Title: Heart of an Avenger

Author: Hitachiin Hikaru

Fandom: Naruto

Rating: "K" for fluffy SasukexSakura cuteness

Genre: Romance

Pairings: SakuSasu, implied others

Disclaimer: I don't own any part of the Naruto, including characters, cities, towns, scenarios, titles, or anything else about it that you can think of. I just want to express my creative intent with this fic.

Summary: Sasuke returns with Naruto from Orochimaru's grasp, ready to adapt to life in Konoha with his lust for revenge satiated. The first thing he wants to do is tell a certain medic ninja how he feels, realizing he missed her more than she knows. One Shot SakuSasu mainly, but others implied R&R please!

A/N: I've extended the time that Sasuke was gone for a little bit of emphasis. I hope it's not too much.

It had been a strange feeling, returning back to the village. All he had remembered while he was here was a strong sense of needing to get stronger and taking vengeance on his brother. Lighter, he found was the perfect term for how he felt now. His chest felt lighter, now that he wasn't so bent on revenge. It had been important, but now it was a piece of the past he could keep in the darkest part of his soul. His mind felt lighter, now that he was back home with the rest of Team seven. Before, they were just there to help him improve… but now, they were like family to him. Something he needed to treasure. His heart felt the lightest of all, when he saw her again after all these years. She had been what he thought of most while he was gone.

The crowd was large when he and the blond had returned. It consisted of people he hadn't seen in so long, some he liked and some not so much: Rock Lee, Hyuuga Hinata, Yamanaka Ino, Nara Shikamaru, Kakashi and Iruka-sensei, Tenten, everyone he had known as a child growing up. He scanned the entire crowd, searching desperately, but didn't see her at first, and felt disappointment washing over him. Ino had tapped his shoulder, pointing, and he turned. There she stood, looking more gorgeous than he has ever seen her. Now twenty, she grew into her forehead (he never really thought it was that big…) and her pink hair was longer that Ino's had been when they were twelve. She still wore her hitai-ate on top of her head, and a similar red dress that she sported when they were children. Their eyes met and he smiled. Surprisingly, she took a step back, and ran.

Sakura…

Naruto told him to give her a little time. It must have been heart wrenching for her to see him again after all of this time of hoping, waiting for his return. Sasuke had asked if she really wanted him to return that badly. The blond gave him a dirty look and told him duh, of course. The Uchiha felt terrible hearing that, knowing that he caused her so much pain by leaving. She told him she loved him before his departure, but it didn't have as much of an impact as it did now. His heart ached for her.

A lot of his friends welcomed him back, happy to see him back home. Lee and Gai had burst into tears and Hinata smiled at him cheerfully, giving him a small kiss on the cheek. He learned with surprise that she was Uzumaki Hinata now, with a little Uzumaki on the way, and that Tsunade had retired and Naruto had taken her place as the sixth Hokage. He discovered the hard way that things change when you've been gone for years. Shikamaru and Ino were engaged to be married, and he found out with amusement from Tenten even that arrogant loner Neji had the ability to feel love. It was amazing, with all this romance and affection and marriage throughout her friends, Sakura had never, ever dated anyone. Naruto explained that Lee had asked her innumerous times, but soon stopped, respecting her want to wait for Sasuke. Even Kiba had asked her once, but when he got shot down the first time gave up.

Sasuke felt a sense of relief knowing that she waited for him, but also a pang of guilt knowing that he had cost her love life to take a hit. He took the familiar path through the village to her house, looking around at the buildings. Truly, nothing there had changed much. It was so peaceful, and he felt so… at home. A bunch of people on the street welcomed him back, one of the boys he recognized to be Konohamaru with that little orange haired kunoichi. He smiled at them, glad to in Konohagakure once again. Knocking at the door to the Haruno residence, her mother told him she had moved out to her own apartment two years ago and gave him directions to get there (only after, first, scolding him for leaving, then showering him in hugs and gushing that she was so happy to see him alive and well).

On the way, he met up with Aburame Shino, who greeted him with his usual level of excitement, or lack thereof. He had heard that the Uchiha had come home, and was glad to see him back. Sasuke thanked him, and continued up the road, noting house numbers trying to find the complex that she lived in. Neji spotted him and waved with the usual smirk on his face. They shook hands, and the pearl eyed boy told him he'd have to see how much stronger he's gotten. Sasuke nodded in agreement, an identical grin on his on lips, and waved good-bye to the Hyuuga, but not before making a snide comment about him and Tenten. It got an uncharacteristic blush out of him and he laughed. Finally finding the complex and correct apartment number, he was unsure of what to do.

