Bad Day for Sakura, and not for the reasons you'd imagine. Today, a Tuesday of no particular importance or meaning, was the first time she ever slept with Uchiha Sasuke. That in and of itself should have made today a wonderful, blissful, and let's not forget orgiastic experience of ninja naughtiness. How many women in Konoha could claim that they had bagged the one-and-only Uchiha Sasuke, who was commonly accepted to be the `Most Handsome Bachelor' in the village? Nobody, as far as she knew, except her.

She stops, the rain has long since soaked through her clothes, but it was the tears that caused the mascara to run. It takes her a moment to realize where she is.

Even still, it had been a poor experience and she just didn't understand what was happening until it was too late and he was yelling. Sasuke is touchy these days, and she doesn't have any idea what set him off this time.

That's a complete lie, but self-deception is something Sakura is good at. She knows exactly why and how and when she got here, but she just won't admit it. She was never any good at taking responsibility for her actions. She's even worse at accepting the consequences.

When Sasuke had started dating her, she promised herself that she'd never be back here again.

The apartment complex in front of her is rather dilapidated and is positioned in a more run-down neighborhood of Konoha, a far cry from the clean streets and big houses she's used to.


Sasuke lay spooned behind her, an arm thrown carelessly over her waist. They were silent, and the spattering of rain against the roof was very soothing after their tryst.

"Sasuke?" she broke the silence first, "Wasn't that wonderful?"

He didn't reply, but Sakura wasn't really concerned. The dark-haired man did not often respond to her questions and she fancied that she knew what he was thinking well enough to pick up his end of the conversation in her mind. Right now, he was thinking something along the lines of `Wow, that was incredible Sakura…' Her satisfied smile slipped a little bit when her mind drifted away from her Uchiha lover and to…

"Sakura." Sasuke spoke, using her name to draw the pink-haired woman's attention, "Who?"

Her mind snapped back with a vengeance, "What do you mean, Sasuke?" she demurred.

"Sakura, who was it?" She should have known better than to think playing dumb would work better on him.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said firmly, trying to maintain her feigned confusion.

He pulled his arm from her grasp and rolled off the bed. She turned to face him, but he didn't look at her. It struck her then that he was really, really angry now. The muscles in his shoulders tightened as he pulled on his boxers. She sat up, not bothering to cover herself with the blanket.

"Sasuke-kun?" she used the honorific from their childhood and that special tone of voice only she could muster, because sometimes it was enough to defuse him before he exploded.

This time it wasn't, "Who was he, Sakura?" His voice was as cold as his expression now.

Her mouth was hanging open and her hands had drawn up the sheets to preserve her modesty, or perhaps put something between herself and the quietly raging Uchiha progeny.

"Tell me," he continued, his eyes narrowed to slits, "Who were you with before me?"


And, like a fool, she tells him the truth. Not all of it, but the basic truth, enough to answer his question.

She's crying again. Only just for a second before she fiercely wipes the tears from her eyes and steps up to the door of the building. She pulls it open resolutely and storms into the crummy foyer, passing apartment after apartment until she reaches the stairs and begins her assent.

The pink-haired woman didn't understand a lot of things, despite the fact she had graduated with the highest grades in her class. And she didn't understand what had made Sasuke so angry about the name of a man she had only been interested in physically, years ago, that meant absolutely nothing.

Damn it. That's a lie again. She just can't get around that one. It wasn't years ago, it was only ten months, which was eight months after she started dating Sasuke for those who are counting.

A heavy sigh works its way out of her lips. She's twenty-three now and that's three years too old to lie to herself.


"Naruto," she whispered, visibly shaking as Sasuke stiffened. For a man who has just found out his future spouse slept with his greatest rival, the Uchiha doesn't seem too surprised. A thundercloud of repressed emotions passed over his face and for just a second, he seemed to be containing the storm. It does not last.

"Get out," he growls, his eyes shining black, white teeth glinting dangerously sharp. In that moment, she understood exactly what it was about him that others found frightening, because he was scaring her right now. But she knew better than to argue with him when he was in this sort of mood.

She went, stopping only to gather her clothes and the fragile scraps of her dignity.


Her wandering stops outside of a familiar door on the third floor of this particular dingy complex. How many times had she been here, at this very door, and not been able to understand why she was here? Didn't she think, every single one of those times, that maybe this time she'd figure it out?

She knocks. There is a rustling noise, the sound of a few objects being knocked over and Sakura cannot help but laugh at her friend's clumsiness. For one of the greatest shinobi in Konoha, Uzumaki Naruto was a klutz.

The door opens and she gets a good look at her friend. He's tall, far taller than she, and rugged in that way that makes him look handsome instead of mangled. Those electric blue eyes shine out of a regal face that radiates confidence and skill. His jaw is powerful and square, but it smiles as soon as he sets eyes on her. It's his typical reaction to her. He does not appeared to have shaved in a few days and he's whiskered in more than one way now. He is not wearing a shirt and she notices that immediately.

"Sakura-chan?" he asks, just like he always does, "What're you doing here?" Not `hello,' or any other greeting, because it's unnecessary with Naruto. The minor pleasantries of conversation and politeness have never sat well with him. When he's saying hello, he smiles at you and you just know. Maybe that has something to do with it…

"Hey Naruto," she returns, too used to his lack of greetings to notice. She pushes past him, much like she always has. This is the first time in months that she's been to his apartment… since that day. Everything is meticulously clean, a habit that had carried over from the days when she would show up at any hour of the day or night without warning. The man was neurotic about it being clean enough in here for her, and that was probably because he thought she was some sort of angel or deity incarnate or something. She doesn't really know.

She crashes on his couch without waiting for him to offer her a seat. He looks at her askance, because he knows the only reason she ever comes to his apartment is because she wants something. One thing. The pink-haired woman can tell from the way he's standing, with his arms crossed loosely over his bare chest and leaning slightly against the doorframe, that he's half-anticipating it, half-confused by it.

"Naruto," she says, fixing him with her jade eyes, "I don't think Sasuke and I are going to work out…"

The reaction is instant. His face screws up in confusion and that handsome, scruffy jaw falls open just a bit as he considers his next words, "W-Wha… Why?" Obviously, not too carefully.

"He found out." She says no more. It takes him a moment to figure out what she means, so that she can countdown to realization.

"Oh," he mumbles, not at all what she expected of him, "about us," he utters the word with a heavy, unmistakable meaning. All the confusion was out of his posture now, "What'd he do?"

"He threw me out, told me to never come back," she admits, and just saying the words stings.

