written by A. E. Stover
this version is not edited

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Saturday, 6 October 2012
9:14 AM

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“I don’t see any,” Naruto protested with a hint of a whine.

Sakura looked over at Naruto from where she stood and just sighed. “Most of them were either picked up already or dropped to the ground. But if you look around carefully, you can still find a few hanging near the bottom or deep inside.”

“Found ‘em,” Sasuke called out suddenly.

Sakura brightened up. “See?” she said, looking triumphant. “Just try harder, Naruto.” Sakura walked to where Sasuke was with a plastic bag in hand. After a thermos of hot coffee, Sakura seemed to have settled her nerves.

“Yeah, yeah…” No sooner had he spoken dismissively when Naruto suddenly eyed a round golden-yellow apple on the ground. He gingerly picked it up and looked it over. He straightened up with a satisfied grin, hitting the back of his head on a low hanging branch as he did. He scowled and rubbed the back of his head. He wiped off the dirt on the side of the apple and inspected it more carefully.

“Did you just pick that up from the ground?” Sakura asked him incredulously, watching him wipe the apple off on his pants leg. Flecks of dirt rubbed onto the fabric of his jeans but he didn’t seem to care.

“So?” Naruto countered. “It looks just fine.” He held up the apple to prove his statement. He brought it back to his face, catching the multiple, tiny black and brown dots on the side of the apple. He wrinkled his nose. “Well, except for this little part here.”

Sakura grimaced at the dark dots on the side of the apple, a clear sign that it had once been a meal for bugs.

Whistling a cheery tune, Naruto plucked his pocket knife from his belt and peeled away the skin. He cut away the bug-eaten areas and turned the apple over to cut out a piece from the untouched portion. He offered one to Sakura, who gave him a blank look.

“You really expect me to eat that?” she asked in disbelief.

“Hey, if a bug ate it then it must be good.” Naruto took the piece into his mouth. He relished the feel of the cold juices in his mouth as his teeth crunched into the white flesh. With an approving nod, he cut out another piece and walked over to where Sasuke was. Before the moody member of the group could protest, Naruto shoved it into his mouth. “Eat ― you need the extra calories anyway, you skinny bastard,” he said and marched away.

Sasuke gave Naruto a dark look, but chewed and swallowed it anyway much to Sakura’s chagrin. He picked up the half-filled plastic bag and followed their blond idiot. She stared at them and shook her head. “Boys,” she muttered at last, shoving her hands into the front pouch of her sweater again.

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