Eight years. He hasn't spoken to her in eight long, painful, heart broken years. Would she still want to talk to him? Naruto said she still liked him, but maybe… maybe the blond was wrong. Maybe Sakura just didn't want to say anything. He shook his head. This was stupid. How could he expect that after all this time she still liked him? Maybe if had seen it before he left… Maybe things would have been different. What an idiot he had been. Even Naruto, the densest person he knew, managed to see that Hinata liked him. Sighing, he turned to leave.

"Sasuke-kun?" His head snapped back to the door and he saw her standing there, smiling slightly, her hands entwined behind her back. The sight of her made his heart soar, and he felt an unfathomable sense of serenity by her very presence. "It's good to see you again."

Sasuke froze. He didn't know what to do, or what to say. But what can you do in a situation like this? What canyou say? He seemed to figure it out, for very suddenly he was next to her, his arms wrapped tightly against her back, nuzzling his nose into her neck.

"I missed you so much Sakura," he whispered. She felt irrational tears unexpectedly fill her eyes and spill hotly down her cheeks as she returned the embrace. "You wouldn't believe how much I missed you." His warm breath on her skin made her shiver, and she wasn't surprised to see that he still had the same effect on her as always. He was here, he was really here. Sakura could hardly believe it. She had been waiting for so long, pleading and wishing, praying that Naruto would finally bring him back. Bring him home.

She whimpered, "Sasuke! I'm so glad you're home." He had gotten a lot taller since he left. Before, she could've sworn she was at least an inch taller than he was, but now she barely reached his shoulder. His bangs were an inch or two past his chin, but still that gorgeous raven color she loved. He pulled back and his onyx eyes sparkled.

He asked, softly, "If I ask you something, will you answer me truthfully Sakura?"

"Of course," she replied, smiling brightly.

Sasuke ran a hand through her cherry colored hair, causing her cheeks to blush pink, making her lovelier than ever. "Do you… still love me? You told me you did before we parted." Her eyes widened and he felt his heart drop. Was this a sign she didn't…? Her smile widened, and his heart pounded again.

"Of course I do!" she told him firmly. He laughed and picked her up, spinning her around in the small hall that the apartment doors all connected to. Sakura blushed darker, holding unto his shoulders as he set her down and pressed a kiss to her lips.

He smiled mysteriously and said, "That's good. I would've been disappointed to come all this way only to find out you don't love me anymore." Sakura was shocked. Sasuke seemed so… what was the word? Happy, now. More open. More contented than she had ever seen him. The revenge off of his chest changed him dramatically, and it made her feel so… so joyful to see him this way. After years of seeing that tortured expression, the cold, crimson glare of the Sharingan, his painful obsession with revenge, his hardhearted demeanor, this change made her smile.

This was the Sasuke she had always known was there. The one she saw when he was just a child, the one that poked through when she brought him that basket of tomatoes, the one that kept disappearing behind each new wall he placed for her to overcome. Finally, the last barrier he had placed for her to conquer her he had torn down himself, and they had found each other at last. "You seem," she said, placing a tender kiss on his cheek, "with your revenge out of the way I mean, so much happier Sasuke."

He looked out of the window at the end of the hall with a thoughtful expression on his face. "In reality," he started, draping his arm around her shoulder, "when I finally got my revenge and killed my brother, I didn't feel all that happy." Sakura looked slightly surprised and Sasuke amended, "I mean it was satisfying and all. But it didn't make me all too happy at all. Actually…" A large smile graced him lips and she had to smile just looking at him. It was so weird… yet wonderful to see that kind of expression adorning his features.

"Actually… what?" she asked curiously when he didn't continue. His black eyes met her blue-green gaze. They were so soft, all of the sharpness gone from them.

He said, "The heart of an avenger is a hard thing to obtain, Sakura. An avenger has one goal and one goal only: punish he who did his loved ones wrong. Nothing can get in his way, not friendship, not family, not even love. Revenge was satisfying, but seeing you again… that I cannot put into words how grateful I am to Naruto for bringing me back to be with you."

"I'm so glad that he brought you back to me," she told him. She laughed heartily and Sasuke was suddenly eager to find out what she had to say. "I suppose a lifetime of ramen on us will have to show him how much we appreciate what he did." Then he laughed too, something she hasn't heard in a long, long time. It was cute, not too high, yet not too low. It was a perfect sound, and Sakura would never get tired of hearing it. And she had a funny feeling she would listen to it a lot in the future. Her future… with Uchiha Sasuke.

A/N: Maybe there's too much padding in this. I mean, not even a word of dialogue for, like, ever. Maybe Sasuke-kun was out of character. I assumed he would be a least a little bit happier when he gets back to Konoha. Maybe… oh I dunno, I'll let you guys decide!