"Ah." It strikes her as odd that he isn't surprised. Like he was expecting it or something. "Well, you look awful, Sakura-chan," she throws the television remote at him, but he caught it calmly, "let's have some ramen, eh? That always makes me feel better."

He is smiling gently and Sakura doesn't quite understand why until she figures out her vision is clouded by unshed tears. She nods and he pulls her along the thin hallway into his kitchen. It is small, but comfortable. There is a table in the corner, two chairs sitting half-pushed in. It is exactly as she remembers. He fills a tea kettle and sets it to boil.

She takes a seat and he flanks the table opposite her. In her mind, it is a good thing that he has stopped standing over her, because when he's this close she doesn't feel like he's judging her as much. It has been a long time since they last sat like this, alone, but close. His eyes wander down from her face, she notices, but then he reigns in the impulse to eye her more thoroughly. As he shifts uncomfortably, his elbow brushes against the wall. This room seems almost too small for him, cause he's a man that seems larger than life, uncontrollable, wild, untamed…

Now that has to have something to do with it.

Naruto isn't quite comfortable with her being here. Because they have been at this junction before and she never quite leaves without spending some time on her back first. He may have been many things, but Uzumaki gets the point eventually. He knows that she only comes for sex, but he enjoys it anyway, and as this is the only way he can have her, he just shuts up and accepts it. But she generally talks more than this.

He frowns. Okay, that's not right, occasionally she jumps him as soon as he opens the door, but that's neither here nor there.

Sakura looks at him, allowing her eyes to run across his broad shoulders and powerful chest, down his muscular abdomen until her vision is obscured by his sweatpants. Her eyes dart back up to his and a pink tongue makes its way across her beautiful, kissable lips. He shifts again, now fully uncomfortable. He hates it when she looks at him like a piece of meat. It happens far too often for his liking.

How had this begun? When did this game of cat and mouse start?

She remembers exactly. She knew he did as well.


A flash of pink hair encroached upon his vision. He was sweaty, a little feverish, and sort of woozy. That last one was the fault of the stuff Sakura had given him a little while ago.

Goddamn, he hated being useless while the rest of the team was out risking their lives! He growled softly and his team's medic leaned over to examine him. Her brow furrowed as she examined the extent of his injuries and wondered why he wasn't healing as quickly as he usually did. Sakura had set his broken leg, but he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. As soon as she had determined the nature of the poison that was making him delirious, she had administered a counter-agent, but it didn't seem to be having the opposite effect.

Sighing, she stood up and walked to the door. She needed more ice to keep the mixture she was feeding him cold. If it got warm, it'd be worse than the poison he'd inhaled.

"Wh're ya goin'?" he slurred, still the team-leader in this state.

Sakura smiled, "I'm going to find some ice. You get some rest."

"Be c'reful," he managed to say without butchering it too badly, "That's an order." She nodded as she closed the door behind her.

The team had gone to ground in a large hotel after the fight that had incapacitated the captain. Hyuuga Neji was out pursuing the mission objective with Inuzuka Kiba while the team medic, Haruno Sakura, remained behind to tend to the wounded Captain.

She took the elevator down to the lobby. It pinged quietly as she waited. The elevator stopped and the doors pulled open.

The pink-haired ANBU had taken four steps into the lobby before she recognized the tense atmosphere. Her sharp green eyes swept across the front desk, where a man and a woman of non-descript disposition stood interrogating the clerk. It took almost no effort for her to see through the basic Henge they both used. She bit her lip to stifle a gasp. The targets had doubled back somehow, effectively losing Neji and Kiba somehow, and were now asking at the desk for whereabouts of a blonde man who looked like he had been in a brawl.

The clerk was mumbling something about how he couldn't divulge information about the guests when the man lost his patience and used some sort of genjutsu on him.

Sakura didn't wait to find out what they got out of him. As calmly as her shaking hands would allow, she opened the door to the stairwell and began climbing as only a ninja could. It is no more than four seconds before she reached the floor she was looking for. With a sense of well-founded urgency, she opened the door to the room without announcing herself. Naruto was already aware that it was her at the door anyway.

"S'kura-chan?" he slurred into the semi-darkness of the room, sounding half-asleep, "Wh'r's the ice?"

"Get up," the medic-nin commanded, "We have to go." She crossed the room and grabbed a handful of equipment that she'd need. He sat up slowly, looking at her with half-lidded eyes.

"Whas wrong?" he finally got up the strength to ask.

"The targets are here," it didn't sink in right away, so she elaborated even as her arms hauled him upright, "I think they figured out where we are."

"Oh," he said, not completely supporting his own weight. She reeled as he slumped in her arms, his head lolling to the side. He was heavy. But she didn't have time for this. They needed to escape and now. But if he couldn't walk… then there was no way she could outrun them. She'd need to find someplace to hide in the building where they wouldn't find them.

She kicked open the door and maneuvered Naruto out into the hallway. His feet dragged on the carpet loudly and she realized that she was going to have to make this quick.

Choosing her only course of action, the pink-haired woman paused before the door of another room. Working quickly with her left hand, she unlocked the door with a rough lock-unseal. It got the job done. As carefully as she could, she lowered his body to the mattress. He groaned in complaint as she shifted her weight against his splinted leg accidentally.

"Sorry," she apologized, her hands rifling through the supplies pouch until they closed around the scroll she had been looking for. Drawing it out, Sakura quickly unrolled the genjutsu scroll around both their bodies. Investing the small amount of chakra required for the jutsu, the delicate kanji danced around them in the air for a moment.

"What whas that?" his head drifted to the right, despite his best efforts to hold it straight.

"As long as we don't leave the radius of this jutsu, no one can detect our chakra. So we'll just look like normal people instead of ninja." It was a technique she had developed herself, and she was very proud of it.

"How big's the r'd-us?" Naruto asked. Sakura took the opportunity to snap a disguise capsule over his head and watch hair turn from golden yellow to deep crimson. A full beard coalesced on his face as his eyes changed to viridian.

"Uh… forty inches." She tore off her ANBU vest, tossing it into the corner of the room that could not be seen from the door. Her black ninja jumpsuit followed.

"S'kura-chan?" he asked, and his voice sounded oddly high, "What're you doin'?" She hadn't noticed that removing her clothing had put her almost directly into his lap.

The targets answered for her: "He's not in here!" the woman shouted, incensed, "That fucker downstairs must have lied!"

"Impossible," the man replied smoothly, "No one can resist my technique. More likely, they are still here somewhere." There was a pause and the complete silence told the experienced ANBU that their targets were moving silently, "The bed is still warm. The ice in this glass has not melted completely."

