Chapter 4: Itching for a Scratching
Days later, after Asuma had been buried and laid to rest…after some semblance of normalcy came drifting back to Konoha, Sakura wandered through life in a daze. Kurenai still needed more time, and although Sakura could control her fits of genjutsu daydreams, the distraction of the Knucklehead sat on her shoulder every minute of every day.
Just kiss him! Get it over with! Then you can stop wondering!
But she wasn’t going to; it was wrong. She wasn’t going to be responsible for him burning up in that chakra, or the pain of it burning away his skin. And no matter how many times her thoughts bent toward his blue-eyed grin, she vowed to stay away from him.
Someone else would have to scratch the itch. But who?
Sai would cause almost as much trouble as Naruto. He would catch on and they would both have to deal with the consequences. Too bad.
She could have made him look even more like Sasuke.
Still. No teammates. She had made a rule.
Who else? Someone young, hormonal and…volatile…and unlikely to catch on.
She rose from the front steps of the Hospital, and stretched, the sweet smile on her face not matching the heat of her thoughts. Perfect. She waved and went through the hand signs as the scruffy young man threw a stick for Akamaru.
His brown eyes met hers and the flurry of pink petals swam between both of them. Drifting away, the blossoms revealed a green rolling landscape and a cherry tree above their heads. She twined her fingers in his hair, and kissed him.
He didn’t move.
She flicked her tongue between his lips, and he still didn’t move. Pulling herself closer to his chest, she forced herself to moan, “Oh, Kiba-kun…” His lips flickered, as though his discretion wavered.
“S-S-Sakura?” he stuttered, sounding hopelessly confused.
This wasn’t as hot as she had thought it would be. In fact, she wasn’t turned on at all. It was all mechanics and spit and…the smell of wet dog.
She stood on tiptoes and kissed along his cheek whispering in his ear. “I can be whoever you want.”
His hands clutched her waist, pulling her closer, pushing her hips into his. “Oh,” he breathed in her ear, gently nibbling on her earlobe. “Hinata.”
Glass shattered across her vision, and she stood on the hospital steps again, glaring at the prostrate form of her almost-dreamlover.
Well, duh. Of course that wouldn’t work.
She rubbed the back of her hand roughly across her lips, trying to deaden the memory. Maybe Kiba just wasn’t dangerous enough. That’s all. Then again, maybe it was just a dumb idea.
She wandered toward the library, determined to look for a cure. Maybe she could take something to keep herself under control. That would be the answer. A medicine. Simple. And then, maybe she could wait until Kurenai was ready, and she wouldn’t run the risk of ravaging Naruto when the dreams about his muscles rippling when he laughed woke her up in the middle of the night. She bit her lip and tried hard to think of a cure.
Just as she got to the library though, Shikamaru came out, digging in his gear for—a lighter?
He nodded at her as he passed, then went straight to the window, raised it, and crawled outside.
She stood there gaping as he leaned back against the sill, shoved a cigarette in his mouth and took a long, slow drag.
She studied his profile against the sunny glare, his eyes closed in deep concentration, eyebrows pulled low in a frown. That familiar pull uncoiled below her belly button, shimmered down into her hips. This one might work, at least it felt like she might feel something if they kissed right now. Not like the dog boy.
The warm expansion of chakra signaled the start of the genjutsu, and she stepped closer to the window, willing him to look at her.
Instead, she got a face full of smoke as he exhaled in her direction, eyes still closed. She choked and coughed, genjutsu falling away as she gasped for air.
“Don’t. Even. Think about it,” he breathed.
She tried to move, but she had stepped into the square of sunlight on the floor, and his shadows held her still. Cigarette hand clasped over the first two fingers of the other, he smirked and turned away. “Tch. I’m too busy for this right now.”
“I’m thinking! Go away.”
“But…” She couldn’t come up with an excuse, and her tongue refused to work anyway. She tittered and tried to mumble some innocuous lie.
He turned around, eyes open and blazing this time.
