[SasuSaku] Sakura reflects. Post-Chuunin Exam spoilers.
Camp has been set up. Now it's a waiting game.
Of course, it's never a very long wait. After Naruto's had a couple of bowls of ramen in him, it would take nothing short of a miracle to keep him awake for more than a half hour or so. That's how it always happens. They eat, then Naruto falls asleep.
Sakura's thankful that he's a heavy sleeper. She doesn't want to be interrupted.
It's never hard to find, always resting on the very top of Naruto's things inside his pack. From the moment her fingers brush against the smooth metal, she can feel a lump forming in her throat.
It's painful, but fulfilling at the same time. She likes having something tangible, something to hold onto, because otherwise, she feels like it was all just a very vivid dream.
The first look is always the hardest. She stares at it somberly for a few moments, oblivious to the world around her. If ever she doubted herself or what had seemingly become her mission in life--if ever she even thought about doubting herself, it all disappears in those first few moments, the time she uses to remember. It's not just him she remembers, it's what it felt like to be part of a team. A real team. Even more than that, a family. Now that he's gone, it's that hole in her heart that keeps pushing her on.
Those are the moments she uses to think about the present. How unbalanced things feel without Sasuke around. It's not empty/...she still has Naruto and Kakashi-sensei, but it just isn't...right. Even when they're having fun, there's always that question in the air. /Wouldn't it be so much better if Sasuke was here?
That's when she moves to the future. To what she knows has to be done. Not only for her sake, but Naruto's, too. And, perhaps most of all, Sasuke's. She wonders if they'll succeed. Then she decides that they /must/. There is no other option. Just imagining have to look at Sasuke, once Orochimaru has taken his body...no. She doesn't like to think about that. Besides, it won't happen. She won't let it. Naruto won't let it. And she prays that Sasuke won't let it, either.
Her last move is to clench it with a grim determination, her fist squeezing tighter as the intensity of her resolve heightens.
She always wonders later if Naruto has noticed the large dents her fist has made in it.
A/N: For the record--yes, it's his forehead protector that she's holding.