Sakura cursed under her breath. She hadn't had time to cover the tracks that well. Her disguise probably wouldn't hold up under intense scrutiny, so she needed to figure out a way to avoid that scrutiny…

"Check the surrounding rooms," the man commanded. "If they are moving, it cannot be more than two of them. Thus, they could not have gone far, as the team-leader was injured. They know this, so logic states that they would attempt to hide as close as possible to their safe-room. All of their supplies are still here, so they rushed off in a hurry."

Taking a deep breath, the pink-haired ANBU slid down Naruto's legs, whispering as she did so, "Naruto, don't freak out, okay?" The disguised captain nodded drunkenly. She grasped the waistline of his pants and dragged them down, taking as much care as she could afford to not agitate his leg. He was naked before her and she forced her face not to blush.

I'm an ANBU, she told herself, and sometimes I do things I don't want to, but I do them anyway, because I'm an ANBU and I'm elite.

Her captain had always been attracted to her, and the pink-haired woman decided to fully take advantage of this fact. And the less they looked like ninja when they were inevitably found, the better. It was all she could think of. Sakura unclasped her strapless sports bra, throwing it aside even as his hands pulled her panties off. At least he understood exactly what she was doing, even if he didn't understand why, and he was a little too delirious and a little too inebriated to think better of it.

She was in his lap again, straddling him and kissing him with a passion that neither of them felt. It took him a long second to really get into it. His hands trailed down body, pausing at the small of her back and she shuddered despite herself. His mouth left hers, trailing down the side of neck to her collarbone, using just the right amount of pressure. A fist in his hair, she found her body encouraging him. The places left behind tingled as they cooled from the heat of his mouth. She was getting aroused and realized that it was unavoidable with someone touching her like this.

Fingers caressed between her legs and Sakura couldn't hold in the gasp as he hit something important by accident. Her small hand wrapped around it and he growled into the hollow of her throat, long and low in a way that made her shiver deliciously. A thrill ran up her spine. This was going farther than the medic-nin had anticipated and she didn't quite want to stop.

The door burst open and she was saved from making the decision. She felt Naruto tighten reflexively in her arms but he did nothing. They both stared at the woman in the dark cloak framed by the door. She stared right back, almost as though she didn't quite believe her eyes. Sakura forced herself to stay still, like she was a deer in the headlights.

"Well?" the cool voice of the man intruded expectantly.

"Nah, it's just a couple of kids getting lucky," she sneered. Though she did close the door behind her.

"Let's check the roof and see if we can pick up a trail. I refuse to believe they have eluded us."

Sakura waited until she was sure they were gone before she relaxed, slumping against Naruto with a heavy sigh. It was amazing how forced passion can cover that horrible nervous feeling, the one that's like sky diving without a parachute.

"So," the ex-blonde said, coughing to draw her attention, "Finish up?" he asked hopefully.

Her face burned as she released… it, ignoring the slightly disappointed grunt he gave. It was better this way, she told herself, even though she was really stoked right now… and Naruto seemed to know just exactly what to do with his hands…

She shook her head, forcing those ecchi thoughts from her mind. This was not the time to get involved with your superior officer. Especially not a guy she had known since she was a little girl, the same guy she used to hit upside the head whenever he made some sort of obvious pass at her.

As she pulled back, he masked his longing by smiling wistfully, "S'okay," he chuckled, "I'm not all here," his finger circled his head, "so we prob'bly shouldn't." It was a major relief to know that he was at least cognizant enough to tell the difference between right and wrong.

But it was a shock when he pulled her body back to him. The heat of his flesh seared her in a most appetizing way as his lips crushed hers in a bruising kiss. The sheer, desperate passion in it left nothing to the imagination. Her eyelids fluttered shut and she melted against him.

He broke away first, grinning in a way that made her middle twist, "But S'kura-chan, if I weren't like this… I sure wouldn't let ya get away so e'sily."

It was half-a-promise, half-a-hope, and it made her whole body tingle regardless. The medic-nin simply believed him, because she knew Naruto well enough to understand that if he was given the go-ahead, he'd spread her out over the bed and screw her until her eyes changed color. She was surprised how much effort it took to drag herself away from him, breaking the concealment circle. It didn't matter to her anymore; she needed distance now, before she did something completely stupid.

Stumbling to the bathroom, she splashed cool water on her face, trying to wash away her blush like one might clean off makeup. It refused to come off, much like a stubborn oil-based concealer.

The pink-haired woman came out just in time to watch Naruto utter her name as he finished himself.

That blush didn't leave for the rest of the mission.


The kettle whistles. He jumps up, thankful for a distraction. This shouldn't be happening, he thinks, and he's right. She shouldn't be here, sitting in his kitchen and sizing him up like a cheetah examines a gazelle. She probably knows it too, somewhere in there, but she's unwilling to tell herself that.

He pours the hot water into their respective cups of instant ramen, hers first. They sit in silence, like they have been thus far, and get lost in their memories.

She remembers the first time she went all the way with him. It had been two days after that mission, and they had returned to Konoha yesterday. She had been thinking about him all day and the roseate-haired woman had somehow convinced herself it was concern over his broken leg. So she went to see him, in this very same crummy little apartment. He had opened the door wearing his bed sheets and that was probably what had set the mood for the entire afternoon.

They had talked in terse, innuendo-laced sentences before Naruto had finally gotten fed up with all the dancing in circles and started kissing her. When she kissed back, he pulled her into his lap and unfastened the buttons holding her dress to her body. It had gone downhill from there.

They had crashed into the bedroom, neither one of them clothed. Somehow, in the stumbling blind passion of the moment, Sakura had come out on top. It didn't matter, because Naruto had proven adaptable time and again. It was awkward for just about oh-point-four seconds when they realized neither one of them had done anything like this before and that oh my god this was really going to happen. Then they remembered they were ninja and ninja are trained to compensate for the unexpected.

What followed was powerful and amazing and undeniably hot. His hands grasped her wrists, finally pinning her underneath him, and she bit into his shoulder as they moved together. He was all inquisitive hands and questing lips, a mouth that suckled her soft skin gently one moment and then trailed kisses like molten magma the next. His hands cupped her, breathing hot over the back of her neck as they spooned in his lap. Because he wanted her, and his voracious hunger proved as much. To Naruto, she was the perfection of the female form. The blonde had almost six years of puberty and pent-up sexual frustration to let out and Sakura was the object of his fantasies, his dreams and the living embodiment of every desire he had every indulged in.

