It had been a long mission, and Sakura couldn't stop herself from breathing a sigh of bone-deep relief when the cliffs of Konoha rose in the distance. The sight gave her a burst of renewed energy, and she bounded towards the gates at high speed, near-giddy at the thought of finally being able to shower properly and collapse into bed. She slowed down once the Gates came into view - manned by Kotetsu and Izumo, again, and how had they not yet gotten bored of their job? - and approached them at a civilian's pace.
"Hey, Sakura-san!" Kotetsu called out cheerfully. "Mission complete?"
"Yes, finally," she answered wearily. "Is the Hokage in house, or am I reporting in to Naruto?"
"Naruto," he replied, and they all shared an eyeroll at Kakashi's chronic fear of responsibility. At least it gave Naruto plenty of experience with the minutiae of a Hokage's job before he actually took up the hat himself.
"Oh, InoShikaCho's back in town, too!" Izumo piped up, and winked at her when she immediately perked up. "Have fun tonight!"
She didn't even react to his insinuation, too busy leaping over the rooftops to the Hokage-in-training's office. It had been far, far too long since both Ino and her had been in the village at the same time.
Her meeting with Naruto went mercifully quick - he was happy to see her, but distracted by paperwork, and contented himself with her quick "mission successful" and promise of a written report after a full night's sleep. She thought about going off to find Ino immediately, but then looked down at her stained clothes and filthy everything and changed course to her own apartment first.
Her apartment greeted her with the dusty stillness of weeks of disuse. She was so, so glad she'd remembered to clean the apartment of perishables before leaving. She dropped her pack to the floor with a groan, toeing off her sandals and pulling her vest off as she walked straight to the bathroom.
Hmm. Her clothes would probably survive to see another day. There were a couple of tears, but nothing she couldn't fix. She dropped everything in the washing machine instead of the trash, and, feeling very virtuous, immediately turned the machine on.
Then remembered she still had spare clothes in her pack, cursed, and went to grab them and stick them in too. And the bathroom only got a little flooded in the process!
… Adulthood was a work in progress.
She stepped under the shower and groaned at her muscles immediately losing some of their tension under the hot water. She stood there for a long moment, just letting the heat draw out the tensions and pain from the long mission.
She had just started scrubbing herself down when she heard the door fall shut softly. Immediately on alert, she yanked aside the shower curtain and threw the kunai she kept next to the shampoo at the figure standing next to the door.
"Hey, honey," Ino Yamanaka said stepping aside neatly, "I missed you too!"
"Ino!", Sakura exclaimed, "I could have hurt you!"
Ino's features softened. "I'm sorry, I should know better. But… I really missed you."
Sakura smiled at her weakly, willing her racing heart to slow. "I missed you too, love."
They smiled at each other stupidly for a minute until Sakura shook herself and said, "Well, what are you waiting for? Don't you wanna join me?"
Ino grinned back at her and shucked off her clothes, stepping into the shower and crowding close to Sakura. "Hi," she said, nose nearly touching Sakura's.
"Hi," said Sakura, and she couldn't have stopped herself from grinning if the world depended on it. "Wanna wash my hair for me?"
Ino burst into giggles, leaning her forehead on Sakura's shoulder. "Ever practical!" she gasped out.
"Well, my hair is really gross!" Sakura complained. "I couldn't wash it in anything but cold water for weeks!"
"Awww, poor baby," Ino cooed, but she did reach for the shampoo and directed Sakura to turn around.
"Mmmm," Sakura sighed as Ino gently massaged her scalp, "you're so good at that."
Ino huffed softly but didn't respond otherwise, and Sakura let herself drift, soothed by the soft scratch of fingers in her hair.
"Hey, don't fall asleep on me, Forehead," Ino said, and Sakura started. "I guess I must be even more exhausted than I thought," she said sheepishly. "Sorry, Ino-chan."
Ino kissed her fondly on the forehead. "Come on, let's get you washed up so you can go to sleep in your actual bed."
"But I wanted-" Sakura protested. Ino interrupted her with a kiss.
"I'll still be here when you wake up, honey," she said, then tacked on, "and so will my libido," with a ridiculous waggle of her eyebrows.
Sakura sighed. "It's just been so long! I'm glad you're not off to the next mission yet, though."
"A whole week of leave, mandated by Hokage himself!" Ino said, grinning. "Our Hokage takes rest very seriously, you know."
"That he does," Sakura agreed dryly, then broke out into a beaming smile. For once their schedules had actually lined up so they got more than a day or two at once together!
"So, you see, you don't have to push yourself so hard tonight in fear you'll miss out on my glorious, glorious bod," Ino continued, and kissed Sakura again when the latter snorted at her phrasing.
They got a bit distracted at this point, exchanging soft, open-mouthed kisses, but the truth was that Sakura was, unfortunately, too tired for much of anything, so it didn't take all that much longer for Sakura to finish washing. Ino dug a clean, fluffy towel out of the cupboard and helped Sakura dry off. And sure, Sakura could have done it herself, but it was nice to be cared for, nice to be that close with someone.
"Let me do your hair for you today?" Ino murmured, and blow-dried Sakura's hair in a way she never managed herself, all playful and full of volume without weird bits sticking out in the wrong place or everything turning into a sad, flat mess. When she was done, Ino kissed the top of her head. "There, all ready for bed," she said.
"Seems like a waste," Sakura said. "We could still go out to Yakiniku Grill or something?"
"Nuh-uh," Ino said, pointing an imperious finger in the direction of Sakura's bedroom. "Bedtime! Sleep!" Her tone turned joking. "Nobody else gets to see you this pretty but me!"
Sakura laughed and gave in, getting to her feet and pulling Ino along with her. "In that case, you definitely have to stick around with me to admire your handiwork," she said primly.
Ino laughed. "Nowhere else I'd rather be- and goodness do I sound cheesy right now."
They snuggled into bed together, skin to skin, Ino spooning up close behind Sakura and wrapping her arms around her waist. "I missed you," she murmured into her ear.
Sakura hummed softly in agreement, half asleep already. She felt Ino laugh silently at her, then nestle in closer, her breathing evening out into a slow, soothing rhythm that pulled Sakura right down into a deep, restful sleep.