A/N: Yo! It's been years. (dodges daggers from readers) And hot dang, a lot of things have happened. It ended. Naruto ended. And there came the entrance of canon stuff. Oh well, mixed feelings for me. Therefore, I hope you don't mind guys. The plot of the story remains, but I'll just have to tweak some parts. It still counts as AU I guess but I wanted to (desperately) follow the Naru-timeline. When I started this several years ago (no joke, 10 years ago) I was so sure at some point Sasuke would come back— okay, blind faith maybe— but a few years later, when the plot became darker, the drama became richer in tears, and the angst— oh boy the angst king turned to the point where most people including I thought he was beyond redemption, I became gradually shaken, and depressed. Things change, preferences, and even this site did! After the ending, I felt like I had been in a rollercoaster ride for ten years (and counting). Well it was a long story, so if you guys want to know (or want to talk to me) just email me. I do not bite! But to be honest, my motivation to write went downhill due to mostly real life circumstances.
I may re-write my others stories, or may not, but this specific story holds a really soft spot in my heart. I have promised to finish this, even just this one. I am, up until now, still touched how you guys received this when I was just starting. I have a lot of plot bunnies, but this one is the earliest manifestation of my adoration for SasuSaku. Okay, I will just leave the drama to the Uchiha family after all. (hiiides)
Set after the last encounter with Madara-senpai arc; I haven't watched the last movie and I don't know if it goes along with the manga. Again, this is being re-written. There will be a lot of changes (I've decided on that long time ago) so I'll be removing the other chapters beyond my latest update. I'm going to replace them with, hopefully, newer and better stuff.
I hope you guys enjoy! Thank you very much for giving time to read this work of mine.
"…and you're LATE!"
Kakashi scratched the back of his head. Some things never really changed even after a long time. Just like old times, having a meeting with his students, having a mission with his students, and having shouted by his students— as if he was the student and they were his teachers.
However, he was dealing with the older ones.
Naruto felt like his temper blowing up. Damn this perverted sensei of his! Well, what can you expect from that lazy old man? Old people tended to bear the bad memory lapses, which can greatly affect their responsibilities. He, the seventeen-year old 'fearless' Uzumaki I'm the freakin' next handsome Hokage' Naruto truly understood that fact; if that was the case, then their sensei should better quit being a ninja and just get married!
Like hell any mentally intact girl would fall for him with that kind of excuse, Naruto thought. The blonde-haired boy would truly believe that the dog can meow if his sensei gets married before he even does.
"Naruto, you've said that twenty times already. My ears are functioning very well, no need to worry." The silver-haired jounin mumbled calmly, but loud enough for them to hear with his book attached to his hand firmly. "And you are so mean. I still think of getting married someday."
"Then dream on, sensei!" Naruto yelled at his face. "And don't read my mind!"
"Naruto, give him a break. Old habits really die that hard for him." Haruno Sakura remarked and let out a genuine snigger. Currently at the age of sixteen, Sakura blossomed into one of the strongest kunoichi in Konoha, and she has almost inherited the Godaime's unparalleled skills of being a medical ninja. She grew more matured both physically and emotionally, which fascinated a lot of… hearts.
"Hmm. It smells another bet, doesn't it, Naruto?" Kakashi said, challenging Naruto. " Who's gonna get married first."
"YOU WON'T WIN! And DON'T change the subject here!"
Kakashi chuckled. "Yes, I could win for sure. Having a lover at this moment does not guarantee marriage in the Hyuuga's a powerful clan, mind you."
"T-that's absurd!" Naruto stuttered and blushed. "We are LEGALLY together! So…uhm… so don't talk…marriage…uhhh…"
He was out of words, they all knew that. Naruto could be speechless when it came to those kind of talks.
" So who's your bet, Sasuke?"
Sometimes, the Ice King of the ninja world wondered whether going back to Konoha was a right choice or a curse instead. He did not reply as expected. He just closed his eyes and let Naruto babble on the background.
