Sakura touched the wooden wall of the empty living room as she looked out the window. There was a touch of him in these walls. She could almost feel traces of his chakra weaved into the wooden panels of the house he had created for the team. She closed her eyes, willing herself to feel whatever she could of him from his creation.

It was pathetic. She felt as if she reverted back to her twelve-year old self again. Her heart would beat faster whenever she saw him. Whenever he spoke, all her attention would be drawn upon him. She would memorize every word he said as if they were her lifeline.

He was always nice to her. Unlike Sasuke, he had never said a single harsh word towards her, nor had he ever dismissed her whenever she talked to him. She had lost count of the number of times he had jumped to save her. He never complained, even when he nearly passed out after trying to contain Naruto's kyuubi chakra for so long. He wasn't that bad looking, either. Naruto thought their Captain had scary eyes, but Sakura loved them. It's what made him so uniquely Yamato-taichou.

"Sakura?" Yamato's voice broke her from her train of thoughts.

Sakura turned and saw her Captain standing by the stairs. Her heart suddenly beat faster. Her eyes brightened considerably the moment she saw him.

"Y-Yamato-taichou!" Sakura tried to keep her voice steady as she spoke.

"I thought you'd be asleep by now," Yamato said as he approached her and joined her by the window.

"I couldn't sleep." Sakura hugged herself as if to ward off the cold. The night air was cool, but not freezing.

"Are you cold? Do you want me to make a fireplace?" Yamato looked at her with concern.

"No, I'll be alright." Sakura shook her head and smiled. He was always so kind and considerate. That's what she loved about him.

"If you're sure…" Yamato didn't look convinced.

"I'll be fine, really." Sakura replied. She turned to face him. "Shouldn't you be asleep?"

"Maybe in a little while," he replied with half a shrug.

Sakura nodded. They both turned to look out the window to watch the twinkling stars in the night sky. For awhile, neither spoke. She didn't mind, though. She reveled in these rare moments alone with him, even when there were no words exchanged between them. She stole a glance in his direction. He looked as if he was lost in thought.

Then, he turned his head towards her and caught her gaze. Sakura's heart leapt in surprise. She blushed and looked away.

"Sakura," Yamato whispered.

"Y-yes?" Sakura's heart was beating a mile a minute. Her cheeks felt very warm all of the sudden.

He looked into her eyes and said, "I want you to promise me something."

"Hn?" Sakura looked up, then blushed again when she caught his gaze. There was something about the way he looked at her that made her heart beat faster. His gaze was soft, yet intense at the same time, as if there was a hidden meaning behind them that she could not decipher.

"If anything were to happen to me, I want you to run. I want you to promise me that you'll make it back to Konoha alive."

"But…" Sakura wanted to protest.

"Promise me, Sakura." He looked at her with eyes that were almost pleading.

"Yamato-taichou, I… how can you expect me to just run if you're… you're…" Sakura felt her throat tightened. She couldn't even say the word. She didn't want to imagine that he might die tomorrow. And yet, she knew the possibility was always there, especially considering the enemies they were currently hunting down. And yet, part of her stubbornly hoped that they would all come out of this alive.

He stepped closer to her and laid a gentle hand on her cheek. Sakura's heart skipped a beat at his touch.

"Sakura, please… promise me?" His gaze was so intense, as if he was pleading with her with his very life.

Sakura's breath caught in her throat as she looked into his eyes. "Why?"

A flicker of emotion flashed in his eyes as he met her gaze.

"I need to know that my sacrifice would not be in vain. If my death could buy you enough time to run, then it would be worth it," he said with his voice wavering slightly.

"I'm not leaving you to die!" Sakura cried.

"Sakura…" he protested.

"No, Yamato-taichou. I'm not leaving you!" Sakura threw her arms around him. She'd forgotten how inappropriate this would be, nor did she particularly care at the moment. She needed him to understand. She couldn't leave him, no matter how much he might want her to.

"S-sakura…" He stuttered. Startled at her sudden gesture, he awkwardly placed his hands on her hips.

"I've already lost Sasuke when he left the village years ago. And now… now you're telling me to leave you to die. I can't do that, Yamato-taichou. I'm not going to lose you, too. I love you too much to—" Sakura froze when she realized what she'd just said. She let go of him and turned away from him. Her cheeks were burning with embarrassment.

For awhile, she heard no replies from him. He was completely silent. She didn't dare turn to look at him, for fear of seeing appalled or shocked looks in his eyes.

When he still didn't speak, Sakura's heart broke. She bowed her head low and refused to face him.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said it. I… I understand if you don't feel the same way. I… I won't let my feelings get in the way. I promise. I'll… I'll see you in the morning," she said without looking. Not wanting to hear his rejection, she ran up the stairs.

"Wait, Sakura!" Yamato called out.

But Sakura continued to run until she reached the room she had claimed as hers and closed the door behind her.


Sakura didn't want to face him in the morning. Unfortunately, Yamato was their team's Captain. Not only that, they were currently in the middle of a mission together. Avoidance would be impossible. So, she decided to wait until Naruto and Sai were awake.

