Theme: # 20 - the road home.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

---Welcome Home---

It's such a nice day today. The weather's so perfect, and I have the whole day off. The pink-haired beauty strolled leisurely through the market, taking her sweet time to pick up a few groceries for the next week's dinners.

The tomatoes look really good today. Stopping by the vendor's stall, Sakura picked one up and gave it a little squeeze, before dropping it into a paper bag. Maybe I'll have some pasta with them tonight, she thought as she reached for another one. Or I could just eat them raw. Just the way… Sasuke-kun did.

It was disturbingly weird. Even after all these years, not one day went by without her thoughts of him. Wherever he is, I hope he's happy with his life. Even if… I'm not a part of that life.

"Sakura-chan! Sakura-chan!"

People's heads were starting to turn as the loud-mouthed blonde ninja raced down the street. The crowd parted to give Naruto a wide berth; no one wanted to have one of Konoha's top shinobi crash into him. – injuries would be inevitable.

Just as he was almost there, he suddenly tripped, flew into the air, and fell flat on his face in front of her.

"Oww…. That hurts." Naruto mumbled out as he looked up into Sakura's amused face, as she paid the vendor, before lifting the brown bag of groceries into her arms. She flashed him a grin as he frowned and rubbed his head.

"I would assume so; you just fell down face first. But," Sakura began. "What exciting news caused you to—"

Gripping both her shoulders, Naruto cut her off excitedly, "The teme's back!"

The bag fell from Sakura's grasp, its contents spilling out onto the ground.


What? He's back? He's… finally back? Sakura's mind wasn't functioning properly. So many thoughts were swirling through her mind. So many memories. So many… painful memories.

Mistaking her silence for confusion, Naruto ventured, "Umm… Sakura-chan, you know who I'm talking about, right?"

No response.

"Sakura-chan? Are you okay? You look kind of faint? Do you want to sit down? Can you still hear me? Are you going to pass out? Please don't pass out. Sasuke-teme's going to kill me if that happens. And I still have my whole life ahead of me! Sakura-chan?!"

Naruto's frantic hand motions must have caught her attention, for she blinked and then bent down to gather her dropped purchases. Taking care to keep all emotion out of her voice, she asked, "What about it?"

Naruto just stared.

Standing back up, she looked at him with what she hoped was an annoyed expression. "Well? He's back. How does that affect me?"


"What?" Running a hand through her silken tresses, her voice took on an edge of exasperation and something Naruto wasn't able to pinpoint. Could it be anger? Had Sakura finally snapped?

Snapping out of his stupor, Naruto tried to soothe her. "Sakura-chan, I just thought that…"

"Why are you telling me this? So I could whisk myself over to him, only to be shot down again by a cold-hearted bastard who doesn't give a damn about me?!"

Eyes flashing angrily and tears started to form, Naruto realized just how hard Sakura had tried to put Sasuke behind her. It wasn't fair that she had to suffer for eight long years, pining after an Uchiha who was bent on revenge. And just when she started to believe that she could live without ever seeing him again, he had to force his way back into her life.

Brushing off the blonde ANBU captain's concerned look, Sakura resumed her walk down the street. Although this time, she wasn't relaxed. Not at all. Far from it; her shoulders were tense, and her lips were pressed into a thin trembling line.

Catching up to her with ease, Naruto asked, "Aren't you going to see him?"

"Why would I want to do that?"

"He's hurt, you know. Fighting Itachi is bound to leave some injuries."

He beat Itachi. So that's why he came back. Bastard.

Inner Sakura chirped cheerfully, 'But a super hot bastard.'

You're supposed to be on my side. And I'm surprised that you aren't totally pissed off that he had the nerve to come back.

'Well, weren't you pining after him all these years? I'm surprised that you aren't happy that he's finally back, safe and sound.'

Things have changed.

'Oh please. You're still as much in love with him as before, if not more so.'

I'm NOT in love with him!

'Denial. That's a very normal human defense mechanism. Now, skedaddle your precious little self over to the hospital!'