Kakashi sighed with a small smile gracing his lips. What a truly nostalgic picture in front of him. His students, all grown up, who were once the troublemakers of the town, are now standing in front of him as the saviors of all ninjas, if not of the world.
Naruto can be right at one—that he was getting old by day, but he was so sure their stories are not reaching the last pages yet. "Anyway, I got a mission for all of you."
Three pairs of eyes instantly looked at his direction.
"Mission?" They can all feel Naruto's ecstasy meter rising up by second. "Mission, you say? Mission? Mission, am I hearing it right? Mission, did you say that from the bottom of your heart—"
Team Seven's dynamics would not be completed without Sakura's very hard affection for Naruto every time… just literally. "Naruto, repeat the word and I am going to put you to the bottom part of this field."
The masked man chuckled. Maybe he was time travelling, not getting old. "Yes, my dear former students. I hope you treat this as my gift for all of you, and as our heartwarming reunion as well. This is probably the last that I can give to you after all…" Sakura mentally noted that their teacher might be changing status in a matter of time, but he did not have to put it that way.
" Leave all the drama to Sasuke, Hokage-sama." Naruto replied as he put his hands at the back of his head, pouting and not minding his best guy's unnoticeable sharp eyes on him. "What's the mission, anyway? Why isn't granny—" He earned another glare from Sakura. "—telling that to us? Why isn't Sai and Yamato-taichou with us? Why must I team up with 'Suke-teme and Sakura-chan? Why should things like that be said in this place, and not at Ichiraku's? Why aren't you treating us with ramen sensei? Why—"
"—did Hinata-chan date you, Naruto." Sakura continued as she slapped her palm against her forehead in annoyance.
" I believe there is no answer to that, Sakura." A voice suddenly intervened, revealing that it was Sai, the newest member of the team. " However, I read in a book that when people have no better reason to admire someone, then they are perhaps good as blind."
Ending his speech with his so guiltless smile, he earned a mountain of grumble and sick words from Naruto and unexpectedly, Sasuke's eyes on him. Sakura inadvertently noticed that and thought that they have not interacted with each other well, after all. I wonder how he views Sai. She was sure that they would get along, too, if given a chance. After the war, Sasuke had been to long trips outside Konoha, so it could not be helped if he has not yet acquainted himself with the others enough. He is with us right now, so there will be a lot of chances.
Her train of thoughts consequently led her to a memory which made her aware of the increase heat on her face. When the guy of her thoughts literally matched her eyes on him— he probably felt her gaze on him— she immediately looked away and composed herself in a matter of seconds. Sakura mentally slapped herself for lulling in her thoughts. You can't stare at an Uchiha for more than three seconds without valid grounds.
Kakashi did not miss that split second supposedly unnoticeable exchange between the two. He chuckled inwardly. "To answer all of your questions Naruto… yes."
"How does that answer any of my questions?!"
"Naruto-kun, I can tell you one— they say that 'love is blind'." Sai was not clearly helping.
The future hokage screamed.
Sakura could not help but feel amused. She giggled at the sight and it seemed she secretly enjoyed whenever Naruto was in that kind of distress. "Guys, stop bullying Naruto."
They all turned to the laughing Sakura. They rarely witness her having that kind of expression on her face recently. It was kind of refreshing scenery for them.
"Sakura-chan." Naruto's eyes turned puppy ones submitting to Sakura as he hugged her not so lightly. "You're the only one who really understands me in this team! Huwaaa!"
"Naruto, let go of me!" Sakura tried to get out of his death hug. She might be physically strong, but whenever he goes to that Sakura-worshipping mode it becomes troublesome for her to get out. Plus his height. "Ugh, I swear if you don't I'm going to change my mind!"
Naruto continued on his chant. However, he did not miss the subtle flicker of Sasuke's orbs on him.
"You two are really close." Man, Sai cannot just seem to stop being frank. "Are you sure you are not on a secret affair?"