To Sakura, Naruto was sex incarnate. He was masculine, provocative, a touch of playful. With her, he ran along the delicate line between too gentle and too rough and found the perfect balance. He was a fount of unending stamina and will and it served him well between the sheets. His prankster nature found an outlet in teasing, for he was irritatingly good at it and seemed to take an almost visceral thrill in what it did to her. He represented the wild, carefree, live-in-the-moment nature of this uncontrollable tryst and she threw herself on him with reckless abandon. It was instinctual and primal, and the pink-haired woman had become beautiful and radiant and glowing all at once.

It had been late by the time they had finished. As though making up for lost time, Sakura had coupled with Naruto until she could no longer muster the energy to leave the bed. He had cradled her in his arms and they slept heavily that night.

In the morning, he had been called away on a mission and was gone before they could actually talk about where this put them. They never did get around to discussing it.

In the end, neither of them mentioned it. They kept quiet about it and resumed life as it had always been. She knew it hurt him, but he never said a word.

Then one evening she found herself on his doorstep. She had been walking and found herself there without remembering the path she had taken. He opened the door and she came in without invitation. Naruto didn't mind, because he was never quite able to say `no' to her. It was a facet of his personality she would come to enjoy. Maybe it was the mutual attraction, or maybe they were both high on memories of last time, but whatever it was they found themselves having sex again. When it was over, she left. She never stayed the night again.

What followed was a long friendship brought to culmination as just short of lovers punctuated by numerous instances of intense physical intimacy. Neither one of them could quite explain it, though Naruto never really tried to put it in words. At best, when she asked him, he would gesture in the air for a second, get this helpless look on his face and start kissing her again. This odd existence stretched on for over three years.

He was the perfect on-and-off fuck-buddy. At night, he was passionate and readily available and practically falling over himself to pleasure her. During the day, he was calm and collected, befitting a shinobi of his position, but she could see the little twinkle in his eyes whenever he looked at her. She figured he rather enjoyed having a secret that didn't happen to be a demon fox sealed in his stomach. It was just the two of them, and there was an unspoken agreement that there wouldn't be anyone else. No one else knew about this strange agreement, so both of them were still technically able to play the field. But they didn't, because this was just peachy as far as they were concerned. They had near-consequence-free sex and great companionship. It was comfortable. They went out, enjoyed things as only close friends could, but then retreated back to the bedroom like experienced lovers.

Sakura found herself in the dominant position. They were only intimate when she came over, when she wanted it to happen. And the idea that Naruto might not want it never entered her head, because he's the sort of guy who could turn in on and off like a light bulb. She could make him beg, and he could make her scream. It was good.

Then everything changed.

Sasuke, back from his mission as an avenger, decided it was time to come back to Konoha and settle down. The clan needed to be restored, yes, and the Uchiha clan just didn't seem right anywhere but Konoha.

Who could help him in this endeavor? As the raven-haired man knew absolutely nothing about love or relationships, he chose the one woman he could tolerate for extended periods of time that wouldn't be a threat to his leadership of the clan. So when returned, he asked Sakura to seriously consider dating him. It was what she always wanted, and somewhere deep inside, a little bit of her heart still loved him, still remembered that pure, angelic love she had for him as a child.

She said yes. It was the only thing she had ever truly wanted.

It was so easy to slip back into the old routines for her, and now her tall, dark and handsome was even letting her hold his hand. She had even gotten him to kiss her inside of a month. For a man as cold and withdrawn as Uchiha Sasuke, she had considered it a great victory. Ino had just smiled when Sakura announced the good news, and then given her the most straight-forward, lacking-in-sugar piece of advice she had ever received.

Stop living in the past. Sakura still didn't know what she meant by that.

She had not, however, missed the hurt look that Naruto had given her when he heard the news. `Hurt,' actually, is a gentle euphemism for the look he gave her, but it gets the point across. He looked destroyed. But he had covered it up with that foxy shit-eating grin he always wears and Sakura put it out of her mind, because she had more important things to do.

Like get Sasuke into the sack. And get a ring. And get pregnant, though she didn't realize this right away.


Naruto waits the absolute minimum of 181 seconds to eat his ramen, 180 for the ramen to soften and 1 to get the food to his lips. Sakura hesitates for a little while, because she's not really hungry, then takes her chopsticks and gets to work.

He eats with all the grace and dignity of a forty-ton brick making a crash landing on an orphanage. It does not disturb her; she's seen it too many times to care. If he were her official boyfriend, though, she might make some sort of effort to instill manners in him. But he's not, so she lets him go. It is odd that he can eat with such rapidity and not get any of it on his face or clothes. Must take training, she muses.

Their relationship has changed since Sasuke returned. They do not speak of what they once had, and she knows that it hurts him to see her arm-and-arm with Sasuke, because she never showed any form of affection for him when they were in public. She no longer comes over, even just to see him without any of the sex. She knows it's dangerous, because she's never been over once since that mission and not slipped between the sheets with Naruto.

He did invite her over one last time after she announced the news. His blue eyes were guarded and sad and he couldn't quite sit still while he asked her. She had said she'd try to come over. In the end, her hand was on the doorknob, but she just couldn't open it. Because she knew what would happen if she went it, this would constitute a choice and she has always been terrible at making those.

So she ran away and didn't look back. When she next saw him, he didn't speak a word about it, but it had probably cut him deeper than anything that had ever happened. It wasn't until almost eight months later than she found herself on Naruto's doorstep again.

Sakura and Sasuke had had a fight. Not the usual argument, because they have those all the time and that's natural, (right?) but a knock-down, drag-out yelling match. Words were said and feelings were hurt. Sakura ran out of the house crying and didn't stop until she was pounding on his door, begging him to let her in. He had hesitated, unsure of the right thing to do. She knew, because she could sense him pause at the door. He shoved aside whatever mental debate he was having and let her in. She had thrown herself into his arms and just cried, like she used to back in the old days.

Only Sasuke made her cry like that.

No one even noticed that Naruto never made her cry. Life just isn't fair.

Somehow, with all the gentle comforting and softly-spoken words, they had ended up in bed again. It hadn't surprised her. She knew what she was getting into when he opened the door and she didn't care. But it had been different that time. What they were doing wasn't playful or funny or anything like what they used to do. It was quiet. He had been in complete control the entire time and set the pace and changed the beat to his whim. It was all powerful, smoldering glances and looks filled with intense longing, touches that had secret meanings. Every little bit of history between them was relived. He whispered in her ear the things she had always wanted to hear, and she was lost to him, then and there and forever in that moment.

