"You're just going to let her?" Sasuke asked. Watching his expression, nothing gave away the worry he felt inside. It wasn't often he was worried - he was never worried - and even less often he was worried over Sakura. He'd tried to kill her - something he'd never live down, he was sure, as neither Sakura nor Naruto were ones to let bygones be bygones. Regardless, he knew now that his actions had been wrong and there wasn't a day that went by without his regretting them. But never once did he worry about her.
Perhaps it was the fact that they were on the same side now.
Maybe that was the reason he felt that all too familiar shiver of worry crawl up his spine. He was not one to protect his teammates. But it had always been different with Sakura. The anxiety at the thought of her fighting shouldn't be as familiar as it was - he hadn't felt it in a while - but it still crept up his back like a spider on a wall.
His expression gave nothing away; it never did. But his voice - his eyes - were different stories. He couldn't help the unease worming its way into his voice. He was usually so good at being cryptic.
Naruto offered him that wide, irritating smile. "Yeah!" he said happily. The blonde popped the bones in his fingers, stretching out and testing Sakura's work. His smile widened as he readied his fighting stance, getting ready to either attack or defend. He'd prefer to attack, but hey - you take what you get. "Sakura's a big girl."
Just what the hell was that supposed to mean?
The sound of breaking bones was deafening. It was a sharp, methodical snap coupled with a painful-sounding crack. Shock turned Sasuke's head upwards, only to see a fierce expression covered by girlish pink locks. The expression on her face could down men thirty times her size - and was. People on both sides shied away, and the ninja's cry of utter pain could have broken the sound barrier.
There was no glow of chakra around Sakura's fist, not where it made contact with the man's chest or where she landed on the ground, legs splayed out in a perfect stance. Apparently she was still recovering that to be able to use it. The only green on her was that of her flak jacket and the brightness of her eyes.
Eyes that were still trained on the man in front of her, withering on the ground in pain as he clutched his ribs. Eyes that were not on the man trying to attack her from behind.
A sound of irritation rolled through Sasuke's chest and out his mouth. Sure she'd learned how to break a few bones, but she still hadn't learned to cover her blind spot.
He didn't even think her weak - that was not a move made by a weak person. It was one made by a stupid, untrained ninja.
It was an instinct, one he couldn't help just as he couldn't help needing air. He was behind her in a second, readying himself to take the brunt of her attacker's move. He waited for the blow, jaw clenching in anger, a low growl rising from his chest in irritation. It was a smart move, he'd admit, picking off the weaker ones so that the strong had less support, but having gone after Sakura first was irritating. It was always her. Even in their genin days. That one trait of hers had not died yet, and may never.
The blow never came. There was a soft grunt, a huff of aggravation, and the sound of more bones breaking. A splatter of blood came splashed onto his white shirt, and Sasuke looked down to see that Sakura had broken her attacker's neck. He stared for a moment, then onyx eyes met emerald.
Her eyes were narrowed slightly, though her lips were curved up in a determined grin. Anger and glee, dancing on her expression. "Thanks, but I don't need your help," she stated. Her voice copied the determination in her face, and her head tilted to further show her happiness. It was nice to have him worried about her, yes, but she could save herself. She wasn't weak anymore. "I'm a big girl."
Sasuke grunted, nodding at her for a second before she walked away, on to the next attack. A scowl overcame his expression, even as he himself was attacked. She wasn't the girl he had known. In some ways, she had stayed the same. In others, it was obvious she had grown.
She was, indeed, a big girl.