Sakura and Naruto both stopped their current actions and looked like they wanted to hit Sai. "Seriously what kind of books are you reading Sai-teme?!"
Kakashi pulled out his orange book. "You kids have still long way to go."
"My love for Hinata and Sakura-chan are on different scales, you know!" Naruto pointed his finger on Sai. "Do not misunderstand things, you stupid Sai-teme! Choose better readings!"
"A good reader must accept truths, mustn't he?"
"Arrrgggghh!" Naruto grumbled for the umpteenth time of that day. "Then I'll tell you one truth: Uzumaki Naruto is dating Hyuuga Hinata. And Haruno Sakura-chan is really strong and beautiful!"
Sakura was beginning to redden in embarrassment. They were not seriously turning the table on her, were they?
" That is two truths and half-lie." Sai retorted, still in his innocent smile. "I know you are quite the dumb in Math, but you seriously need to focus more on Logic, Naruto-kun."
"Y-you better hold that tongue of yours, Sai-teme!" Naruto was beginning to feel the aura of wrath emanating from their medic. "S-Sakura-chan, don't mind him, he's always like that but in fact he likes you too!
"Yes, I like Sakura." Sai felt like letting his gaze fall on Sasuke who appeared to be not reacting at all. His reputation is real. " But I like Naruto-kun too."
Naruto looked grossed out. " I know I am handsome enough, but if you are going to gay for me, might as well direct that confession to whom you are referring to!"
Sai looked at him, never removing the smile mask on his face. " Don't get jealous."
"You surprisingly talk a lot today, Sai." They can hear crackles from Sakura's fist. "Do you want me to check up on you?" Literally translated as 'you might want to lose your ability to talk if you don't stop' in her language. And the boys knew that.
" Thanks. I didn't know you like me too, Sakura."
Naruto glanced at Sasuke briefly, and then continued attacking Sai. "You better not add more malice on that. Sasuke-teme, do not misunderstand, just because stupid Sai got some part of your ugly looks does not necessarily mean she's in to him." Naruto then looked at Sakura sheepishly. "Right, Sakura-chan?"
It seemed that it won't stop any time soon; Sakura perhaps need to reduce her options down to her gloves inside her bag.
"Ahh, so Sakura likes Sasuke-kun, too?"
Kakashi chuckled. It seemed their eminent cause of death would be due to idiotism.
" I think Sasuke-teme can answer that. Fufufu, " Naruto's smile turned into a teasing one.
"I think you guys," Sakura snapped, but she went off as clamly as she could. "-are better off not passing your genes to the next generation. Would you let me do the honor..." She tailed off, changing her expression like she was ready to pummel someone into submission. "... For humanity's sake?"
Sai did not say anything further. Naruto paled. Sasuke, on the other hand, smirked.
"Sensei, please continue." Sakura, still annoyed, crossed her arm and leaned against the giant tree. She has had enough of this. From Kakashi's marriage down to her love life? Only in team 7.
"Boys, you should have realized that life is hard." The males in the group did not get exactly what he meant, but they all knew deep within that putting themselves on Sakura's bad side would be their ultimate suicide. Before the conversation could go into different directions, Kakashi cleared his throat. "And as I was saying, you all have to complete a very important mission. This will be your last assignment under my guidance."
"You have to find a missing baby—"
And prior to Naruto's anticipated reaction for what he thought a low-class mission emerge in the scene, Sakura clamped her hand on his mouth firmly. Forget height; she has gotten enough of Naruto's nags.
"—Anyway, don't just underestimate this mission. It was important, according to the fifth—that's why she entrusted this task to you. As I was saying, you have to retrieve that missing baby. Reports say that the infant was still within the borders of Konoha." He paused while scanning his students' reactions. "Again, it's a baby o'right? You have to find before it gets too late. Children are the hope of the world," Okay, enough with the sob lines. "So I am expecting you could find him until today. That's all, see you later!" And after that, a loud 'poof' was heard throughout the area.