For the first and last time, Naruto made love to Sakura. There were simply no words to describe how it made her feel. Cherished, loved, desired, respected, they didn't come close to expressing it. Even superlatives didn't quiet cover it. She felt perfect.

And when it was over, she was crying again and wouldn't let go. The loss of that impossible feeling was devastating. It was only then that Naruto asked her to leave. She could tell he didn't want her to go, but he knew that this wouldn't take them anywhere they wanted to go.

She let go, cleaned up, and left. But she could never pin down exactly why it hurt so much. She went home to Sasuke and they patched things up.

She has a dozen lies in storage for whenever she thinks about it. One of them jumps out, telling her, `It's the only time you've ever had multiple orgasms,' and while true, it doesn't stop it from sounding stupid and irrelevant to her. It's more like that heart-shattering loss she saw in his eyes as he said goodbye. For him, it was finality, it was closure. This was it, one more for the road, for old time's sake, and so on. And he basically told her not to come back…

Naruto has finished his ramen, has been finished for a few minutes now, and is considering the merits of starting another cup. He looks at her and decides that it's probably best for him to be someplace else now. Sakura is getting sort of misty-eyed and he suddenly feels trapped in the small room. The animal in him suggests he gets the hell out and he complies.

He stands up, throwing his empty cup into the garbage with the impeccable aim of a ninja, and walks to the archway, which is more like a hole in the wall, that leads back to the hallway. He hesitates, as though he wants to say something, but then decides to continue walking.

She grabs another ramen after a moment.

It is almost twenty minutes later when she finally comes out of the kitchen. Eating is known to make women feel better when sad, but eating five cups of instant ramen does not have the same effect. So much for that.

"Naruto," she calls to get his attention. He looks over the back of the couch, but does not stand up and walk over to her like he used to, "Can I get a shower? I feel like shit."

"Yeah," he nods, although in the back of his mind he's not entirely thrilled at the prospect of her taking off clothes anywhere in his apartment.

She doesn't say thanks, but it's understood. It's a very short walk down that thin hallway to a bathroom. Some of the fixtures in this room are cracked and broken. One of the lights above the mirror is out, but the small room is still lit well enough. The door runs up against the toilet seat when it opens, but it is better that it swings inward anyway. There is only a shower, and it is really only large enough for one-and-a-half people, despite the number of times they have been in it together.

Sakura disrobes and turns on the water.

Naruto frowns. He is not watching the program flicking on the idiot box before him. His eyes have focused somewhere in the vicinity of the wall behind the television. He is frowning because he did not pick up the sound of her locking the bathroom door with his super-sharp ninja ears. It confuses him, because she never locked the door when she took a shower before, because it was always an implicit invitation for him to come join her. Now, he's not sure whether she's asking for him to come in or it's just habit to leave it unlocked. As much as he wants to go in, wants it to be like it used to be, and really wants her, he's not sure that's what she wants to happen.

Although, if he had to guess, he'd say that she'd probably just make room for him and then they'd never get any washing done. She likes to behave that way and he'd be damned if he can ever figure out the reasons behind it.

Hell, he wants her so bad he can't sit still.

She steps into the spray and allows it to carry away every trace of Sasuke. That wasn't really the point of it, but it helps her to forget this morning.

"Be gentle," she whispers. Sasuke says nothing.

Now that she has some time and distance, Sakura can reflect on her relationship with Sasuke. Sure, it's great to be needed, and she cannot deny that this train was really going somewhere before this morning. She cannot understand why her intimacy with Naruto would provoke such a reaction, such a final reaction. They had been together for almost two years now and he wants to break up over something so trivial as her past?

It's not trivial, but she can't quite admit that to herself, It meant something and you know it. Sometimes, Sakura really hated that honest part of her brain.

She sighs, allowing her over-large forehead to rest against the cool tile. Now that she thinks about it… it wasn't even very good sex. It was just… sex. Sex for copulation, sex for procreation. It had no fire or energy, though she had given every last ounce of effort to make it amazing. Oh sure, Sasuke had a good time, but his orgasm is necessary for conception. Men are lucky bastards sometimes.

She laughs bitterly. The lingering scent of her dark-haired lover is gone now. It had been setting her on edge subconsciously ever since this morning. Now, finally, she might be able to relax. But if it made her nervous, it probably made Naruto furious. The blonde's sense of smell is legendary, almost up to the quality of an Inuzuka, and he would have noticed as he opened the door. There was no way to hide it from Naruto. He could smell the sweat and salt and Sasuke on her skin.

He knows. And on some level, the smell of sex on her body arouses him. But then he realizes that he wasn't the one who put it there and that excitement fades. He loves the way she smells. He loves the shampoo she uses, the fragrant cream soaps she indulges in, the delicate, flowery, earthy smell of her skin. He's had a taste and he wants more. She knows that for a fact. He hates the way Sasuke's stench is all over her like some overpowering odor, all musk and testosterone and tainting her fresh and pure smell.

She eyes narrow as she reaches for the tray holding the shampoo. Her bottle is gone. So is her special soap. When they were still together, Sakura had left a few beauty products here, for touch-up purposes and such, because she found herself at his apartment at all hours of the day and night and sometimes she needed to get cleaned up. She had a special set of shower products just for her and they're not there anymore. She hadn't used up the last of it when they were last together, had she?

"Naruto!" she yells, maybe he knows where they are, "Where's my shampoo?"

"Uh…" there's a pause, "I don't know!" She rolls her eyes. Way to be useful there, Naruto.

She shrugs and grabs for his bottle. This probably wouldn't do too much damage to her hair, she hopes.

In the living room, Naruto sits on the couch. His teeth grind together slowly. He can hear her in the bath now, can hear the subtle changes in the noise the shower makes as it hits different parts of her body. It's in her hair now, now it's angled between her shoulder blades. Her arms are probably up, running her fingers through that long, silky, luxurious pink hair… He shifts on the couch, trying not to think about how much he'd like to have it in his hands.

That damnable sound changes again. She's probably lathering up the washcloth. His eyes bulge with the realization that it is his washcloth. This just isn't fair, he thinks, containing the impulse to wish he was that lucky washcloth. Soon, she's going to be rubbing that same cloth all over her body… over her breasts… her firm butt… between those long, dancer's legs… water and soap and glistening skin…

With a growl, he turns up the idiot box, hoping to drown out the sound of washing.

It is almost an hour later when she comes out of the bathroom. It is a short walk back into the living room. She sees the back of Naruto's head and knows that he is watching television. Anime, because he never grew up. She snorts and sits down next to him.

