Chapter 5: Shattering the Dream
Itachi’s eyes, blazing with sharingan, bored into him as ravens’ wings fluttered and thrummed across the air. Each flap echoed across his entire body. Endless sets of wings filled his vision; he opened his mouth to speak and the lead bird flew into his mouth. Feathers choked and pushed deeper, claws scraped and the foul bird climbed into his throat, then disappeared. He could breathe again, gasped for air like a drowning man.
“I’ve given you some of my power. I hope the day never comes when you have to use it.”
Naruto’s eyes popped open, chest pounding. Stupid repeating dream. That’s all. Just a dream. He blinked and let his room come into focus; shadows hung on everything. Middle of the night, so late it was almost morning.
Still, this dream happened a lot, along with that other one, the one with Sakura-chan. He threw off his covers and flopped onto his back. Sweat broke across his face and cooled. That was a different sort of dream entirely.
That one with her had been absent too long, and he wanted it back so badly it had started him daydreaming about how he wanted it to go. It only stole more sleep, and put more discomfort in his morning. His daydream imaginings while he’d been off healing his arm were never as good as the dreams when he was here in Konoha.
His imaginings didn’t…stand him at full attention or…end in heart-achingly beautiful kisses. His fantasies at the hot springs usually ended with him falling over something or Sakura punching him because his compliments came out all ass backwards.
Those daydreams were more exciting, in a way, because…well, anything could happen.
He touched his lips and wondered what it would be like to kiss her for real. How would it happen? Could it happen? If it could, what would he do? He imagined throwing her onto his own bed and…
Steadying his breathing, he listened to the night slip by and tried not to think about dreams; then he tried not to think about Sakura; the ticking alarm clock reminded him that night would soon be gone. Training when you’re already tired had to be the worst feeling in the world. And the training had only gotten harder and more exhausting, every day of it. Tomorrow..today…wouldn’t be any different.
He closed his eyes and tried hard to sleep. It didn’t work.
He rolled over and squinched his eyes up tight. The faucet dripped into the sink, each drop off time with the ticking clock. Tick-plink-tock. Plinktick. Tock-plink. Plop.
Swearing, he struggled out of bed and closed down the faucet, knocking over a clatter of dirty dishes and empty Styrofoam cups. He stepped over the foul puddle of moldy ramen broth on the floor, muttering under his breath and stumbled back to bed.
His head had just hit the pillow when a flurry of cherry blossoms danced across his vision. “Sakura-chan,” he breathed, before the blossoms could even part.
A familiar dream tonight, but it only happened in Konoha. Excitement spasmed across his guts and lit a familiar, yearning fire. Finally!
He had missed the feel of her dream lips on his. Missed losing himself in hooded green eyes. Missed the…missed her chakra signature…something his daydreams could never duplicate, no matter how he tried.
Blinking, he focused on the dreamscape around him. The blue sky, dotted with swirling clouds, told of a sunny day that wouldn’t get too hot. The scent of the cherry blossoms wafted from the hill behind him, dotted with trees covered in bursting pink petals like perfect fireworks.
She had spread a blanket under the oldest tree, and unpacked a basket of treats. His stomach growled. Oh, hurry, hurry, hurry! This dream was one of his favorites.
“Come and sit down, Naruto.” Her voice poured over his ears–sweet, sweet honey.
Dressed traditionally, he put a hand on his katana and stepped through the lush turf. He laid down near her, weight on his hip.
Her lips quirked, but she didn’t meet his eyes.
Sakura, in a bright red kimono and black obi sat on her knees, her hair blowing gently across her face, eyes shrouded with heavy lids and her mouth—cherry red–pulled together just enough to entice kisses.
Dreamy green eyes smiled as she leaned over to hand him a perfect anpan; he salivated and took a bite. The kind with the pickled cherry blossoms, those were his favorite. His eyes rolled back in his head as the soft fluffy bread gave way to sweet, smooth bean paste that finished with the hint of salt from the petals.
He looked up at her, mouth still full and offered her a bite. She shook her head and smiled that sweet smile that tugged at him deep.
“I missed you,” she said.
His bite caught sideways in his throat and he coughed. He noticed how each strand of her hair had been perfectly placed to blow across her cheek, not one hair blew across her eye or fell into her mouth. Perfect. Beautiful, but predictable. When what he really liked about her was…what she probably thought were her flaws.
The cherry blossoms stood out in sharp contrast to the branches above her head. Each petal clearly distinct from every other one, and yet—too detailed. Like an artist had tried too hard to paint the scene. He didn’t dream like that, in detailed color; his dreams were never so real. So…perfect.
Her eyes still focused on him; her forehead wrinkled, she looked—a little worried.
“Oh, I missed you, too,” he said. It was an earnest enough feeling, missing Sakura had kept him up at night more times than he cared to count in the past weeks, but he was distracted by the strangeness of the dream and it didn’t come out right.
Sure, they’d just come back from that marathon mission together, that had them chasing Sasuke all over hell and back…but…that wasn’t the same kind of being together. That wasn’t…this. Nothing was like this.
The blades of grass stood out to his eye, and he never noticed blades of grass. Too many individual spires, when he might just notice a few. The smell, also, he noticed the grass and the smell of damp earth and lawn clippings filled his nose. That wasn’t how his brain worked at all…it was too much like a picture world. Something about it wasn’t right.
Something about it made him feel a little empty.
He looked back at Sakura for more clues, her lips turned down and a tear hovered on the edge of an eyelid. He could see himself reflected in its crystaline depths. Where are the flaws?
