The Barista

Summary: Barista: bəˈrēstə,bəˈrɪstə/ (n.) a person whose job involves preparing and serving different types of coffee. Sakura couldn't decide what she liked more, the coffee or her eccentric customers. AU; MultiSaku

Rating: T

Genre: Romance, Humor

A/N: Hello friends! I was doing so well; working on everything I said I would, but this plot bunny attacked me and I succumbed. So... The Barista is kind of unplanned and has no plot line (like many of my other stories, oops) but we'll see how this I have a good feeling about this one. So, I hope that you enjoy the chapter and the story. I don't own Naruto.

Revised: 2-26-17

Sakura loved coffee. With a passion. Some would call it an obsession, or something unhealthy like an addiction, but it was true. She loved coffee.

It probably had something to do with her parents, in all honesty. They never drank the liquid, and said always told her it was bad for you. As any mischievous child would do, Sakura got it in her head that when she got the chance, she would drink it. Her parents didn't let her drink coffee, but that didn't stop her growing passion for it.

The first time the pinkette ever tried coffee was back in high school. She knew instantly she was in love. It was like tasting the forbidden fruit from the garden of Eden after so long. It was so bitter and so sweet and she couldn't get enough of it.

It didn't take her long after that to know what she wanted to do with her life. Her parents always pushed her to be a doctor, and Sakura was going down that path until she realized she could make a living as a coffee shop owner.

Of course, her parents weren't happy with the decision, but because Sakura was Sakura, and she was as stubborn as a mule, she forged through with her idea.

Now twenty, and having gone through all the necessary classes for owning a business, Sakura's dream was finally within her reach. Standing in front of The Lounge off the corner of Tea Leaf Avenue and Sixth street, the pinkette couldn't have been more happy with herself.

The Lounge was Sakura's pride and joy. It was a tiny shoebox of a café, but she adored it regardless. The store and little suite above were crammed into a niche among much bigger buildings, giving it a hole in the wall kind of feel. And really, that's what it was. But Sakura was bursting at the seams with happiness, so she didn't care.

As she pulled out the key and unlocked the doors, she was greeted by the early morning sun glinting off the hardwood floors and the cheerful fairy lights strung around the shop.

She flicked on the switch, allowing the low hanging lights to fill the room with a soft, warm glow, and immediately got to work.

She watered all the hanging plants, tidied up the front, and began to prepare the shop for the day. A quiet peace fell on the café, as she baked the pastries and bread, and got the food in the oven and dusted off the library wall in the corner. Once she was satisfied with the prep work, she flipped the open sign and made her way behind the bar, feeling optimistic that the day would hold good fortune.

::The Barista::

Naruto's stomach growled. Loudly. In fact, he was sure it was loud enough that the people in Suna could hear his fearsome stomach. He tried to suppress the snicker that nearly escaped his lips at the thought of Gaara being startled awake due to the sound. He was on his way to his favorite restaurant, Ichiraku, when he had to take a long detour due to construction in one of Konoha's main streets and sidewalks. But that didn't matter. What mattered was he was lost. And he was craving ramen. And he needed it now. He was starving.

The whiskered blond thought of his dilemma, and what he could do. His oldest and closest friend, the Teme wouldn't be helpful, he would just insist that he tough it out and say something like, "Dobe. Eat somewhere else. You'll die of a heart attack at 26 before you become Hokage if you eat so much ramen," or something Sasuke-y like that.

Sasuke just didn't understand. Tomatoes were disgusting. Ramen was the food of the gods. Naruto nodded to himself. When he became Hokage he would instate that ramen be the national food, and that there be an Ichiraku stand on every block, and that was all people could eat every Wednesday. Yeah, that sounded like a good plan.

Thinking, he tried to remember all his friends he had made across all the schools and campuses of Konohagakure. He couldn't ask Kiba either, the mangy dog would tease him for getting lost. Shikamaru would be helpful only if someone lit a fire under his ass. He didn't really talk to Shino much, and Lee would only scream about the power of youth. His friends were pretty much useless in this situation.

His thoughts of friends and ramen drifted around his head as he walked down another unfamiliar street. It was strange. Naruto knew most of the city like the back of his hand; he was the epitome of street smart. But he hadn't been down this area very often; he never really had a reason to. It was a neighborhood of narrow street with lanterns and flower boxes hanging from windows and it was very pretty, but a bit misplaced. It was part of old Konoha, where the architecture was archaic, and the hustle and bustle of the big city seemed not to affect this sleepy, hazy part of town. The differences between where he was now and the business sector of the city were drastic. The rest of Konoha had become a steel and iron jungle, but these cobblestone streets were quaint and cute, untouched. But that was not truly the case, as when he glanced up, he could still see the evidence of towering buildings and newer parts of the metropolis.