He looks over and almost loses his eyeballs. She is wearing his terry-cloth bathrobe and a towel is wrapped about her hair. It's not a flattering ensemble in the least, but it's the subtle hints that she's not wearing anything else that get him.

I really should have put on a shirt, he thinks. Unfortunately for him, he never plans ahead.

He's controlling his breathing now and she controls a smirk. The pink-haired woman has never been able to resist teasing him. He's staring at her legs now, which are not covered by his robe, and she shifts them every so slightly to emphasize their length and flawless skin. It works perfectly.

"I wasn't a leg man, Sakura-chan," he kissed from her calf to her inner thigh, "'til you made me one." How long ago did he say that? She couldn't remember.

His eyes are glazed. She's always considered her legs to be one of her best features, but when Naruto sees them he just goes all to pieces. It's only a matter of moments before she removes the towel holding her hair up. It spills down over her shoulders, still slightly dark and just a bit wet, but it doesn't matter. The damage has already been done.

He catches the subtle smell of his shampoo, a scent he had only before associated with himself. It smells good on her, like it belongs there, almost erotic really, and he can't resist the urge to touch that lustrous hair. It's a mere moment of silent internal battle before he folds like a house of cards.

His blue eyes lock with her pale jade ones and there's an apology written there. He reaches over slowly, as though afraid she'll bolt if he moves too fast, and firmly wraps his fingers in her hair. The palm of his hand rests against the back of her neck and she has just enough time to realize how warm his hands are before he leans over and claims her lips boldly in a kiss. She tastes like mint. She even used his mouthwash.

Her eyes flutter shut even as that annoying part of her mind speaks up again. This is what a real kiss feels like. But she already knows, because Naruto's kissed her like this before. She moves closer, leaning against the side of his body as they shamelessly make out on the couch. His kisses are desperate and possessive, but she pays them no mind.

He's kissing with everything he's got now and she crawls into his lap, enjoy the response from her `seat' as her hands run down his muscled chest. He moans into her mouth.

Just when she's really starting to get into it, he pushes her away.

"Sakura-chan…" he gasps, "We can't do this." Normally, she might agree. But this is Naruto and this is his apartment and she can't ignore this thing she's sitting on and the fact that there's only a thin bit of clothing between her and it. She grinds their hips together and his head rolls on his neck.

It takes absolutely no effort for her to seduce Naruto. She kisses him again, biting his lower lip. Her lips find their way to his ear and whisper, "Take off your pants." His hips lift her up and he can't seem to accede fast enough.

She slides down his legs and pools at his feet. Those blue eyes are gazing at her in hopeful disbelief. It's almost like he doesn't think she's going to go through with it. That makes it like a challenge to her, because she's done this to him before and he should know better than to challenge a lady. Her smile is catty as she takes it firmly in her hand and lavishes attention upon him with mouth and tongue.

Ino would have looked at her in horror if Sakura ever told her that she was doing this. "We're kunoichi," she would say, "We don't suck guys off! That's gross!" But to the other woman it didn't bother her so much, the texture was sort of strange, but all in all okay. True, it wasn't her favorite activity, but it was a means to an end. She pauses in her work to look up at the blonde man. He's sweating and holding very, very still and she knows it will happen soon.

Ino doesn't understand what it's like to have true power over a man. Sure, intercourse is a powerful experience between a man and a woman, but fellatio gives complete and utter control to the woman. It's intoxicating to watch Naruto writhe as she changes depth, pressure, suction, hand motion, or any one of a dozen things she can do. He can't do anything but let her continue, and she loves this because Naruto is the most powerful person she knows and he's completely under her thrall.

He grunts out a warning after a while, teetering on the precipice of bliss. She speeds up her ministrations and watches as his head falls, his back arches and his eyes squeeze closed. He resists her ravenous mouth's insistence for just a second or two longer and then it is too much for him. It's like he's being electrocuted by her mouth for a second the way he seizes up, then jerks spasmodically as his control gives up the ghost.

She's a kunoichi, that's for sure. She does distasteful things for a living and doesn't flinch and this is far from distasteful. In fact, it has a lot of flavor, and none of it that particularly offends her. It's familiar, the sort of flavor that she'll always connect with Naruto's essence. She's a medic-nin by trade and she has consumed far worse tasting things in her herbal anti-venoms than semen. So she swallows, because it pleases men and Naruto is no exception to this rule.

She climbs back on top of him, reasserting her dominance over him. He does not resist, breathing heavily. She kisses him again, light and soft, teasing and promising, and he can taste himself in her mouth. It takes far more than that to put him off.

She was smiling again as he rolled her onto her back and pushed aside the robe where it covered her thighs. This is the payoff, the point, Ino, Sakura thinks as Naruto proceeds to kiss his way between her legs, slowing making his way to that sacred junction. Sure, sometimes he does it without prompting, but Sakura really needed to feel this and using her mouth is the way to guarantee that he'll use his own on her. It's like he owes her or something after she does it. She doesn't understand the male mind sometimes.

Oh, her back lifts from the couch as he starts using both his mouth and his fingers. He likes to tease her, and does until her patience runs out and she forces his head between her legs. When she does, he just takes her whole butt in his hands and goes. The intensity of it about breaks her mind. It is a very short time before she collapses, her body tensed with a wracking pleasure. Her green eyes are impossibly wide now and she can't seem to breathe anymore. It's frightening and wonderful all at the same moment. Her climax gives out and her whole body gives up.

She needed to feel that, because Sasuke didn't do that to her. He wasn't interested in foreplay or teasing, just the intercourse, the coupling, and the inevitable climax. He's not interested in satisfying her sexually, because it is ancillary to his goals and desires. Sasuke's not particularly interested in sex either, because it makes him feel weak and helpless afterward, and he's not strong enough yet to indulge himself.

Unlike her, Naruto loves the flavor of Sakura. Can't get enough of it, really. Because it seems to fit her perfectly, sweet and earthy, just like a beautiful flower. Because it reminds him of this action and doing it to her and it makes his whole body burn for more. He's ready to go again, but he gathers her up into his arms carefully. She looks at him questioningly before she realizes that he's taking her back to his bedroom, which is the unofficial headquarters for this whole relationship. It's a seedy den of sex and lust and Sakura can't wait to get there, to do the things they always do there.

They're on his bed now, and he's slowly removing the bathrobe, inching it down off of her shoulders to expose her breasts. She doesn't blush at the exposure; she hasn't for a long time now. He's seen her before, so why should she be shy? She's as naked as he before he begins to work. His lips touch her own briefly before trekking south, forging a fiery trail across one shoulder. His hands have cupped her modesty now, and she forces herself not to vocalize as his thumbs brush against her nipples.