She didn't have to wait long.

One could always tell when Naruto was awake by the amount of noise he made. There were no such things as quiet mornings when Naruto was around. Add Sai into the mix and the possibility of having a quarrel-free morning would immediately go down the drain. The minute she heard Naruto shout profanities at Sai, she knew it was safe to come out of the room.

The three men were sitting on the floor, eating ramen and onigiri when she came to join them. She ignored Naruto and Sai's arguments and sat down between the two. She could feel Yamato's gaze upon her as she reached for an onigiri.

Neither she nor Yamato spoke. And yet, throughout breakfast, she kept feeling his gaze upon her. Not once did she ever dared to look up.

When breakfast was over, Yamato re-hashed his plans to the team. He reminded each of them of their instructions.

"Naruto, wait for Sai's signal before sending out your kage-bunshin. Don't rush out too early or we'll miss our window," Yamato reminded him.

"Got it!" Naruto nodded.

"And Sakura," Yamato turned to face her.

Sakura froze. She had no choice but to look up.

Their eyes met.

Sakura's heart skipped a beat. She felt her face heat up. She swallowed and wished she could look away, but she knew she couldn't. Not without arousing Naruto and Sai's suspicions.

For a brief moment, neither spoke. It was as if he wanted to say something else. Then, he blinked and said, "Wait for an opening, then make your move. Their walls are made of thick, volcanic rock, but you should be able to punch through them."

"H-hai!" Sakura nodded, then hastily looked down.

Yamato stared at her for a brief second, then looked away. "Alright, let's move out!"

"Yes!" Naruto said as he got up, seemingly oblivious to the tension between Yamato and Sakura as the team got ready to depart.


That night, Sakura sat on her bed while looking out the window from her bedroom on the second floor. The battle had been a difficult one. The team barely made it out alive. The fortress that had become their battlefield was completely obliterated thanks to Naruto's Rasen-Shuriken and Sakura's chakra-induced punches. Two of their targets died in the attack while their leader disappeared again to who-knows-where. There was no way to pursue him at the moment, so the team decided to head back to Konoha and report to the Hokage.

They would rest for now. Tomorrow, however, they would set out along with Kakashi-sensei to find the whereabouts of the enemy leader.

Sakura sighed. It had been a long day. She was tired physically and emotionally. She turned away from the window and lied down. She was about to drift off to sleep when she heard a tap on the window. Frowning, she got up, then froze when she saw Yamato crouching on the roof just outside her window.

"Y-Yamato-taichou…" Sakura whispered in surprise. She got up and walked towards the window. She slid it open, then stepped back and stared at him with a stunned silence.

"May I come in?" He asked, his gaze never leaving hers.

Too speechless to reply, Sakura nodded wordlessly. Her gaze followed his movements as he hopped in and stood in front of her.

"W-what are you doing here?" She finally asked.

"You ran away before I could give you my reply." Yamato took a step closer to her and looked deep into her eyes.

"I… I…." Sakura's face heated up. She looked away in embarrassment.

"Sakura…" He lifted her chin so that their eyes met.

Her heart began to beat rapidly.

"Do you know why I begged you to make that promise?" He asked.

Sakura blinked. She didn't expect that question at all.

"I… I don't know." She lied. Truth be told, her heart couldn't help but feel a flicker of hope when he first said it. It was as if her being alive meant a great deal more to him than he let on. As if she was important to him. That hope, however, had been crushed when he replied to her unintentional declaration of love with his silence.

"Don't you?" He caressed her cheek with his thumb.

Sakura's heart skipped a beat at his touch.

"I never asked that of Naruto or Sai. Only you," he said, his gaze never leaving hers.

"W-why only me?" Sakura's heart was beating a mile a minute. Was he saying what she hoped he was saying?

"I needed to know that you'll be safe. I won't be able to live with myself if you die." He leaned his head towards hers.

"Y-Yamato-taichou…" Sakura whispered.


"What?" She frowned.

"That's my real name. Yamato is just the ANBU code-name given to me when I was assigned to your team," he said as he inched his head closer to her until their lips were but a breath apart.

"Tenzou…" She whispered. The name felt foreign to her lips. And yet, it seemed to fit him somehow.

Their lips met. Sakura's heart skipped a beat when she felt his soft lips brushing against hers.

"I love you too, Sakura," he whispered.

Sakura's heart leapt. She smiled, then threw her arms around him and pressed her lips against his. He placed his arms around her waist and drew her close as he leaned into the kiss. She could smell his woodsy scent as he nibbled on her bottom lip. A soft moan escaped her lips.

"No more running away?" He asked as he leaned his forehead against hers.

"I think, after today, you'll have a hard time getting rid of me," Sakura said with a smile.

"Good." He kissed her softly. "Because you'll have a hard time getting rid of me, too."

Sakura smiled and leaned against his chest. Yes, there will be no more running away for either of them. Not if she could help it.

A/N: I purposely didn't identify the enemy because I wanted to set this in the future, when Sakura's at least 18 years old or more. There's no guarantee that the same enemies they're facing right now would still survive 2-3 years from now, so... yeah.