Naruto could count on one hand the number of times he'd been down this area, which wasn't much. He liked this area a lot, and made sure to mentally vow to take Sasuke down here sometime. His raven-haired companion would like this place too, he noted when he saw a couple of ancient cherry trees dotting the sidewalks. Before he could analyze any longer, Naruto's stomach made itself known by growling. Again.

"I need fooood..." He whined out loud, clutching at his stomach with despair. And all of a sudden, it was like the gods heard his prayer. He looked across the street, and there it was.

The Lounge.

It's sign advertised great coffee and good food and that was all Naruto needed to know. He rushed across the street to the brown door, and pulled it open. It was a decision that would change his life forever, but years later Naruto would insist it was a great one.

A few years ago, Naruto was in high school. Gouken Academy to be exact. It was the best high school in all the city, and he was well acquainted with many of the students who went there during his high school career. He was still friends with those people, that is, except for one. Konohagakure was a big city, but it was hard to miss someone with pink hair. But for two years after graduating high school, Naruto lost track of his closest friend and crush. Yet, all of a sudden she was back. And she was standing behind the counter making God knows what, like she had never been gone in the first place.

And, boy, was she a sight for sore eyes. His hunger long gone, Naruto felt content just to stand there and look at her, regardless of the state of his stomach.

As if she could feel his eyes on her, she looked up. Green clashed with blue, and recognition flitted through her eyes.

"Naruto," she said. She put down whatever it was she was doing and maneuvered around the counter.

All Naruto could do was gape at her like a fish out of water. He could just imagine how stupid he looked, but he couldn't do anything else. He was frozen, rooted to the spot at the mere presence of her.

He couldn't decide whether to be sad that she didn't tell him she was back, angry that she didn't tell him she was leaving in the first place, or just so happy that she was home.

And then she smiled. God, she smiled. And with the quirk of her lips, all was forgiven.

He rushed forwards and wrapped his strong arms around her petite waist, and as she wound her arms around his neck it felt so right. This was home. Home was being in the arms of someone you loved. He inhaled in content, the comforting smell of coffee and cherry blossoms surrounding him that he associated with Sakura.

"I missed you so much," he whispered into her silky pink hair. "Everyone missed you. Even Sasuke."

She held him tighter and sighed. "I know. I'm sorry."

Naruto pulled away from her, eyebrows furrowed. "You could've told us you left."

Sakura smiled sheepishly, rubbing the back of her head in a very Naruto-like fashion that he often used. It brought a smile to his face.

"Well," she sighed. "It's hard to explain."

Naruto would admit he was dense sometimes. He knew he wasn't the best at school studies, and he wasn't always able to keep up with academic related conversations, but he was very people-smart. He could read the mood of the room better than half the people in it, even though he may not know the whole story. And right now, one of his closest friends was exuding all the signs of discomfort. She wasn't willing to tell him the whole story just yet, and he was fine with that. She would open up with time.

So, he did what he did best, and gave his 1,000 watt smile. "So you own this café, huh?"

And there was her smile again. That smile he would do anything just to see, just to have it directed at him.

Damn, he was whipped.

"I've been wanting this place for a while," Sakura motioned to the cramped but cozy café. And that was true. She had been talking about it for as long as he knew her, and he was happy that she achieved her dream. His cerulean blue eyes scanned the comfortable restaurant, taking in the hanging plants and the warm glow of the lights.

He noticed in the corner was a couch and a few ottomans, and above it was a loft with more seating. On the opposite wall was a floor to ceiling bookshelf and a ladder to fit. Squished between the tables and the bar was an open floor. He even spotted a baby grand piano in the opposite corner.

"It's nice, Sakura-chan." He nodded, as if affirming his own words. His countenance turned grave. "But does the menu have ramen?"

She threw her head back at the very predictable and well used words that came out of his mouth.

"No," the pinkette chuckled with mirth. "But it can." And with that, she broke from the embrace, and made her way behind the counter, to get a stool. She reached up on the chalkboard, and wrote, Naruto's Special Ramen, in orange chalk.

He grinned widely. It may not be Ichiraku, but it was special, for him. Looks like he found a new place to eat.

A/N: I'm so excited to see what people think of this. Readers, please leave feedback, and ideas of who you want to see come up! I will upload the next chapter soon.

Ciao, Anbu-chan