CHAPTER CORRECTED THANKS TO SILKENDANSER
I do not own NARUTO (or the story would have ended differently!)
This story will be a slow publication (I didn't write the chapters in advance this time), I have not much time as I wished for it and my motivation is vanishing faster than a shooting star. So please, if you're interested by this story, review or else I will glady do something else than write for nothing.
All over again
Post War. Naru/Saku
After the Fourth Great Shinobi War, Sasuke departed for his trip of repentance while in the eyes of all Naruto became hero of Konoha, Savior of the ninja world. It was officially announced that the blond was the Fourth Hokage's legacy, resulting in Naruto inheriting of all of his parent's belongings, property, and the house that had been sealed away since his birth.
Time continued to pass in Konoha with missions and daily life. Naruto studied hard to become a Jounin, his first step on the path to becoming Hokage; meanwhile, Sakura was promoted to head-medic in the hospital.
Naruto had grown up well, time definitely having been an ally to him. His final spurt of growth had been accompanied with his body filling up nicely with lithe and sculpted muscles. His face morphed—abandoning his chubby cheeks of childhood to a more refined face with a very masculine jawline accentuated by his new haircut.
He had let Sakura cut his hair on a whim after she had tried one day to help him brush his mop of blond locks, and complained that she couldn't even pass a brush through the thick mane, let alone tame it. A few days later, Naruto inherited a new nickname from his new Shihou, Tsunade Baa-chan. The busty woman humorously decided to call him "Honey" as girls began to flock around him like bees to honey. However, no matter how many girls declared their love to the village's hero, Naruto's heart was unmovable. The blond ninja was—and forever would be—in love with Sakura. A love he kept in total secrecy, hidden deep in his heart.
Naruto had known that he may have won against Sasuke in their final battle, but he lost her to the dark-haired ninja without a fight, her happiness being more important than his own desire. Since then, the tailed-beast's master decided to love her in silence. Sakura was now his eternal best friend, their closeness growing more with each passing year, and Naruto was happy with it—or, at least, he thought he was.
Four years had passed after the war, without any news of Sasuke. Then, one day, the man just came back.
Being the former rogue ninja he was, Sasuke lost all rights to be officially called a ninja a long time ago. His stay in the village caused an uproar within the council members. However, as future Hokage, the blond pleaded the case of his friend and it was granted. Sasuke was allowed to have his former ninja registration number back to go on missions again, recognized, as he was, as a powerful asset to add to Konoha's military force. But, it was on one condition. Sasuke would be under Naruto's supervision, and they would have to live together. And that was how the two of them became housemates.
It had been a couple of months since Sasuke came back to Konoha, and Team Seven had adjusted to its fourth member. The relationship between the members of his former team were always very 'entertaining' for the Sixth Hokage, as there was never a day without one of them bickering with one another.
Kakashi had tried every possible formation depending of each one's availabilities: Naruto-Sakura-Sai, Naruto-Sasuke-Sai, Naruto-Sakura-Sasuke. But whatever three-man team he came up with, there was always something: the strange friendship/love between Naruto and Sakura that was making their relationship look like some sort of masochistic romance, the eternal rivalry/brotherhood relationship between Naruto and Sasuke that led them to behave like school kids fighting. And, if those dynamics weren't enough, there was the jealousy between Sasuke and Sai competing for Naruto's friendship. The worst was when the silver-haired Hokage had to send all four of them together on a mission… it was really a pain in the ass.
Chap 1: One step forward
Sasuke could be called emotionless, composed, and discreet in just about every aspect of his life, except for one matter: his actual housemate. The former rogue ninja had dealt calmly with his exuberant team Taka for years, and he had thought that living with Naruto, the man he could call his brother, wouldn't be that difficult. But he was wrong! The blond ninja always did some little thing that was able to push his patience close to the edge. It wasn't that he didn't like the blond anymore. Far from it. Living with Naruto was so different from living alone in the Uchiha compound; it was… warm. The house was always a nice and a welcoming sight to him, and it would be the perfect living arrangement, if it weren't for the fact that they were like a cat and dog, opposite in nearly everything.
That was how this morning, again, they were at each other's throat.