NO! Why does everyone want me to do that?! Can't you see that I'm over –

"Sakura-chan?" The persistent tugging of her arm stopped her from walking any further.

"I'm on my day off. I have no obligation to see him. Go get Tsunade-shishou to heal him. I don't care. Just leave me alone."

"But Sakura-chan… He asked for you."


"Lacerations on the arms, legs, and torso; 3 broken ribs; and a torn ligament in the ankle," Tsunade frowned. "Otherwise, you seem to be perfectly fine. I am going to keep you in here for another month, until you're fully healed."

Not taking his eyes off his orange book, the copy-nin asked, "What about his punishment?"

"Punishment?" His voice was slightly hoarse, as if he hadn't used it for ages.

Her brown eyes regarded him with grim amusement. "Of course, Uchiha. Please tell me you know that you've been a missing-nin for quite some time. Punishment is unavoidable."

"I wouldn't worry too much," Kakashi's bored voice broke in. "You won't get the death sentence… or anything too extreme, for that matter."

Tsunade whirled around and glared fiercely at Kakashi. "And why not? He's a traitor to Konoha. Look what he's done to Naruto. Look at what he's done to…"

Sakura. The name never left her mouth, but Sasuke knew exactly who she was talking about.

"Well, for one thing, Naruto would never allow it. He'd smuggle Sasuke out faster than you can blink. Sakura would probably jump off a cliff, and Konoha would lose one of its top medic-nins. Not to mention, Sasuke still has his army of fangirls at his disposal."


"…Kakashi. Stop talking." Stupid man. Sasuke needs to be justly punished. Especially after all that crap he pulled.

"Hai, hai, Hokage-sama." He turned back to his orange book and immediately immersed himself in the conflict between Junko and Hiroshi.

The door opened.

"Tsunade baa-chan! What are you doing here!" Everyone winced slightly as the ear-piercing cry resonated against the thin hospital walls.

"OW! OW! You old fart, what are you doing?!" cried Naruto as Tsunade mercilessly tugged at his ear.

"This is a hospital, fool," she hissed. "Don't you know that you're supposed to be quiet in a hospital?"

She then turned to Sakura, sounding rather surprised. "Today's your day off. I didn't think that you would come to the hospital. But you're here to see Sasuke, of course."

"Hai," said Sakura meekly. Damn it. How could his presence reduce her to such a state again? She felt as if she was twelve years old, worried about her appearance, and clinging onto every word that her precious Sasuke-kun uttered.

What a sad day this is, she thought miserably while looking at the ground, unwilling to meet Sasuke's piercing stare. That the apprentice of one of the legendary Sannin would lose her nerve and forget everything she's learned over the years, just because he came back.


Sakura… She had changed. Changed so much that he couldn't see the girl in her anymore. Those expressive jade eyes were now downcast, hidden by her pink bangs. How he wished to see those eyes again. How he wished that she would look at him.

Tsunade started talking to him again, something about the council and how he would appear before them once he was healed, but he tuned her out. All of his focus was on his former pink-haired teammate.

Her slender arms were wrapped around herself, as she shifted from one foot to the other, biting her lip nervously. Adorable… Sasuke thought, before he mentally slapped himself. Adorable? What the hell am I thinking? This was Sakura we're talking about.

He continued to look unabashedly at her. Though I have to admit, I haven't seen a kunoichi look this hot in years. Another mental slap. Think of how good-looking our kids are going to be. Slap. And how fun it'll be to make them. Slap. Slap.

The mental slaps would have kept coming forever, but Tsunade's irritated voice broke into his increasingly lecherous thoughts. "Uchiha, are you listening to me?"

Cool onyx eyes surveyed her with a look of displeasure. "Yes, Hokage-sama."

"While I'm sure Sakura is quite the eye candy you've been missing all these years, I would appreciate it if you would at least keep your ears open, since you seem to be incapable of tearing your eyes off of her."


Chuckles from Naruto and Kakashi.