Her stomach flipped, oh, this one could have worked—if she hadn’t just blown it! Damn it! How embarrassing!
“Hmm.” He smirked again. “Maybe later.” In one swift movement, he dropped the jutsu, stuck the butt in his mouth and jumped away.
She buried her face in shaking hands, mortified—but the fire of lust in her blood had gotten worse.
That’s it; I’ll just go after the next one I run into. No thinking about it, no working up to things.
The door handle to Tsunade’s office slowly turned; the chakra signature felt familiar—male and one of the Konoha twelve, more than that she couldn’t say off the top of her head. And she wasn’t going to think about it.
She let the chakra of genjutsu build, expanding out as the slender form stepped through the doorway and colorless eyes met hers. Neji.
The petals didn’t even clear before he had released it, his expression never changing. “Sakura. That was unexpected.”
Stammering outside, roiling inside, she barely heard Shishou call her.
Neji inclined his head—such a small amount she couldn’t quite say if he had made the gesture—and walked away. Stuck up snob.
Shishou! She stumbled inside, dizzy with failure.
“Go get an update on Naruto’s progress, I have a feeling I’m about to have a situation on my hands.”
“Shishou…I don’t feel…I don’t want to talk to Naruto right now.” Her knees threatened to shake out from under her, but the reaction she expected didn’t materialize.
Tsunade raised an eyebrow, then let it drop. “Then talk to Kakashi and tell me tomorrow.” The shuffling papers meant it was time to go.
“Hai,” she answered.
“Oh, and Sakura.” Tsunade’s voice was gentle this time. “I know you need the help, but can you manage to give Kurenai a few more days?”
Sakura’s eyes flicked from Shishou to Shizune, who looked as shocked as Sakura felt. “Of course, Shishou.”
She had managed to get the update from Kakashi, and reported back to Tsunade. Naruto was making progress, and since she’d left him alone the kyuubi had made fewer appearances. That bit stabbed her in the chest. Sakura had put him in emotional knots and enticed the demon out just by being there—just like Orochimaru.
What did that say about her?
Then she found out what Shikamaru had been thinking about, and that Kakashi had gone with Team 10 to avenge Asuma’s death. She inadvertently volunteered her own team as back up, reasoning out loud through Tsunade’s options. Shizune disagreed, but Tsunade said yes, but…it all hinged on Naruto completing his jutsu. She had given him 24 hours.
So, here Sakura stood, moonlight reflecting off her arms as she opened his balcony door. It wouldn’t be wrong if she were actually helping him, right? And by helping him—inspiring him—to complete the jutsu, she’d also be helping Team 10 and Kakashi. Right? So, maybe just a little genjutsu fix…maybe just a few kisses…if it was all for a good cause? That made it okay, right?
Hell, yeah! Get on with it!
He sprawled across his bed on his stomach in a drab t-shirt and stupid looking boxers that tugged at her pulse. They were so…him. Stupid. Funny. Silly. Loud. And there was something reassuring in that honesty, that Naruto was Naruto all the way down deep.
She took another step, and another, until she could settle herself at the messy table.
Yep, he was himself all the way through, right down to the empty noodle cups and dirty dishes in the sink. Naruto didn’t have time to be civilized, and that thought had her skin tingling. If she could get him to stop thinking about it, making out with him would be fast, furious, a wild affair that would leave her breathless and begging for more.
She felt like gasping all ready, as he mumbled her name in his sleep. She let the genjutsu build, let it flood out from her and cast it over him like a warm blanket. He sighed and burrowed further into the pillow as pink fluttering filled her vision.
Steam rose from the hot springs; he squatted in front of the wall dividing the pools, naked and muttering.
Her eyes bulged; this was his dream. And he was trying to peep at her like some kind of…pervert!
Oh, lighten up. It’s what you wanted him to do in the first place!
Still, it was dangerous. A little scary. And way too hot to get anything done. Damn it!
She concentrated and shifted the scene back to the image that had haunted her for a week: Naruto on his training ground, slick with sweat, abdominal muscles rippling from the effort, shirt cast aside.