Sakura opened the door to Naruto's house and found them on the floor. Sasuke was strangling Naruto while the blond was crunching the former rogue ninja's face with his foot, and both were still clad in their pajamas. She sighed at the scene, shaking her head with amusement and exasperation. One second the two men were the best of friends ever, and the next they stopped behaving like normal young adults and reverted back to their twelve-year-old selves. The pinkette walked over to Naruto and grabbed his ear to make him stop.
"When do you plan on growing up?" she berated the blond, making him stand up.
"Aaeeii! Sakura-chan! Why am I always the only one to get scolded? Sasuke's the one who started it!" Naruto whined.
Sakura gave him a reproachful glare. "Sasuke is Sasuke! Leave him alone and he'll be as quiet as a tomb! You're the next Hokage! You need to learn to behave according to your status!" The pinkette lectured him, waving her finger in front of his nose in a very teacher-like manner. The sight was funny, to have this tall and strong blond man pouting like a child, getting thoroughly scolded by a delicate, petite woman a foot shorter than he.
Naruto bit his lips guiltily. He knew he was wrong. He didn't even remember what the subject of today's argument was. Since Sasuke's return, he couldn't get over his jealousy toward the black-haired ninja. It stirred his guts up over almost everything Sasuke did, prompting him to search for any opportunity to fight—even over petty things. It wasn't his fault, though! Even if he had decided to give up on Sakura to let her be happy, it wasn't like his heart accepted his choice.
Sasuke was like a brother to him, and he loved living with the dark-haired man so much. Life was much more interesting with his old buddy back. They would come home together, eat together, train together. It was fun; he never felt lonely anymore. He didn't have to suffer through anymore nights when everybody went back home and left him all alone in his big house. Now, every day when he looked at Sasuke's face first thing in the morning, a bubble of happiness would grow in his chest. However, the next second Naruto would remember that his 'brother' was also Sakura's love interest and the bubble would burst, changing into an urge to punch the man. That was how life was currently going for them.
Sasuke glanced at the couple. A disturbing feeling lingered in the back of his mind. Sakura had openly declared her love to him so many times when they were kids that he could not count them. She had reiterated it at the end of the war and had more subtly suggested it before he left for his repentance journey. Four years later, the situation had changed. The pinkette was no longer his little fangirl and he liked her quite a bit more for that.
But, that wasn't the subject of his troubling emotion; what truly annoyed him was the proximity that the girl shared with Naruto. The worst part of this aggravation was that he wasn't jealous of the blond for having attracted her interest, instead it was a mix between a desire to monopolize the blond and total frustration at their infuriating blindness. Those two were circling around each other, with Naruto trying his best to hide his obvious love for her, and her being in the last stage of utmost denial. They were both annoying.
Sasuke sat back at his place to continue his breakfast. With those two, the best course of action was to ignore them. He began to dig in to his rice, letting his 'brother' continue to get scolded. He could have interfered, but the Uchiha preferred to enjoy his peace for as long as possible.
Soon enough his teammates joined him at the table. The dark-haired man discreetly looked at her as she sat at her usual spot. Sakura came on a regular basis, so there was nothing new in her showing up for breakfast and scolding Naruto. Since his first day living with Naruto, he discovered that the pinkette had her own key and that she was clearly nearly living with them. When Sasuke had accepted the deal to stay with Naruto, he never had imagined that she would be part of their family, too. It made him feel a little envious of their bond, of their complicity. Sasuke never had been one who liked to share the people precious to him. If he could, he would keep Naruto just for himself.
Naruto was happily chatting with the pinkette, telling her about some of his gardening activity, some new flower he added to something the blond called her medicinal garden. Sasuke listened distractedly to Naruto's explanation. He wasn't jealous of it; after all, the other day Naruto told him something similar about tomato plants that he was nurturing for him. So, there was nothing special in it, Naruto just loved gardening.
The girl smiled at Naruto, ruffling his hair gently and thanking him for this new flower, and the blond's face lit up in a way only she was able to make happen. Sasuke observed them from the corner of his eyes; she had to be blind if she didn't realize Naruto's feelings by now. The silent Uchiha glanced at her as Naruto withdrew again, obviously taking the excuse of searching for something to drink to have some time to bury his love that threatened to overflow.