There are many things that Sakura knows, but very little she understands. She knows that Naruto has never touched another woman, but being as handsome and good at this as he is, she has never understood why he keeps letting her cross that threshold. She knows that he loves her with a passion he cannot fully express in words, but she doesn't understand why he hasn't given up in favor of another, more stable woman who has her shit together. She knows that it sears her like fire whenever she hears those words he does speak, but she can't for the life of her get her head around why.

His mouth finds a firm pink nipple and she stops caring about the difference between knowing and understanding. She stays quiet, holding out against his assault. Her hands explore his body, finding the little points he likes touched, the places he needs squeezed, and everything in between. He shudders against her, and she pulls his head against her chest.

She knows that Naruto doesn't care that her breasts are small. He loves to touch and play and feel precisely because they are hers. It doesn't occur to him that Sakura's hips are a little too small for her waist or that her figure isn't the desirable hourglass but is instead long and lean. He's not interested in comparing her to other women, because only she can make him this out of his head. Only she does this to him, and that's just the way he likes it, because Naruto instinctually understands the concept of loyalty and pair-bonding, even if he's never had any formal education on the subject.

She's not his woman, but she is the one he wants. She is perfect to him. She knows he feels this way, and it is flattering after a fashion.

Rolling him over, she revels in her dominance for just a second before taking him so hard it's almost violent. He groans, shutting his eyes tightly, but his hands are already in all the right places.

Most of all, Sakura knows that she comes back to this tiny apartment on the bad side of town just because of him. She doesn't know why yet, because Naruto has nothing to offer her, no title, no money, no prestige, no family. He's the commander of the ANBU, he's gone on long missions all the time, he's always busy, and she's heard what everyone says about him. But it doesn't matter. She keeps ending up on her doorstep and then ending up inside and then ending up fucking him and she doesn't get it.

It's because he's good at it, she tells herself. Very good at it. He's got amazing hands with fingers made articulate from years of seal-work and a big cock that she can't seem to get enough of and he's very competent with the use of his tongue. They've been `sexual partners' for years now. Naruto's familiar with every inch of her body. The blonde learned just how fast and how hard and all the right times to change position. He knows all the important spots (and almost all of the lesser ones) and pushes them all when she needs them (even if she doesn't know she does) and in the right order. He's so in-tune with her needs, he can bring her to climax while blindfolded; this is not an exaggeration, he's done it before.

But more than that, he can sense her moods, understand how she feels and what she wants him to do to her body, because they have learned that every time is different. He's learned the words she likes to hear, not too mushy and not too dirty, and does not hesitate to say them.

Her mind snaps to another of her lovers, the raven-haired Uchiha scion. He doesn't have the same benefit of experience that Naruto does. He hasn't learned everything about her. In her mind, she repeats this over and over, like a mantra. She doesn't want to believe that Sasuke is actually clumsy and brutal by comparison. It's getting increasingly harder to convince herself of that with Naruto driving her wild like this.

In truth, Sasuke's only interested in the climax. That's what fulfills his goals, and we all know he pursues his goals with a single-minded, self-destructive fervor. Climax brings heirs and that's what he wants. He's silent during the entire coupling and doesn't say she's beautiful. He's never said he loves her. It's against his principles. This is something that she cannot ignore and it hurts her.

Naruto says it sometimes, when she wants to hear it. He always understands.

And being finished by Sasuke's fingers instead of a cock just plain sucks.

She's moving beneath him. She wants to believe that Sasuke's doing this to her, but she knows, with that rational, practical, traitorous part of her mind that it's just Naruto. This feeling is just because Naruto knows what to do, Sasuke can learn, can't he?

Sakura doesn't want to consider it might be because of Naruto's incredible stamina or because he fills her up better than Sasuke. (Especially not the latter, because size doesn't matter, she tells herself. She's embarrassed for Sasuke's… inferiority, though she'd never admit it.) She tells herself it's because Naruto's a physically larger man all over and it's nothing to be sensitive about. She knows otherwise, because it does make some amount of difference.

She doesn't believe that Naruto can make her feel this way because he loves her, truly, passionately, madly loves her and he puts all of that into the physical. It's just Naruto's usual enthusiasm for any task that makes her whole body twitch and shiver with the slightest touch. It's just the anticipation of climax that lets him make her wet without effort.

It's another lie. As hard as she tries, Sakura can't get away from this one. Because she doesn't scream like that with Sasuke.

It's going to be soon now, she hasn't been trying to resist it. His fingers trail between her legs and brush it carefully, even as he moves within her. Her eyes open, even though she wants to lay back and pretend she's with Sasuke. She's been trying to imagine this man is Sasuke. He's not and she burns with shame. It's lost amongst the pleasure-blush of her pale skin.

Naruto's leaned back now, so he can use his hands and see and touch every part of her. Her hands fist in the sheets as he changes angles, one hand remaining on her hips to touch it every so often, the other caressing any bit of soft skin within reach. She whimpers and cannot remember when her legs wrapped around his waist… but now he's hitting those secret spots and it's hard to care.

His eyes are shining with something she doesn't want to name. "I lov-"

"Don't," she cuts him off, sharper than she had intended. She doesn't want love, she wants pleasure. She wants to close her eyes and shut out the world until it's only her and this feeling. He stays silent until the coupling is over.

He carefully brings her right up to the edge, then pushes her over. She falls into the blackness ungracefully, her whole body seizing about him. Those eyelids, the betrayers, cannot decide whether to snap shut or fly wide, so they settle for scrunching up, half-lidded. Her back arches off the bed and she's gasping words with no meanings now. It didn't feel like this with Sasuke, her bastardly mind whispers. She ignores it, and almost ignores the bolt of hurt that shoots through her.

Naruto's got a satisfied look on his face as she collapses back to the bed, breathing hard and glistening with sweat. He's come to a stop, but after a moment he starts up again. Her body's burning like fire and she can't hold in the moaning anymore. The blonde leans over her and her arms lock about his back and neck automatically. Their lips crash together and the sex is fierce and wild now, just like the first time. She almost forgets to kiss back, for the feeling of it all. The tempo scales up again, Naruto's on an end-run now and he's throwing his weight behind each thrust now. His name slides from her between her clenched teeth, though she didn't want it to. She can feel his grin as he buries his face against her neck, lips moving, breath scorching.

