Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. All Naruto characters belong to Kishimoto-sensei, whom I bow down to.--------------------------------------------------------------
The door closed behind her. She held the folder in one hand and walked down the long hallway, occasionally waving a hello and saying a good morning to her fellow shinobi. She sighed as she took a turn into the chuunin lounge for a quick cup of coffee.
For Haruno Sakura, this day was like any other. She yawned as she stirred in some creamer and milk.
Yes, even the coffee is cheap as ever, she said to herself.
She had just received a mission from Tsunade-sama to be a medical-nin on yet another ANBU task. She could almost do these missions in her sleep. Time had definitely passed since she was the useless, young konoichi always getting in the way. Although her skill level wasn't and could never be anywhere near her old teammates', she found her niche in the medical field and became a valuable asset to her squad during battle. Tsunade constantly reminded medical ninjas before missions to keep their wits with them at all times and not let emotion clouds sound judgment. Lucky for Sakura and her career, she was rather level-headed these days. Her goal was always clear- to tend to and heal the injured. She never got too involved with the task itself, and of course, never got involved with the members executing the task. She found it just made her job easier. No faces, no names- just bodies and wounds. It made sense.
Sakura lazily opened the folder as she sipped her coffee, but soon got bored reading the context of the mission.
They're all the same anyway.
She shut the folder again and stared at the coffee machine.
Tsunade-sama said 3 pm, right? Hmm...short notice.
Sakura mechanically left the lounge and exited the main offices, pouring the final half of her coffee down a drinking fountain on the way out.
The sun was bright for 8 am, and Sakura squinted painfully as she walked back to her apartment. She passed by Ichiraku Ramen on her way back, smiling at the memory of Naruto's obsession with their miso noodles. Then Sakura's mouth tensed and her brows furrowed a bit.
Naruto...you better be careful on your mission!
She was a little worried. He was a jounin already, one of the best in the village; but as such, he was constantly embarking on crazy S class missions. Naruto would always jump at the challenge, but during the brief periods he was home Sakura could see the fatigue marking his young face. Maybe it was a test from Tsunade- rumor had it that she was going to appoint the 6th soon. Naruto probably felt like he needed to prove himself for the job.
She missed him- he had been gone for, what, a whole month now. Over the years Naruto had mellowed out a bit, let go of his silly crush on her, and grown into a handsome young man, but she always saw him as the endearingly noisy, determined ninja. They were friends, best friends- but only friends. Their relationship was comfortable the way it was.
Sakura arrived at the familiar Yamanaka Flower Shop.
"Ah! Sakura, a little late today?" a friendly voice called to her behind the desk.
"Ohaiyo, Ino. I had to stop by and pick up my mission folder from Tsunade-sama this morning. Were you worried about me?" Sakura smiled at her long time rival but now good friend. There was no reason to compete for Sasuke's love anymore, especially since...
"Haha, I thought maybe you had inherited his disregard for punctuality!" Ino shot back smugly. It was meant to be a joke, but it wasn't funny and she realized that immediately. Ino looked down away from Sakura's gaze and muttered, "Sorry."
Sakura forced a smile and said, "It's okay, Ino. It's been two years now."
Ino shook her head. "It doesn't make it right. I'm really sorry, Sakura, I shouldn't have---"
Sakura waved it off and interrupted her, saying, "Forget it. So did you get any new flowers today?"
Ino sighed and said, "Yeah, they're on the right." She got off her stool and led Sakura to them.
An idea struck her as she bent down to pick out the flowers Sakura always bought. "You know what? Today, they're on the house!"
Sakura, surprised, laughed, "No way, Ino! It's okay!"
As Sakura reached into her pocket, Ino said, "Forget it! I'm not taking your money!"
Sakura began, "if this is about before..."
Ino said, "Please, Sakura. You're so stubborn- just leave! I think you have somewhere to go..."
Sakura sighed and accepted the bouquet from Ino's hands, "Yeah I do. Hopefully I'll come back from my mission before these die."
Ino smiled and gave Sakura a hug. "Good luck- and don't do anything stupid like get yourself killed."
Sakura laughed and said, "I promise I won't. It's nothing I haven't done before." She paused. "Thank you, Ino. And see you soon okay?"
Ino rubbed the side of Sakura's arm and said, "Alright! Take care of yourself."
Sakura waved and left the flower shop.
Just one more thing to do before I start packing.
Sorry, Kakashi-sensei, these flowers will have to last for awhile.