18/12/2006

Ratings changed from T to M for adult situation. Chapter 2 has been revised, and due to confusion, I have removed the term "car" and replaced it with "carriage horse" instead. Hopefully it won't seem odd anymore. More explanation, and whatever I have to say will be after the story, right down there.

In the meanwhile, enjoy the finale.

Closing the Chapter
Thanks to SharinganK for beta-ing.

Act 3:
Chemistry in the air

The water tap squeaked when she twisted it, and pellets of water rained down on her nude form.

Pink hair stuck to her skin, water dripping down her nose - her eyes were shut, and the events of the day replayed in her mind. From the goofy grin he had in the morning, the exchange of oaths and rings, the cheers and whistles of their comrades, and the celebration that lasted all evening. She had been surprised that he wasn't drunk, considering how many toasts - she had stopped counting when he toasted for the twentieth time - he made with the others, ranging from the older generation to their generation, then to the younger generation.

Or, if he was, he did a good job of hiding it.

And then...the unexpected visit to the memorial stone.

How long had it been since it happened?

Two years? It certainly felt just like yesterday.

"...I'm sorry, Sakura-chan. For - for ruining the day like this..." He hugged her from behind, when she said she was going to take a shower first, since she had gotten herself a little dirty when she saved the bird. The threat she had voiced to him if her clothes got dirty had been forgotten.

"I - I shouldn't have..."

She had cut him off with a kiss, turning around in his arms so quickly he didn't expect it.

Sighing, she tilted her head up, the water now pattering on her face. She ran her hands through her wet hair, flicking it behind her ear.

It was nightfall, now. And despite what happened in the evening, which would probably have spoiled the mood to do...that, her stomach couldn't help but be a little queasy. For so long she had anticipated this, and yet, right now, she wanted to just delay it.

But, then again, there was no point avoiding the invietable.

She didn't take too long in the showers, after that.

Clad in cotton bath robes - and within it, hesitant as she was, nothing - she stepped out of the bathroom, hair slightly damp, and she had to raise an eyebrow. The lightings in the room was dim, as if in a try to make things look more romantic.

Naruto hadn't noticed her yet. The tie had been thrown carelessly to the floor, she noted. He was pacing in circles, one fist lifted to his chin as the other hand supported his elbow, eyebrows crunched in what seemed to be deep concentration.

Torn between amusement and understanding, she settled for a slight shake of head, and took in a deep breath. She wasn't alone in this, she realized, Naruto had been feeling the same thing that she did.

"Nervous?" She asked casually.

His head jerked up and he stopped pacing, staring at her like a deer caught in the headlights. She had to stifle a smile threatening to form at that expression.

He straightened, his look turning into a mock-glare, and she knew from there that she had been caught red-handed.

Uh-oh.

She backed when he begun marching towards her, until she could move no longer, her back pressed to the wall. The blond, taller, bigger, stronger - there was no doubt she didn't stand a chance again him - closed the distance between them, his gaze unreadable. She had lifted her arms instinctively, trying to create what little space possible between them.

"Um...Naruto?"

And then his hands shot forward.

She gasped, eyes widening.

He was, by all means, using the most dangerous weapon against her, one that would almost always make her surrender immediately without a second thought, giving him the power to dominate her.

Uzumaki Naruto was - to her horror - tickling her.

The squeals she gave only egged him on even as she protested helplessly, trying to curl into a ball in an attempt to stop him as she slid down the wall onto the carpeted floor, but he persisted, squatting, fingers dancing along her ribs - sometime ago, he had found her tickle spot, and never did fail to use it against her when she teased or laughed at him, seeing as he had always been stripped of his ability to retort when it comes to her, and only her - and soon she just gave in to the twitching of her body in laughter.

When they had finally calmed down, she was in his hold again, her back facing him, one arm wrapped around her waist as the other intertwined with her hand.

"Not nervous," he mumbled into her hair.

She shook her head at the rapid heartbeat she felt against her back, and his shaking fingers that gave lie to his words.

"Well," she ventured carefully, "We have faced the Akatsuki, a legendary sannin, even one village of Sound...I'm sure this can't be much harder."

"And besides," she continued after a pause, "We are both intuitive and quick learners."

He was still holding her hand, playing with the gold ring on her finger absently as he contemplated. "I probably should have asked Ero-sennin for advice. Or maybe even Kakashi-sensei..."

She felt herself stop cold at his tone. Naruto only used that tone in important meetings.