The door rang, distracting the dark-haired man from his previous observation. "If it's a girl again, I'll kill you!" Sasuke growled irritably.
"They're nice to me... and they always bring us food... why are you so upset?" the blond argued, reappearing from the kitchen.
Sakura narrowed her eyes toward the door, lips pinched in an unconscious gesture. She stopped her best friend, offering to deal with their morning visitor while he finished his breakfast. Her footsteps were heavy, close to stomping, denoting her aggravated state. Sasuke's eyes switched to his best friend. Naruto sat to continue eating unfazed, unaware of the evident sign of her jealousy. Only Naruto was clueless enough to miss the obvious signs in her demeanor.
Sakura jerked open the door, glaring daggers at the supposed insolent girl that came chasing after her teammates. Her expression morphed into one of surprise when she saw that in front of her stood the lazy Nara, a cigarette in between his lips. The strategist released a cloud of smoke before greeting her and stepping inside with familiarity to join the group at the table.
Sasuke frowned. Sakura, he could tolerate, but Sai or Shikamaru were another business. The two guys were patently hostile toward him and they were too close to Naruto for his liking. The Nara heir had kept a suspicious attitude since his return to Konoha, and the Uchiha felt rather irritable about being constantly evaluated under the glare of the strategist.
"All of you are here... perfect. You have a mission and you're needed at the Hokage tower," Shikamaru informed them.
Naruto was jumping fast, opening the way for his two teammates for this mission. Sakura was close behind the blond, not losing in endurance to her best friend, and Sasuke was at the rear, keeping an eye on any potential threat from behind.
With his enhanced senses in Sage mode, Naruto felt a disturbance in a village on their path to the location of their mission. Something in the air brought a dreadful feeling to his gut and the blond pushed his legs harder, forcing them to quicken their pace again. His teammates followed him, trusting their best friend blindly. Trees, leaves, branches –the forest was a blur as their speed increased.
A chill ran up the blond's back as he gracefully landed in front of what had once been a village. Nothing was left standing, the entire village burned to a crisp. Bodies littered the dirt, skin darker than charcoal of what remained of those poor souls, their faces torn in an ultimate grimace of pain. Sakura's fingers clenched tighter on Naruto's arm as she spotted what could have been a little girl not older than five-years-old. The blond gently squeezed her hand in a comforting gesture and she nodded.
Then the team dispersed to explore the debris of the place. The nauseous smell of death lingered all around them. Old, young, men and women alike, even children, not a single person survived. Naruto's jaw tensed as he freed a body from a woman's arms that had seemed unburned, but the baby had certainly suffocated with the smoke. The mother in a desperate attempt had shielded her newborn with her body. A lump formed in his throat, taking the infant in his hands. So little! At the sight, his heart constricted and his eyes watered.
Sasuke walked to the immobile form of his friend. He glanced over the blond's shoulder and called him to pull him out of his stupor.
"Naruto. I sent a message to the Hokage to inform him of the situation of this village. A team will come to take care of the site." Sasuke's tone was emotionless, cold, as a man that had already seen the depths of hell.
The blond placed the baby back in his mother's arms. Sasuke silently observed his best friend standing up. Naruto was so compassionate that even he couldn't stay insensible in front of such a display. Naruto's heart was his strongest asset and his biggest weakness at the same time. He saw the blond's contrite face and instinctively, Sasuke poked Naruto on the forehead.
"Pull yourself together, Dobe!"
Naruto rubbed the spot with a frown on his face. "Teme, are you picking a fight with this habit of yours of poking my forehead?"
Sasuke, desperate, sighed at his dense companion. "Forget it, idiot. Let's get going; there's nothing we can do here."
The blond followed his teammate and joined Sakura at the exit of the village. The pinkette harbored the same sad look as Naruto, and the blond forced a smile to cheer up his teammate.
"Did you find anything?" Sasuke asked her, his tone a little harsher than it normally should have been. His guts were churning over a disturbing feeling caused by Naruto's interaction with her.
