title: time in between
summary: just another romantic gesture by the socially awkward in a world infested by titans.
warning(s): a terrible crossover; i'm sorry there really isn't a plot going on here i just really wanted to write this
note: soooo i have doomed myself by starting attack on titan and, you know, liking it. i absolutely adored squad levi (and, of course, rivetra) but then MY DREAMS WERE SMASHED JUST LIKE PETRA'S SPINE. right. ignore me. but enjoy the au!
disclaimer: i do not own naruto. or attack on titan.
Someone's knocking, Sakura realizes with a heavy sigh.
She weighs the pros and cons of answering while her eyes remain on her research. She supposes it might be someone important like the Commander, but she knows he and the rest of the Survey Corps are currently on an expedition (an expedition she wasn't allowed on because of a stupidly injured ankle, she thinks sourly). But it can also be a one of the new kids in the labs trying to relay a message about her comrades or new funding or something not nearly as important as her current work. Or maybe it's just Ino coming to gossip about the latest soldier boy she has wrapped around her finger.
Sakura sits back and nods to herself. Only Ino would be this persistent with their knocking.
With that thought in mind, she resumes looking at the frustratingly old slides of titan flesh.
The last time she was outside the walls, she begged Kakashi for the chance to try capturing a live specimen for study, but Kakashi was adamant that they focus the troops elsewhere. She almost managed to get one by herself by some grand stroke of luck, but that dream was sliced down (literally) by her former captain before he proceeded to lecture her on putting herself and other people in danger.
Sakura groans when the knocking continues. She might as well see what they want since it's not like she's about to come across some new piece of information any time soon. Moving away from her microscope, she rolls her chair over to the door and opens it.
There stands Sasuke, a frown to match her annoyed pout, looking hardly ruffled for a man who definitely just came back from the 56th expedition outside the wall.
But Sasuke simply has a way to him, Sakura supposes – one where he's capable of killing titans mercilessly and methodically, one where he manages to keep his shoulders straight despite coming home missing nearly a third of the soldiers that he left with, one where despite everything he's seen and done, he still manages to move forward.
He's early. She wasn't expecting him back for another week or so.
Instinctively, she salutes him. Nearly two years have passed since her reassignment and they're now technically equals since she too is a captain, but some habits are just hard to break.
"Stop that." He sounds annoyed, and she wonders if it's because of her unnecessary salute or because of the messy workspace he's not so subtly eyeing.
"There's not a single scratch on you," she observes wryly.
He shrugs. "How are you doing?"
"How am I doing?"
"Oh." She lifts her right foot and rolls it. She winces slightly, but she'll definitely be ready for the next expedition when it comes. "I'm fine." She wonders if she should ask how the mission went, but decides not to. "Did you just get back?"
The question comes out rather flippantly, but Sasuke doesn't flinch. "No more than usual," he responds coolly.
"At the hospital getting checked out. Juugo got a concussion."
A heavy silence hangs over the room. Sakura wishes she could just get back to her work, but Sasuke seems to be there with some sort of a purpose.
"Is there a particular reason you're here, Sasuke?" Alone time is perfectly acceptable and certainly desired, both they're both soldiers to the core and prefer their personal time to be in their personal spaces – as in not at headquarters.
"I brought back a present for you."
Sakura blinks. A present?
In the one year they spent as captain and subordinate sneaking around in darkened corridors and the two years they spent in separate squads at Kakashi's order after they decided to tell him the truth about their relationship, Sakura can count the number of presents he's given her presents on just one hand.
They never come on birthdays, never come on holidays or anniversaries of their first kiss or first date or first anything. No. The gifts always come around the anniversary of the day Sasuke told her to her face that she had been handpicked to join his squad and that she would report to him at dawn the next day.
There's the illegal book on geography he gave her. Her favourite part is the chapter on that huge expanse of water called the "ocean." There are the earrings he gave her after he came back from a trip to the capital, shortly after they became public and she was forced to leave his squad. They were studs of gold with little emeralds. Simple and tasteful and meant to match her eyes and be small enough that they wouldn't be deemed impractical. Then there's the time he gave her a new horse after her old one disappeared on an expedition gone sour. This was probably his grandest present, but she knew he had an uncle or cousin or someone who was terribly injured on an expedition years ago that now helped the Survey Corps by breeding the greatest steeds.
