Title: Helping Hand
Pairing: SasuSaku
Summary: In which Sasuke tries (and fails) to make do without a left arm.
Disclaimer: Naruto, not mine since 1999.
Note I:
If you squint, this is a sequel to Bedbug.
Note II: If there's enough interest, I'll make a NaruHina version.
Note III: I don't want to hear one word about how this plot could have been solved by clones. Stop ruining my comedic fluff with your ninja logic.
Note IV: Rating upped for this one due to naked Sasu-cakes.

Pulling himself out of bed for the first time in days, Sasuke blinks blearily at his surroundings. Everything is an annoying shade of pastel. The walls are baby blue, the curtains are purple, and the carpet is yellow. Not the colors he normally chooses to surround himself with, but this is Sakura's room and-


Right. Sakura's room. Where he's been for the last eight days, sleeping off the effects of near-death and extensive soul-searching. He doesn't remember much of what happened after they returned to Konoha, only Sakura offering her bed, his grunt of acceptance, and then blacking out beneath pink sheets. There may have been later cuddling involved.

Speaking of Sakura, the scent of something delicious cooking wafts up the stairs and beneath his nostrils. He hasn't eaten in a week, and he can feel his stomach painfully contract from the hunger pangs. Unfortunately, the food isn't the only thing he can smell.

Sasuke sniffs himself and groans. Definitely time for a shower.

The bathroom is surprisingly devoid of pink. The tile is a sterile white with grey trim, and grey towels hang next to the shower. Sasuke steps out of his boxers (his half destroyed shirt and pants have long since been discarded) and tosses them into the laundry basket.

He turns his attention to the faucet, whose handle he is unfamiliar with. Instead of two handles marked red and blue for hot and cold, there is only an unmarked single handle. Turning it slightly produces a thin, hot sprinkle of water. Turning the handle all the way around causes him to be blasted with an icy spray.

Cursing, Sasuke spends the next five minutes trying to find a happy medium between a hurricane of certain hypothermia and a trickling river of lava. As it turns out, the sharingan does nothing to intimidate the handle into giving him the desired temperature. But at last he finds an acceptable setting and steps into the shower.

Looking around at his choices, Sasuke scowls at the floral scented body washes and shampoos. He can admit to himself that he likes the way Sakura smells, but he has no desire to smell like-he squints at the label-coconut orchid. But he's covered in at least two weeks' worth of grime, and the idea of being unclean is even more repulsive than smelling like a flower.

Gripping the body wash in his right hand, Sasuke goes to grab Sakura's loofa when he pulls up short.



He blew off his left arm in a fit of misguided killing rage. In hindsight, that now seems like a less-than-stellar decision. Sighing in frustration, he douses himself liberally with the bodywash and tosses the bottle aside. Gripping the loofa, he begins scrubbing harshly, but soon runs into another problem.

There are places he can't reach.

If he stretches and does a few gymnastics, he can reach his sides and the backs of his legs. But there is a large swatch of his back that remains unscrubbed, and he can feel the dirt and grime melding with his skin.

Leaning up against the wall, Sasuke places the loofa between his back and the wall. Moving up and down creates a pseudo-scrubbing action, and though it's not up to Sasuke's standard, it will have to do. Using the wall frees his hand to grab the shampoo bottle, which is almost empty.

Sasuke attempts to squirt it directly onto his scalp, but the bottle only makes wheezing noises as it spits out air. Scowling, he brings the bottle to eye-level. He gives the bottle a hard squeeze, and shampoo shoots out directly into his eyes.

Blinded, Sasuke lets loose a long string of particularly vulgar profanities. Bellowing with anger and pain, he fails and slips on the wet floor, landing flat on his back. He grasps at the wall to try and pick himself up, but without sight or balance he slips again, this time hitting his head.

The sound of rapid stomping up the stairs and a knock on the bathroom door announces Sakura's presence. "Sasuke-kun, are you okay in there? I heard a lot of banging."

"Fine," he bites out in agitation.

He's not angry with her, but his own handicap. Grappling with the shower curtain, he attempts to pull himself up again, only to slip again and crash back down to the shower floor.

"GOD DAMMIT." He's going to die on this shower floor, he just knows it.

"You don't sound okay, Sasuke-kun, I'm coming in there." The door opens and closes rapidly as Sakura enters, her hand clapped over her eyes. "What happened?"

Sasuke mumbles under his breath, too low for her to hear beneath the dull roar of the shower. Eyes still closed, Sakura pulls back the shower curtain and scowls. "What was that, I didn't hear you."

"I said I got shampoo in my eyes," he grumbles. His face flames red at his nudity in her presence. Quieter, he tells her, "And I can't reach my back."

Her frown softens as she remembers his lost arm and realizes the issues he's having. Unconsciously, she bites her lip. She wants to offer to help him, but he is proud and stubborn (and naked), and there's no way he will-

Her inner monologue is interrupted by the feeling of her loofa being pressed against her arm. Sasuke has managed to pull himself to a sitting position and coughs in embarrasment. "Do you think you could...?"

Flushing pink, Sakura manages a very squeaky "yes."

With his back turned to her, Sakura can finally opens her eyes, and she makes a vow to keep her eyes straightforward. No looking down. At least not below his hips. She sucks in what she hopes is an inaudible deep breath and lathers up the loofa.

As she scrubs Sasuke's muscular back, she can't help but notice the myriad of scars that decorate his body. Jagged pink lines criss-cross across his shoulders, and small pink pucker marks are the ghosts of where he's been impaled by enemy blades.

Sakura scowls and unconsciously scrubs harder. Even if she's glad to have him back now, that doesn't make him any less stupid. He's nearly gotten himself killed so many times, and he's lucky that he doesn't have one of these marks through his heart.

"Sakura." He winces. "That stings."

Flushing, Sakura drops the loofa. Apparently she'd been scrubbing hard enough to take the rust off of metal. His back is an angry shade of pink after her ministrations, but at least he's not dirty anymore. She's standing fully-clothed in the shower with him, so she steps aside to allow the water to wash away the soap.

Feeling Sakura's fingers massaging his foamy scalp, Sasuke wonders how long he can get away with not learning to do this for himself. It feels wonderful, and he practically purrs with satisfaction. He arches his back as she hits a particularly sweet spot, leaning into her touch.

"Sasuke-kun, what are you doing?"

Sasuke grimaces to himself. She wasn't supposed to see that. But after sleeping in the first bed he's been in and months and the delicious feeling of stretching his aching muscles, he can't help it.

He's not the same and neither is she, and maybe this thing between them should evolve too.

As the water teases the soap from his drowned spiked hair, Sasuke turns to face Sakura. His eyes, boring into hers, are intense without being angry. He leans his arm against the wall next to her head, and he takes a very male satisfaction in the way her eyes widen in surprise and her lips part as he moves closer.

Just as he takes a step forward to eradicate the distance between them, his foot slips on the wet shower floor and he topples forward, crashing into Sakura. Their foreheads knock together and they become a tangle of limbs as they hit the floor.

Groaning, Sasuke braces himself with his knees as he rubs his aching head. The sound of a similar feminine moan beneath him forces his eyes to snap open, and he finds Sakura staring at him with an equally stunned expression. Her blush darkens considerably as she glances down they simultaneously realize that he's naked on top of her.

"Um, Sasuke-kun, you're-"

Sasuke decides "fuck it", and kisses her.