She shook her head dejectedly and Naruto wanted to punch his best friend for bringing such an expression to Sakura's face, when he'd only just barely managed to bring back the ghost of a smile to her lovely lips.
Afterward, they continued moving forward toward the location of their mission, an old fortress where they were supposed to retrieve an old talisman. They estimated that they would need one more day to arrive, and so, later that night, they established their campsite in the protection of a limestone quarry.
All the way from the destroyed village, the atmosphere had been morose and silent. Naruto's emotions were mixed up between his anger over the atrocious crime on the village, his lingering jealousy and irritation toward Sasuke, and the pain from seeing Sakura's gloomy mood. All of it blew out, as expected, at the first spark between the two men.
It began with a punch and soon enough, they were both bleeding sufficiently that Sakura separating them forcefully.
Naruto left by himself to cool his head; he didn't feel like seeing Sakura taking care of the Uchiha. The bastard deserved his punch this time. Why did Sakura fall in love with such a jerk that kept talking to her so grimly? It was beyond his comprehension.
Sasuke stared at the retreating back of his best friend as Sakura was mending his split lip with some healing chakra. Without looking at her, he growled irritably, her presence stirring in him some unfathomable emotions.
"Don't be angry at Naruto, he's not like that normally...I'm sure he must already feel guilty," Sakura told him, gently patting his bruised jaw with a cream to help with the healing.
The dark-haired man glanced at her from the corner of his eyes. He didn't hate her, but he suspected she was the cause of Naruto's strange behavior towards him. The blond was different, unbalanced, every time she was involved in something. They were happy together just the two of them in their house. It was as if her invasive presence was disrupting their relationship. The blond sometimes voluntarily took a step back, erasing himself from the situation, or at the opposite end of the spectrum, he would suddenly become irrationally angry for no reason. It was all because of her, Sasuke was quite sure of it.
"You know, Sasuke-kun, Naruto likes you a lot… So much that I'm sometimes jealous of you," Sakura confessed with a tender smile. "We talked about you so much when you were away. You never left his thoughts." The pinkette stood up, dusting her skirt. "I'm going to find that idiot. It wouldn't be fair if I let Kurama heal him all by himself."
Sasuke snorted. He didn't dislike her; she was kind of his friend after all. "You both have a strange way of expressing your affection with punches."
"I never punched you!" Sakura retorted, outraged. She could admit that she had tried to kill him in the past, but that had been to stop him from sinking further into darkness, and save Naruto the pain of going after Sasuke because of his promise.
The last Uchiha's eyebrow twitched in annoyance at her denial. Didn't she realize that he was talking about her and Naruto? Better let them be… "Never mind!"
Sakura found Naruto sitting on a rock, back toward her. "Did you come to scold me?" he asked her with a heavy-hearted voice. "You can punch me straight to Suna. I know... I'm an idiot!"
She didn't want to admonish him when he looked already so crestfallen. "Do you want to talk to me about it?" the pinkette softly offered, attempting to heal his face with her chakra activated hand.
Naruto shook his head, pushing away her hand before standing up and taking a step away from her. "It's fine, you should go back to Sasuke, it'll heal by itself. It doesn't even hurt," the jinchuriki mumbled feebly.
He was feeling drained, so drained from hiding all his love, so drained from carrying it around for so long. There were days Naruto wished so hard that he'd never fallen for her, maybe his life would have been simpler without this weight on his chest.
Sakura frowned. She hated it when he distanced himself from her, avoiding her eyes like he was doing right now. Naruto had never been the kind of coward to lower his gaze. She stood up as well and forcefully grabbed his shirt, bringing his face at few mere inches away from hers.
"Tell me this instant, Naruto Uzumaki!" the pinkette ordered authoritatively.
Naruto sighed at the sight of her. She was so beautiful when she was angry and he was too emotionally exhausted to lie at that moment. "I planned to take my feelings to the grave, but if you're insisting so much to know… I'm tired of lying anyway. I love you!"
To be blunt, I will be waiting for your review to decide if I should publish the next chapter and write the other. Your reactions, comment will be the main reason if this story will be abandoned, short or long.
So if you like it and want more, review!