It took five seconds before someone broke the ice that their teacher left them with.
"What the hell, I get that we got a mission, but I thought it gotta be better than saving the world from aliens!" Sakura narrowed her eyes on Naruto What the hell are you watching these days? "Forget the important details of this retrieval task—man, we're missing the opportunity to celebrate Suke-teme's graduation from his soul-searching arc."
No matter how collected appeared to be Sasuke always felt like burning Naruto's tongue with Amaterasu since he had acquired it.
"What happened to 'under my guidance' part?" Sakura was annoyed too, but that was part of Kakashi's traits after all.
"So this is how the former team 7 prepares, I see." Sai noted, still smiling. "I'd like to hear Sasuke-kun's plan as the leader of this group."
The referred man's sharp gaze landed on Sai. On the other hand, Naruto was ready to complain for the umpteenth time of that day."
"Who said he's the leader? If I had to—" Sakura face-palmed for the umpteenth time of the day as well.
That was the first and last time Sasuke opened his mouth to speak as he disappeared into thin air.
Naruto sighed. "That bastard, always stealing the spotlight with his verbally-handicapped skills." They all agreed that he was exactly not good with communication. "After this we gotta go at Ichiraku's mmkay? Lez go team!"
And with that, they all disappeared in a blink of an eye.
Sakura continued to wander around the forest and looked everywhere. She spotted nothing at the last bush she stopped by, and sighed. I guess finding the baby is harder than I thought.
Not any later from that moment, she sensed another chakra signature near her. She readied her kunai as she tried to recognize it, but the carrier then divulged himself. She found Sai walking towards her direction.
"Were you expecting someone who looks like me instead?" Sai started off, making Sakura glare at him as he approached her.
She chose to ignore his little insinuation though. "Got any clues?"
"None yet." For someone who has a task on looking for something, he was pretty seeing fresh.
"You're not seriously looking, are you?"
"I am serious." Sai said, smiling at her. "We got to appreciate Mother Earth more often."
She kept on getting weirdoes in her team, she thought, sighing.
Sai laughed. "Ugly, are you going out with Sasuke-kun?"
"Huh?!" Sakura reacted, unable to hide her shock and reddening face. "What are you talking ab—"
That deep, velvety voice snatched the attention of the two. They turned to its direction and saw Sasuke, who was a few feet away, directly looking at them.
"Sa-Sasuke-kun..." All Sakura managed to say. Oh boy, Sai does not only have hands that can draw anything and put it into life, he apparently has a tongue that could, too.
" Sasuke-kun, did you get anything?" It was a nice follow up from Sai to redirect the conversation to their current task. However, Sasuke only shook his head lightly.
An awkward silence followed and Sakura was seriously racking her brains out how to liven up the conversation with them. But before Sakura could say anything, Sai suddenly leaned closer to her, with a few centimeters away from her face. He was about to whisper something when he literally felt Sasuke move from his spot gradually. I see.
Sai looked like he was about to say something but somehow changed his stance. He smiled at Sakura for one last time as he disappeared in a puff of smoke.
It took a few moments before Sakura absorbed what actually has transpired. "Thanks Sai for always making fun of me…" She mumbled not too softly, momentarily forgetting that she was totally not alone. "Uhh. I'm sorry, I hope you don't mind Sai—"
"Let's go." Without waiting for Sakura's response, he trudged his way and passed by her.
Sakura eyebrows knitted. To many people, his demeanors would only mean his indifference to situations, objects, or even people. Regardless whether the circumstances called for a happy one or not, he would always seem not to care at all. His expression as blank as paper, but as cold as ice.
But for the few people who were truly close to him, they knew the discrepancies between his icy-like reactions. After all, it took them a lot of willpower and life-and-death effort in order to fully understand his whole being.
He is annoyed.
Sakura sighed. It was probably safe to say that the physical manifestation of 'annoying' in Sasuke's vocabulary is her existence.
He is quite annoyed.