“Damn it!” he gasped.
She stood slightly behind him, moved by the disappointment on his profile. “What is it?”
“I didn’t want to train anymore today. I’m tired.” His grin took on a feral look. “And I wanted to see you…” He stopped and swallowed, fear rising in his eyes.
“See me what?” she prompted, shaking with the effort of not crushing herself against him.
“Nothing. Just see you,” he said, feigning innocence very poorly.
She grinned and closed the gap between them, fingers trailing across his slick skin, pulse quickening. The scent of his sweat lured her closer; it wasn’t offensive, but salty and vaguely earthy and…so uniquely him, all the way through. She wrapped her arms about his broad shoulders and pulled him close, wanting to bury her senses in him completely.
He gasped, breathing quicker, trembled a little—but didn’t move. She kissed his collarbone and trailed her tongue to that little hollow in the base of his neck. He groaned and pulled her closer. Then stiffened.
“Sakura-chan,” his whisper sounded strangled. “Last time I dreamed…I don’t want to hurt you!”
He reached for her elbows, and tried to pull her away, but she exerted her chakra and bound him fast. “You wanted to kiss me then?” she purred.
“You wanted to touch me?”
He groaned. “Oh, yes”
She trailed circles with her tongue up toward his ear and he bent a little to accommodate her. Pounding blood in her own ears, her shaking body no longer her own—and when he felt that, felt her involuntary shudder, his body responded in kind.
So, this was sex. This need, this fire and longing and sweet, sweet uncontrollable pain that moved her body without permission, that reduced her to the heat of hunt and instinct. She wanted to drown in him, and she wanted it so badly it wasn’t even scary anymore.
And that was scary.
No. Focus. This is only a genjutsu. There was a reason to invade his dream like this. A purpose…
…what was it again…?
“I have an idea,” she whispered in his ear. “I think you only had a problem with the Kyuubi because you were all torn up about kissing me. Just kiss me. And stop worrying about it. I want you to kiss me, too.”
He pulled her even tighter then, eager lips seeking hers, hands grasping at her face, her hair, her hips, digging deep into the flesh of her backside as his tongue found hers. Fierce and wild and exuberant, and she lost herself in the heat for a moment, the spin of the genjutsu faltered and nearly careened out of control.
Dangerous, Kurenai had said, she couldn’t lose sight of the fact that this was just a…a dream.
And she had a purpose.
She pulled away from him gasping, hand cupping his cheek. “Now,” she said, “you need to stop fighting your jutsu, too.”
Heavily-lidded blue eyes blinked at her, pupils expanding under her gaze. Oh, she wanted to fall into his eyes.
Do it! No. She had a purpose.
“You have the power, Naruto, get out of your own way and use it.”
Those eyes snapped open now, every word being heard—which wasn’t easy with him. Well, now she knew the secret. “The Kyuubi only comes because you’re all torn up about something. Don’t get torn up. Know what you want and…”
He clamped his lips on hers; pulling her into a dizzying kiss, fire consuming them both. Longing for…more…
She broke away again, panting. “…and take it.” She finished.
Naruto gasped at her, hungry blue eyes filling her vision, but before he could kiss her again she exerted the genjutsu and put three feet of cold air between their overheated flesh. Loss panged in her gut and spasmed across his face.
Purpose, she reminded herself. “You want to kiss me again?”
He nodded, reaching out for her even as she stepped back again.
“Then complete that jutsu…”
She let the genjutsu fade and slipped out the front door, heart raging against her chest. It panged for a moment, as he murmured her name, but she made herself close the door. It took all her willpower, all her training.
She leaned against the wrong side of the door and panted—how was she ever going to bear that again without falling into it completely?
Oh, hell yeah! Let’s do that again…
But that wasn’t the hard part. Because no matter how good it had felt. No matter how real it had seemed, it was still just a fantasy. A phony dream that didn’t exist. And still, like a forbidden drug, she wanted more.