She can't ignore him now. It's too hard. His scent fills her nostrils as his everywhere hair brushes against her cheek. The ceiling she has come to associate with Naruto's bedroom glares down at her accusingly, as though it knows her inner mind.

Sakura gives in, like she always does, and becomes that responsive female that complements male sexual aggression perfectly. She's kissing any part of him that comes to her mouth, nibbling on his ears and whispering his name again and again, like a chant, like a prayer. He notices the change immediately, and redoubles his efforts because this is right to him.

For a while, they are together, just like they were before Sasuke came into the picture. This is what he's been looking for, this mad crazy sex without inhibitions or worries or a thought for the next moment. It's the way Naruto has always worked and that's the way he works best. The sort of sex where he's just a man and she's just a woman, albeit the most beautiful one he's ever seen. His teeth scrape against her delicate neck and she arches against him. They grind together, and her face is a beautiful color of pink deeper than her hair, and he's growling like an animal. It's passionate and powerful and she can't see it ever stopping.

He holds on just long enough to finish her again, and she screams out his name. In a way, that's more satisfying than the actual orgasm he has seconds later. She feels him finish in her, pressing in as deeply as he can, because he likes to end that way. She gathers his head in her arms and holds him. He makes no noise, which is counter to her expectations when she thinks about Naruto, but she knows that he's always silent during climax.

They collapse together and he's panting against her neck. For a time, they remain that way, unmoving. Then he gathers his strength and rolls them over shakily. She has never understood why he does this, because she's a kunoichi and can take his full weight, but he prefers to wind down like this, so she says nothing.

It is silent. Both are lost in their own thoughts. Naruto's face is screwed up in a smile he's so obviously trying to resist. Sakura isn't looking at him, though she's sprawled against him like a wave against the rocks. She's running this over and over again in her mind and she just can't figure it out. The appeal is obvious… yes, but why does it keep happening?

She wants to go home now. She can feel his fingers as he gently strokes her hair and she doesn't want them there. Goddamn it, size is irrelevant, skill can be learned, and enthusiasm can be faked so why does Naruto make her feel this way? Why is it Naruto and not Sasuke? She doesn't know the answer, though there is a possibility she doesn't want to consider. The pink-haired girl doesn't know anything anymore.

All she knows is that tomorrow she's going to have to find a new place to live. She can't live with Sasuke anymore, and Ino's got her own problems… she's running out of options. She'd live with her parents, but they'd ask questions that she won't answer and it'll be uncomfortable. It doesn't cross her mind that Naruto would let her live with him in a heartbeat.

"Tomorrow," he breaks the silence, "we'll go sort things out with Sasuke." The thought of it makes her hands ball into fists nervously for a second. "And if we can't," he sighs heavily, "I'll help you look for someplace to new to live."

She pulls out of his arms. It's not hard, because he knows that sooner or later she'll get up and leave. Frequently, she doesn't say anything to him after they're finished. He knows he's being used, but Naruto loves her and he'd go through pain and fire and death and torture for her if she asked, so being used as a sex-toy is considerably more attractive than any of those. But today something is different and he can't quite explain it.

His hand catches her wrist and she flinches at the contact. He's never attempted to stop her from leaving before. The blonde has always had the good grace to not make leaving hard on her, because just as she doesn't know why she shows up on his doorstep, she doesn't know what makes her leave him every time.

"Stay," he says softly. He looks up at her and their eyes meet. In those heartbreakingly-blue eyes, she can see something that startles her. The look he's giving her is hopeful and just a bit lecherous (because she's still naked and he could never help himself) but more importantly it is fragile. This want for her to stay with him is delicate and quiet and everything Naruto is not. She's dashed this silent hope so many times, and he's only just now, a year-and-a-half after this relationship should have ended, gotten up the courage to ask her.

"Stay," he repeats quietly, "With me," he continues in the same pleading tone, "Just for tonight."

This only serves to show her that he really means it and for a second she considers running away, far away until he cannot see her and hiding forever. Then she slides back into the bed again and he wraps his arms around her. The look on his face shows that he believes this is almost too good to be true, but he doesn't say anything. He's also learned the benefit of being silent.

They lie together and don't speak. She's considering again and Naruto is actually smiling. He's very handsome when he smiles, she notes absently. Then she just gives it up and molds herself against his hard outline.

They spend time talking and laughing and even enjoying one another's body again, because that's what they always do when they are together. They only stop when he finally exhausts her late that evening, and she falls into blissful sleep. There are no nightmares tonight. It is nearing noon the next day before they leave the bed again.

But she smiles, because she wants to smile. She has done enough frowning and crying and begging in her time for a thousand lifetimes and she doesn't want to do it anymore. Perhaps if she does this right, and maybe if she plays her cards carefully, everything will turn out alright.

Sakura will stay with Naruto. Of her own free will, she'll make this decision. Tomorrow they will go see Sasuke and he'll fly into rage at Naruto, but Naruto will just walk away. He won't want to turn the Uchiha into a smear in front of the one person that actually loves the bastard. And she'll just be amazed that he allowed his pride to suffer for her. She won't understand that either, because in all of her years of loving and giving, she has never gotten what it's really like to actually love.

Eventually she'll get the hints and figure it out, but it'll be a few years yet. One day she'll stay because she wants to, because it's where she belongs. But until that time comes, this is what she has to do. And it has to be done this way.

Because it's the only way she'll finally understand.

Author's Notes:

Holy shit. I cannot even believe I wrote this. It wasn't supposed to happen at all like that. And, originally, I meant it to be only about the size of It's a Thankless Job. I always overshoot the mark, I think. I'm not Sunfreak, but I think I'd like to be as concise sometimes. Sadly, I'm just me and you have to settle for my long-winded exposition. Again, I didn't mean for this to be a lemon, but I realized halfway through that it simply had to be considering the content and subject matter. See if you can spot where I stopped writing one day and came back the next. See if you can spot what I wrote out on paper during class and what I just sort of wrote on the spur of the moment.

Thus, because this is a lemon, I am relegating it to Sadly, this is the first in a series of three. This one focuses on Sakura, so I bet you can guess who the other two are about. If Hinata is `Unsatisfied with Work,' then these three are `Not Happy at Home.' You'll see, trust me.

For those of you who actually read the whole thing, good for you. For those of you who are just interested in the lemon part, well, I guess I can't really pass judgment. I'm not certified. For those of you who stumbled onto this on Mediaminer, this'll probably be the only thing I'm going to post there. I'm trying to build continuity on FanFiction, and I'm putting almost all of my efforts there. Go look for the same penname there if you're interested in my works.

That's all for today. Geno Calamari out.