But he didn’t say it. Her tears burned like her kisses. “What’s wrong?”
She blinked and shrugged, the tears suddenly gone, but her eyes still looked sad. “You’re just being polite. It’s okay if you didn’t miss me.”
“What? Didn’t miss you?” He sprang up and put himself on his knees in front of her in one swift movement–didn’t even catch his stupid katana on anything. That just wasn’t right.
Knee cap to knee cap, he grabbed her shoulders and gave them a little squeeze. “I don’t want to think about how much I did.”
Her eyes narrowed at him, full of mockery. “You missed the kissing.”
“Well, yeah…but that wasn’t all.” He could feel his lips peeling back away from his teeth, his grin taking over his face, because he knew this feeling was probably the most honest thing since the petals had started to fall. “I missed you, Sakura.”
Her arms wrapped around him, then, and the force of her threatened to knock him into the grass. His hands slipped across the silk of her kimono, finding her curves and taut waist under the layers of fabric. The scent of cherry blossom welled up in his nose and made his head spin. Raging fire boiled up in his guts, tightened his balls until he thought they’d crack right open. He groaned, the straining pull urging him to kiss her, to pull open the v of her kimono and gawk at her rounded…
But it isn’t real, he heard his own self say, deep in his head. It isn’t real.
“Kiss me,” she gasped, tearing at his hair, trying to pull his lips closer.
He shook his head, and pulled away. “I’ll kiss you Sakura.” Gasping for air, he trapped her groping hand in his. “I’ll kiss you as much as you want. But not like this. If you want my kisses, you have to kiss me for real.”
And the dream drifted away in a flutter of petals; shattered genjutsu.
Naruto gasped, collecting his thoughts, and dizzy from the heat of her. What would I do if the dream was real?
He could still feel her, her chakra very close, and struggling for balance and control.
He jumped over his bed, threw open the door and found her, panting. Clutching her chest, leaning so hard against the wall he feared she was about to faint.
Swiftly, before she could move or he could have second thoughts, he gathered her against his chest and pulled her in, collapsing on top of her in the doorway as they crashed to the ground off balance. Not quite on target. So much for trying for the bed. He grinned at her, wondering how she would react to this, this plan he had daydreamed up and couldn’t imagine an ending for. And he couldn’t because she was different every time. Volatile. Exciting. She was herself.
Green eyes slowly focused on him, moved from confusion to worry. Firm breasts pushed against his chest, and her warm thigh made contact with a very intimately throbbing place. He bit back on a groan, and breathed in the smell of her. Not perfect this time, far more complex than cherry blossoms, the strange unfathomable mixture of antiseptic and perfume and so many other things made his pulse catch. She was real.
He felt the fire catch, knew the fox worked his way out; driving it back put a spasm of pain across his gut, fire burning in his eyes. He rolled off her, eyes clenched tight.
“Naruto?” Her trembling hands ran across his forehead, clutched his t-shirt and pulled the fabric across his chest.
He gasped; tried again. And won. His eyes popped open; he grinned and giggled. He was real, too. Imperfect and awkward. “Sakura-chan.”
Relief dropped the tension from her shoulders and her forehead sunk to his chest. “You must hate me,” she muttered. “Knowing what I did.”
He laughed, and pulled her head up to gaze into her troubled eyes, one hand on either side of her face. “I told you, Sakura, you can kiss me as much as you want, but you have to kiss me with your lips, not genjutsu.”
Should he? In his daydreams he would have–kissed her full on the lips, stripped off her clothes, and…but this wasn’t a daydream. This was really her, and he couldn’t take it back, and she might really punch him or any other number of things. End up hating him.
But that risk was why he loved her.
Before he could lose his nerve, before she could stammer out an excuse or find a reason to slip away, he crushed her lips into his, tongue swirling around hers.
Oh, damn! It was real, and that meant it wasn’t quite so perfect.
They broke apart, panting and wiping spit from their lips.
“Sorry,” he whispered. “I’m not so good at this…in real life.”
“Maybe not,” she sighed, eyes soft. “I’m not either…but…it’s real.”
“Yeah,” he answered, completely floored that her answer held so much possibility and hope–that it hadn’t ended in him bleeding into the darkness alone.
He looked at her, half afraid the blow he had expected was going to come now. He pursed his lips, searching her eyes, which gave no hint at all. A tremble of anticipation sparked his adrenaline. Oh, yes. This was real. “Yeah?”
“Give it another go?”
He gulped, and tried to nod, but almost before he could move she pressed her lips into his, both of them already figuring it out–the difference between self-gratification and teamwork. She broke away, leaving him gasping. The fire, this heat moved gently, unlike the fevered explosiveness of the genjutsu. Imperfect. Volatile. And unlike that perfect genjutsu blaze, it meant giving as well as taking.
“Oh, hell yeah!” She growled, grabbed him around the shoulders and hefted them onto the bed with a thump, knocking the wind out of both of them. He pushed her hair from her eyes, the silky strands sticking to his sweaty palms, and let her kiss him again.
A roiling spasm of hunger burst across his gut and grumbled in his ears. She broke off the kiss and burst out laughing. Heat rose in his face.
“Are you hungry?”
He tried to lie, but what good would that do? He nodded. “Starving.”
She pulled herself off the bed and offered him a hand. “Come on then. Ichiraku’s closed, but I think we can find you something before I have to get back to Tsunade’s office.”
He grinned and took her hand, tears pricking through what must have been the goofiest grin. Unpredictable, but perfect.