By the gods, he was serious.

Snatching her hand away from his instantly, a furious blush on her face, she twisted around to face him.

"You most certainly will not!"

"Eh? But why not?"

Her eyebrow twitched. "Naruto," she said in a measured tone, and then stopped.

He had grown silent. Perhaps it was the murderous glare on her face that ultimately stamped down on his curiosity. Only, the one odd thing was, his blue eyes was wide, staring at something intently...

...Her shoulder?

Her eyes widened, and she felt her cheeks heat up instantly when she realized why he had been staring so...intensely, and her hand moved instantly to the robe that had slid off, which revealed smooth, soft skin.

But he was faster.

She was startled, her wrist caught by a hand. There was, however, no time to think, when his lips had found hers, demanding instant access to her depths. Unlike earlier, it was gentle, softly passionate, and probing. Humor was banished there and then, and when they parted, he had moved to nibble on her ear. Strong arms held her tight, and she relaxed into the hands that caressed her arms and back.

Then his scorching lips found its way to her neck and she gasped, a jolt of electricity going up her spine, and her fingers clamped down on his shirt by impulse. He was nudging her robes off slowly, his hot kisses covering every part that came revealed as he went, and then, suddenly, one hand hooked under her knees as the other supported her back - and she was lifted into the air, then lowered onto the soft mattress.

A light blush covered her cheeks as she fought to gather back her scattered thoughts. She felt the bed sunk when he hovered over her, his face a mere two inches from her own face. Then slowly, ever so slowly, he untied the bathrobe, the only clothing she had on her.

He was staring at her again. Except, this time, he was looking her up and down, pausing at certain places - which she did not even dare to think of, even if the answer was clear at the back of her mind - all the while fighting to stop her face from lighting up. She resisted the urge to cover herself again, suddenly feeling inadequate.

"Well?" She asked, trying to hide whatever fear she felt with faked strength.

He moved to give her a little peck of lips on her forehead.

"Beautiful," he whispered, warm breath on her nose.

"You are so beautiful," he had murmured, moving to kiss her eyes, then her nose, cheeks, and lips. His hands were caressing everywhere, from the top to her stomach, her hands, legs - and she just had to giggle, despite her skin feeling as if it was on fire. She couldn't help it, she was ticklish. He was undeterred, still, and moved to nibble on her neck again, hands exploring.

She started tugging at his shirt, almost unaware of her own actions, and he obliged - except that he was doing it so very slowly, the culprit being his one clumsy hand that was unbuttoning his shirt as his lips moved lower, trailing kisses over her collarbone, across her breasts, suckling, nipping. It wasn't his hand's fault - well, not really - since he couldn't see his own clothes, from where he had buried his head into.

He was, to put it in a way, experimenting. He had found a couple of new tickle spots - which he mentally scribbled down in his mind for later uses - plus several places that...Sakura seemed to have a response on. Where he touched or kissed, he catalogued her reactions in his mind, and wisely used it to determine if he was doing the right thing.

And then his lips grazed across one rough spot, the only place that marred her otherwise perfect body. He lifted his head slowly, and gazed at it for a moment, calloused hand trailing over it with a feather-like touch.

It had to be almost, or at least, two inches in diameter, situated near the belly button.

That moment must have lasted at least two minutes, because slender fingers had moved to caress his face to get his attention, and when he looked up - questioning green eyes in a flushed face stared back at him.

"This scar," he said quietly, returning to stare at it. He ignored the luscious curves in favor of the two-inch scar. It was not a perfect circle, rather, jagged at its edges...the type of scar that, to his knowledge, only one type of attack could give.

"It was given by Sasuke, wasn't it?"

He felt her tense beneath him.

"Naruto..."

"When he slammed a chidori into your stomach that day."

She was silent.

Then he moved again, and without warning, he brought her into his arms, her breasts flattening into his bare chest, curves molding to his hard ones.

He felt, rather than saw, her eyes widen, before she relaxed in his grasp, eyes closing gently as a soft sigh escaped her lips. Her slender hands moved up and down his back - the shirt was still on, even if unbuttoned - as if trying to calm a crying child.

They stayed that way, for a little while. Just in each other's arms, seeking comfort and warmth from each other. Nothing more, nothing less.