It was not really because of Naruto's incessant rant nor Kakashi's product of indolence. It was not also because of the Sai's emergence in the team. At some point, he could not quite decipher the reason, but the starting place was definitely from their only female teammate, Sakura. He chose to shrug it off, thinking of it as useless idea to ponder on. He has better things to do.
Sakura was able to catch up with him quickly. She was now walking beside him, looking directly at the way before them. Oh, this girl was the source of his invisible annoyance. No one dared to speak as they trudged along their path.
This girl—woman— the last time he talked to her was prior to his journey outside Konoha. This was also the same girl whom he indirectly promised to comeback to, and to hold his future with. But it was so vague he could guess she was not able to process that information, if there was any to begin with. It was not an empty promise, at least on his side; however, he knew how to consider the probable outcome of time passing by.
She has changed.
"… How did that baby get lost in the first place?" Sasuke broke out of his reverie as he heard Sakura speak, crossing her arms. "We should have investigated the parents first; thanks to sensei's laziness to spit information and we're down to guessing game again. But we do have to find the poor baby. He must be feeling cold or even hungry at this time."
Sasuke continued to watch Sakura. He always found it interesting to watch Sakura indulge herself in her thoughts. Her warm compassion was also something he can never get tired of from her; it was probably the trait that could fully describe her.
Of course, there was no way he could directly tell her that.
It was not any later that Sakura's intuition came into fruition. Both of them quickly focused their attention at the sound of somewhat baby cries. They ran to the direction of the voice right away and noticed a contour of small figure. Sakura's eyes widened as she revealed the existence under the thick blanket.
The baby stopped crying momentarily and hiccupped. He looked up to Sakura with teary eyes.
Slowly but carefully, Sakura lifted the child and held it closer to her. A heartwarming smile swapped her astonished face as she stared at the baby. She felt mixed emotions running through her veins.
"Kawaii!" Sakura continued to chant as she hugged the baby lightly. She was apparently holding back to fully do her way towards the very irresistible creature.
Sasuke looked at them blankly. Girls of all ages have zero immunity towards cute stuff, specifically adorable infants. But he got to admit to himself— the sight before him is something he can look at for hours.
"Kawaii! Kawaii! Kawaii!" Sakura felt her feet taking her to Sasuke's side. She never felt like this before. Well, she used to interact with children to begin with. It should not have been an exception, but she could not get away with the feeling every time. "Ne, take a look at the baby Sasuke-kun! Hmm…I think he is between one to two years old…" She was definitely showing him not only the baby, but her adorable reactions as well. "Look, he's smiling! He is smiling at you, Sasuke-kun!"
If he was going to be honest with her, he did not really know how to react. It was safe to say he never interacted with one. Maybe he had, but he has absolutely zero skills left in him.
He could only stare at the child blankly. Sakura was right; he looked adorable. With those puffy cheeks and puppy eyes, anyone can get swooned over. He noted the baby's onyx eyes and jet-black hair which somehow reminded him of the children in his clan, his family.
His expression somehow changed a little at the memory. Sakura noticed it, and broke the seemingly staring contest between the two. "You're going to scare him, Sasuke-kun."
It was the truth. Strangers have always shown to be very afraid of him whenever they encounter him. It was as if he has an eternal Halloween mask plastered on his face. Perhaps due to his eyes? His power? His lineage? It could be very well his very existence.
Sasuke closed his eyes. Before he could scare that little angel off, he has to get away from his sight. "Let's go."
Sakura was too late to realize her mistake. Wrong choice of words. "Ano, Sasuke-kun that's not what I—"
He was about to turn around when he felt a tug on his poncho, only to find a pair of unabashed eyes on him. The baby's lips gradually curved into a grin from ear to ear.
They were stunned to the ground.
Few bird chipping passed by until the baby wore a bemused look. He then turned to the one who was carrying him as they heard from his tiny voice again.
Just two words from a defenseless infant have rendered two legendary ninjas immobile for the next seconds.