• If I had to

    I would put myself right beside you

    So let me ask

    Would you like that?

    Would you like that?

    She leaned against the railing, her viridian eyes locked on the Hokage Monument. Her gaze lingered on Tsunade’s carved face and she let out a sigh. Turning away, she found herself facing Shikamaru. “Oh, it’s just you.”

    He raised an eyebrow, and took out a cigarette, “I thought I’d find you here, Haruno.” He took out Asuma’s old lighter and lit up. A moment passed before he spoke again, “I’m sorry about Tsunade-sama.” He watched as Sakura gripped the iron railing until her knuckles turned white.

    “It…it’s not your fault. I’m sure…that she will-” she paused and took a deep breath, “that she will wake up.” He could tell that she was trying to be brave. He wasn’t called a genius for nothing.

    “It’s all right if you cry, Haruno,” he said softly, remembering the death of his mentor. His father had riled him up and left him to cry to let his emotions out. He took one last drag from his cigarette before putting it out. “I’ll leave if you want…”

    Sakura shook her head. Her voice cracked as she spoke, “I d-don’t mi-” her façade finally crumbling and tears rolled down her pale cheeks. She grabbed Shikamaru by his chuunin vest and buried her face in it.

    He was caught by surprise. He was expecting her to tell him to leave or something, but not this. Anything but this. “Haru-?”

    “Why? W-why is it that a-all the people…I care about…” she sniffed. “They all…disappear?” He swallowed. How was he supposed to answer that? Women were so complicated.

    What should I do, dammit? he thought as Sakura sobbed harder. He remembered something Ino had said about girls liking it when they are comforted. However, this was Haruno Sakura. She’d probably see her being comforted as a sign of her being weak. And she was by no means weak. Still…

    Sakura felt him awkwardly pat her back and stiffened. She pushed him back slightly and turned her face up to his. “Shika-?” she was cut off by him embracing her. He rested his head on hers.

    “I’m not good at this sort of thing. I’m sorry, Sakura.” he said, releasing her. She watched, stupefied, as he began to walk away.

    Before he could leave, she grabbed his arm, “Wait.” He paused and turned around. “I, um…I didn’t m-mind.” He noticed that her tears were mostly gone. “It felt good. Thank you.”

    Shikamaru raised an eyebrow and her face turned red. He scratched the back of his neck and avoided her eyes, “Um, you’re welcome. Ino said I wasn’t really the ‘comfort your friend’ type.” He tilted his head up to look up at the darkening skies. “In other words, I suck at it.” He looked down, back at her.

    She made a face, “Then Ino doesn’t really know you, does she?” She smiled and turned her back at him. “You do know how. You understand people. Though you are a bit awkward about it.” She let a small sad laugh escape and faced him again, “I can tell.”

    “Huh, very perceptive of you, Haruno,” Shikamaru lightly smiled. “So you really ‘know’ me? Is that what you are saying?”

    Sakura laughed softly and smacked him on his shoulder. “Better than Ino does, I’m sure. Even if she is in your team.” He snorted. “What?”

    “Nothing, it’s just a bit funny that someone who barely paid attention to me back in the Academy knows me better than my own teammate.” Her ears burned. It was true. Back in Academy days, the only person she had really paid attention to was Sasuke. As did the rest of the other kunoichi in their class.

    “God, you make me sound like I’m shallow or something,” she scoffed. He blinked in surprise. “But…what gave you the idea that I would be here?”

    “Since Tsunade-sama is not dead, this would be the only other place I would find you. You weren’t in the hospital…so…” he left that thought finish by itself. He joined her by the railing to look at the Hokage Monument. “Looking at them…it gives me hope.”

    She nodded, and replied in a far-away voice, “Yeah.” Her eyes wandered from Tsunade’s face over to the Third’s. “…me too.” She leaned on Shikamaru’s shoulder. “Hope for the sake of our futures.” She looked at him. “And for Konoha.”

    “Yeah, for Konoha.”