Then he lifted his head, loosening his hold just slightly, and decidedly stared into her eyes with the biggest blue eyes she ever seen him put on. The puppy look he gave before didn't even come close to this. A hand, rough from daily uses of kunai and all other weapons, caressed her face, tucking a stray pink hair behind her ear.

"I love you," he said suddenly, eyes the color of the summer's sky gazing back into her own; and she felt a smile form despite herself.

"Me too," she had replied.

The blond sat up, shrugging off his shirt. All other clothing was divested as quickly, before he descended upon her once more.

They went at a much faster pace after that - though still stumbling and blushing, which often ended with them laughing - and the sexual tension rose steadily, if not discreetly.

She smiled again when he looked at her questioningly, despite being short of breath. One arm curled around his back, before grasping the back of his shoulder as the other laced with his own hand, before nodding into his neck.

That was all the permission he needed, and he fumbled for a little while, before he found it. He shot her another look, to which she nodded again, and he entered her in one quick thrust, hoping without fail to minimize the pain as he stayed still.

She let out a shuddering breath, gasping as her eyes shut tightly, and her nails dug into his shoulder, fingers tightening its hold on his hand. He was kissing her, nibbling her ear and neck, all the while muttering apologies under his breath.

"Just...move," she found herself saying between clenched teeth, even as she automatically tried to maneuver herself into a more comfortable position, trying to ignore the jolts that went through her as she did. She did have felt him stiffening above her, trying to keep completely still. It took only an instant to understand his intentions - which made her want to roll her eyes. He wanted to go on, but was afraid to hurt her more. How typical of him.

"But - "

"Move."

And he did, albeit reluctantly.

Her fingers clamped on his hand tightly, eyes remaining shut as he complied. Moving in and out at a slow, steady pace was the only thing he resolutely decided he would do, to give her time to settle in - despite the urge to be fast, and hard. The soft, breathy gasps she blew into his neck, if anything, made it even harder to control himself.

It wasn't like she hadn't been unaware, either. She knew, when she had felt him ground his teeth together. He was holding himself back for her. And, proving true to her words that they - or at least her - were quick and intuitive learners, she had gotten accustomed to the feel of him in her easily, the pins and needles she felt fading.

With that, the slowness of his thrusts was becoming unbearable as quickly.

"Naruto," she muttered in between little gasps of air, "Faster."

That was the only encouragement he needed, the indication that she too craved for what he wanted, and he started to throw his weight behind each thrust, embedding himself deep in her each time he moved. Her fingers that were laced with his tightened, the grip almost crushing. If earlier had been just little gasps of air, this was even worse - lack of air, sharp, shallow breaths between intervals of the time he moved in and out, and something - some kind of presure - had begun to build in the pit of her stomach, increasing almost agonizingly with each movement, and she couldn't help but wish it would just go immediately. She felt incredibly dizzy, and she couldn't catch all the sounds he had made under his scorching breath - just a few, like a grunt, and some incomprehensible words that came out multiple times.

He was moving even faster now, in a frenzied speed, and all rational thoughts was fleeing from her mind, before something in her just - burst, her voice cried out of its own accord, something that sounded suspiciously like his name as she felt something - teeth? - clamp down on her neck. Her vision was momentarily blinded by a sudden bright spark before blacking out, before she felt all tension and energy disappear from her body. She had never felt this relaxed before.

A heavy, reassuring weight lay on top of her, and she could feel the rapid heart beat against her breast. They were both breathing hard now.

When he calmed down, he rolled over, arm sneaking around her waist, and brought her on top of him.

He gave a contented sigh.

She felt an eyebrow twitch, and fought to not roll her eyes. She was a kunoichi, more so the one with the extroadinary strength, and he - oh, she could just see the gears working in his brain, all right - seems to think she can't handle his weight.

Men, the lot of them.

Shaking her head slightly, one hand pressing on his chest as she slid up to give a light kiss on his lips - ignoring the jolts she still felt when her insides rubbed on him. He was still inside her - to which he responded by changing it into a soft, passionate kiss, his tongue exploring the depths of her mouth. His hand, from the bed sheets, had moved to rake across her back to her neck, intending to entangle itself in those lustrious pink hair - before she suddenly winced in pain at a sharp pain at the base of her neck where he had just touched.

He blinked, a little more than alarmed. So startled that he sat up straight, easing off her, and somehow manuevering her around to straddle him.

"Does it still hurt?" Concerned, he attempted to look down there - to which her eyes grew into completely rounded circles as he made her lean back to get a better...view.

