A/N: Oh man, guys, I had this written so long ago. Like, February long ago. And then I was writing my thesis to graduate and I just completely forgot to post. So, super belatedly...ta-da?

Deer Intuition


The blond future Hokage turns at the familiar call and opens his arms to the incoming hug from his favorite teammate. The rosette kunoichi embraces him tightly for a second, until his ribs begin to creak in protest, and then she steps back, looking him over for a brief moment. He shifts and chuckles as she raises an eyebrow, evidently not convinced of what she's finding.

"I'm not seeing any injuries."

"I didn't get injured this time!"

"Kyuubi isn't just speeding things up so you can avoid hospital time?"

Naruto's grin falters a little at that, as the Fox laughs in his head at how well the medic knows his idiot jinchuuriki.

"Does it matter?" he asks hesitantly.

Sakura's eyes narrow momentarily, and then she huffs and shrugs. "'Suppose not. Were you about to give Sensei your mission report? Where's the rest of your team?"

"Ah, Sai and Tenten popped over to the hospital for a quick patch up. Shikamaru disappeared the moment we got back into the village," the blond reports, before frowning and folding his arms across his chest. "It was weird though, I could have sworn he was limping a little and covering his side. Those nuke-nin outside Iwa were annoyingly tough this time, Kurotsuchi and Atsuko-san actually came out to help us finish them off...Sakura-chan?"

The rosette was already storming off, away from the Hokage Tower and the hospital, clearly on a self-assigned mission. Naruto watches after her for a moment, and then chuckles, folding his arms above and behind his head and as he makes his way into the Tower to file his report with Kakashi. Maybe he can harass his former sensei into giving him the hat today, too.

Shikamaru grunts a little as he lies back on the cushioned floor of the Nara forest, the herd of deer his family cares for surrounding him, whether to offer comfort or camouflage him, he's not sure. The buck sticks close to his side, and Shikamaru decides it's some sort of protective instinct. Ah well, he won't protest the company.

"Nara no baka!" a woman's voice shouts, and he sits upright immediately in some sort of sick preservation instinct, only to groan and grind his teeth as his body aches sharply in protest. Damn those Iwa nuke-nin; they'd seemed to target him right from the start.

Haruno Sakura is storming toward him, eyes flashing underneath the bold violet Byakugou seal she inherited from Tsunade less than a year ago. Her cheeks are colored, probably from annoyance, and he gulps as he realizes he's the only Nara in the area who could be drawing her wrath. His day just became so much more of a drag.

"Idiot. When you're hurt on a mission, you come straight to the hospital and get treated! I've gotten used to hunting down Kakashi-sensei over the years, it won't be much of a stretch to start doing the same to you. I'll make sure you're life's a living hell if you keep this up."

He's more than slightly confounded to find her bizarrely attractive in that moment.

Nara Yoshino glances out the window in time to see the Godaime Hokage's apprentice and Ino-chan's friend, Haruno Sakura, come striding out of the Nara forest dragging her wincing, lazy son behind her. Shikamaru seems to be talking to her, no doubt trying to escape her, but the pretty girl keeps a firm grip and pulls him out of the compound and toward the village center, most likely to the hospital.

The Nara matriarch smiles and runs a hand over the fur collar of her late husband's jacket, left hanging over his favorite chair near the window in what has become a sort of memorial in their home.

"Shikaku, you should see him now. That Nara curse you talked about seems to be in full effect," she says, laughing at the memories of her husband's mutterings. Their son will be fine, soon enough. He was growing up.

It isn't until hours later, after Sakura has fully healed him and he's endured a full round of teasing from Ino about the whole event, that he realizes Sakura should have never made it so far into the Nara forest without the deer attacking her. She had walked deep into the woods, right up to him and the herd, and had kidnapped him from within the herd itself. Just how in the hell had she done that?

(Only years later would he come across accounts of the deer allowing a select few non-Nara into the woods if they were special enough to a clan member. The herd was apparently as full of geniuses as the clan was. And apparently they were smarter than he had been at eighteen.)

A/N: There it is. So worth the extra long wait, right? (psh. I know).

That's all I got for the time being, but I have several multi-chapter fics in the works, largely including time travel and/or Sakura and/or fem!Naru, and I'll try to find some time and inspiration to spit out another chapter for this. Ja ne!