And that is, essentially, it. Not that Sakura's complaining, of course. All that matters to her is that Sasuke come back from every battle safe and sound.
Still, a gift. Now that she thinks about it, the anniversary of her joining his team is approaching.
She can't help but question him. "You brought me what?"
And then he smirks. "Presents, actually. Two of them."
He grabs her wrist and drags her along until they reach the doors leading to the terrace on the third floor. He spares her one last glance before bringing her closer to the edge so she can look down.
"What is it—oh, my god."
Sasuke cringes as Sakura's high-pitched squeal echoes through the courtyard. He rolls his eyes when she begins jumping up and down in excitement, and he can't quite help finding her attitude endearing. While civilians would've screamed and soiled themselves and soldiers would've released a mighty string of expletives, Sakura tends to react to titans with a surprising amount of glee.
She turns to him, her smile tense and her eyes wide because he brought back titans for her – live specimen.
She looks like she can't find the words to say, and that much becomes apparent when she leaps forward and hangs off his neck.
"You're the best!" she says when she eventually lets go.
Sasuke takes a step away from her and scowls. "Dammit, Sakura," he curses, adjusting his cravat. She's too busy marvelling at the two titans pinned to the grounds, one four-meter and one seven-meter. He looks smug. "I take it you like them?"
She nods eagerly. "How did you convince the Commander to let you bring them back?"
"He was against it at first."
"He's always against it, ugh."
"But my team managed to get these ones subdued without Kakashi noticing."
"I hope they weren't too much trouble," Sakura says, shooting a glance at her two new specimens.
He shrugs again. "My team was… agreeable. Suigetsu's always up for a challenge. Juugo follows my orders without fail. And Karin's only condition was that I let her join your squad for any experiments – provided we're at HQ, of course."
"She definitely can." Sakura recalls the way she and Karin used to bond over experiments back when she was part of Sasuke's squad. "You should join too," she suggests with a wink.
But Sasuke only cringes. "And watch you stupidly put yourself in harm's way because you don't know how to take precautions during experiments? I think I'll pass."
"You'll miss out on all the fun!" She leans against him and points to his little gifts to her. "Think of everything I can learn about them now, Sasuke."
"I already have," he murmurs. "Why else would I have brought them back for you?"
Sakura can't help but turn away, feeling the faith and trust and dare she think it, love, in his stare. "Thank you," she says softly, looking intently at the cravat around his neck. She reaches forward and plays with the loose edges. "This is the sweetest thing you've ever done for me." She stands on her toes and presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth.
He looks mildly offended that this is the sweetest thing he's apparently ever done, but simply rolls his eyes. "Don't be so annoying. This isn't just for you – this is for all of us," he points out while rubbing the spot that she kissed. "If there's anyone that can figure out something helpful about killing these damned monsters, it's you. And the faster you do that, the faster we can kill them all."
She nods. "And then we can see the ocean."
He blinks and, instinctively, glances around to make sure no one heard her speak of something from the outside world. "Yeah," he eventually says, "And then we can see the ocean."
Then she kisses him again, and it's soft and chaste and mostly just to show how happy she is not with just his present, but with the brighter future they're both thinking about. They stand there silently and peacefully until they hear someone approaching.
They turn around and when they see who's interrupted them, immediately salute. Kakashi waves his hand lazily and they let their arms fall.
Kakashi's single eye crinkles as he smiles at Sakura. "I hope you like your new gifts."
"I certainly do."
"Good. Then I hope you won't mind playing with them while I borrow Sasuke for the day?"
Both of them look mildly alarmed by Kakashi's request. What did he need so soon that he couldn't give Sasuke at least a day of rest? "We just got back," Sasuke points out, trying not to sound like a whining child.
"I know, I know." To his credit, Kakashi does sound mildly apologetic. "But I need your help with something."
Sakura has a soothing hand on Sasuke's back, but it doesn't seem to be enough to keep him calm enough to speak to Kakashi with at least some respect. "With what, old man?" Then again, Kakashi was fairly used to Sasuke's behaviour.
"It's time to start preparing the new recruits for the 57th expedition outside the wall."