He thought the pain was coming from down there.

Stunned as she was, she did not move to stop him - which, of course, allowed him a good two minutes of inspection. From the corner of her eyes, she spied his hand coming down to that part, fingers intending to - to ...

Then realization came crashing down on her, and a furious blush lighted her face into flames. Her hand shot up to push him back down to the bed instantly - a little rougher than she intended.

"Naruto no baka!"

His eyes were wide with surprise. "Huh? What? What did I do?"

She groaned.

He was still staring at her with big blue eyes full of questions.

She shifted a little uncomfortably, feeling unbelievably naked in his stare, not to mention she was indeed unclad right now, AND straddling him.

"The pain wasn't coming from there," she muttered, her gaze on anything but him. Her hand lifted to rub her neck, indicating where she had felt something clamping on the skin earlier.

His brow scrunched in worry, and he peered at her neck. And there it was, a red bite mark on her pale skin, to which he suddenly realized how it came about. Grasping her elbows, he pushed himself up - again - brushing his lips over the red welt on her skin.

Then he brought her close, nose buried in her hair, plopping back down to the bed unceremoniously with her in his arms.

"Sorry, my fault," he mumbled sullenly.

She blinked. Then she smiled.

"Don't be," she had murmured back, before leaning over to kiss him again. If it was anything at all, it would only serve to tell her that what happened had not been but a mere fickle dream, instead a reality - a reality that she had longed for, her dreams having been shattered, rebuilt, changed, altered one too many times, and this...this little pain would remind her, that, with time and effort and feelings, dreams can come true.

His hands were trailing all over her back with a feather-like touch, while his tongue searched the depths of her mouth with unexpected gentleness, yet possessively. It wasn't long before he was above her again, tasting her, savouring her like there wasn't anything better in the world - and she was giving without reservation.

It wasn't long before she was driven over the edge of her sanity once more.

He kissed her roughly on the lips when they were finally done - but not enough to hurt, and pulled her close to him, an arm draped loosely over her waist. She snuggled into his arms, and despite being wide awake a second earlier, her eyelids begun to grow heavy.

...A reality, scarred by lost innocence, blood and tears...

But a reality, nonetheless.

The past was a memory to be kept, to be remembered for as long as they could; till they grow old and weak, till they die...for it was that made them today. It was a scar, a large, fading scar.

But then again, it wasn't quite a scar either.

In their memories, Team Seven lives. Everything, from the petty dislike and immaturity in the beginning, to rivalry and growing feelings, to the disbandment of their team and their reunion, down to the final battle...

There were so many ups and downs, but they were still Team Seven, with a bond that forged through years, hardened and impossible to break.

Sakura closed her eyes and smiled as she drifted off to sleep, cradled in his arms.

It was a memory that would prove dreams are attainable, no matter how impossible they seem.

She dreamt of the future, that night.


A.N.

And...that's it. Hope it's a good one for you all - it certainly is for me. Looking back, I haven't touched, let alone read, this piece of story for a few months. And it's given me the opportunity, when I read it just two-three days back, to read this story from a reader's eyes - because, clearly, I had more or less forgotten what I had written, and what I felt when I wrote this back then was but a ghost of a feeling, it's there, but I couldn't quite capture that feeling again.

But before I move on, I will address a certain issue about chapter 2; where almost everyone seem to be weirded out by the presence of a car in Naruto world. I suppose it did seem odd, considering that the era of Naruto plainly radiates olden days; aside from two glaring facts - there are people who wear suits (Gatou, anyone?), and said person also rode in a car during the Haku-Zabuza arc. However. When I'd read chapter 2 again, I admit I found myself weirded out also.

...Moot point, I know. Anyway. I tweaked the chapter, changed from car to horse carriage, and also fixed(and changed) a couple of sentences here and there. It's worth a re-read to me at least, and I sure hope you will take the time to read it over again. I'm a perfectionist, after all. -poses-

Next, I send my kudos to Smiter. He's a good guesser. He guessed this part three will be about making a new start in their lives, looking to the future...and he's right.

And as far as this chapter is concerned...well...I haven't much to say, except maybe hoping the bunch of you enjoying this as I did. And yes, I know this has taken me ages to post, despite the face I have finished this even ages ago. For that, I apologize.

And lastly...

My final thanks goes to SharinganK, who had taken the time to beta chapter 1 and 2, as well as the readers who took the time to drop a review. I appreciate it. Cheers.