Silence from Sakura.

Damn. His scowl deepened. Why wouldn't she look at him? What was so interesting about the hospital floor anyways.

"Well, I'll leave you to your rest." With that said, the fifth Hokage swept out of the room.

Kakashi motioned to Naruto and Sakura. "Let's go. Sasuke needs some quiet time." His eye crinkled into a smile as he gave Sasuke a wordless wave.

"Bye Sasuke-teme! Hurry up and get better so I can crush you with my rasengan!"

Scoff. "You wish, dobe."

"What did you say! How dare you say that to the future Ho–"

"Lower your voice, Naruto. Other people are resting."

"Gomen, Kakashi-sensei. See you later, Sasuke!"


She still hasn't looked at me, thought Sasuke, as the three began filing out. Is she ever going to acknowledge my return?

"Wait, Sakura."

She paused at his words and turned around, careful to not meet his gaze. "Yes?"

"Stay for a while."

She froze.

She gave Naruto a desperate look, but he grinned and flashed her a thumbs up before disappearing from sight.

Now it was Sakura and Sasuke.

A long silence ensued.

'Say something!' Inner Sakura screamed.

Like what?! 'Hi, Sasuke-kun. How are you doing? Are you glad you got your revenge? Are you happy? Do you know how many tears I cried for you? Oh gee, there must have been over a million, but I forgot, you don't care."

'Well… If that's really the best you got, then go ahead.'

You're not helping.


Unconsciously, she shivered. The way her name rolled off his tongue just sounded so… so right. The way he said it in his low husky tenor – it was the way she wanted to hear it everyday.

"Sakura, come over here."

She took two small steps. Feeling his eyes narrow, she gradually made her way to his bedside in slow and tiny steps.

"Look at me, Sakura."

The unusual gentleness in his tone caused her head to snap up. His face was devoid of emotion, just like hers had been a while ago, but his gaze was smoldering. Was she losing her eyesight? To her, it seemed as if his stare was full of… want. I must be dreaming, she thought as she blushed under his unwavering scrutiny.

Satisfied and quite pleased by the growing pink adorning her cheeks, Sasuke let a lazy smirk stretch across his face.

"Well, Sakura, aren't you going to welcome me back?" he drawled while leaning back into propped up pillows.

Instantly, the blush disappeared from her face to be replaced with an angry glare. How dare he. Who does he think he is, that he can just waltz in my life again, and expect me to be submissive to his every whim? He has no right to assume that I'll let him off the hook without any sort of…

'Ah, but you will. Go on. Go give him a proper welcome.' Inner Sakura said suggestively.

Yeah right. Like hell I'll do that.

She bit out vehemently, "Excuse me? Why would I ever do that?"

Oddly enough, he liked this new side of her. Feisty. Alluring. Beautiful.

"Why not?"

"Because you're a traitor! You betrayed us! You can't just leave us for eight years and come back and expect us to welcome you with open arms, as if you didn't do anything wrong. Do you have any idea how much pain you caused us? How much pain you caused… me?"


"You don't care huh. You don't care about any of us. You don't care how many injuries Naruto suffered trying to retrieve you. You don't care how much pain I went through, thinking of you. All you care about is your revenge. Well, now you got it. Are you finally happy?"


Interpreting his silence as confirmation, Sakura turned away, heart heavy. He had come back, but he hadn't changed at all. He wasn't worth her time, but why… why oh why did she still long for him?

A calloused hand reached out and grabbed hold of her slim wrist.

"Don't go."

He's so warm. thought Sakura. How someone as cold as him could radiate such heat was a mystery.

The hand kept pulling her until she found herself sitting on the hospital bed, Sasuke's face just an inch from her own.

She eep-ed and tried to move away, the blush back on her face, but his hand was like an iron grip around her wrist.

She watched in open fascination as his hand slowly lifted up and rested tenderly against her cheek.

"Sakura, I'm…"

He gently stroked her cheek, enjoying how Sakura turned as red as the tomatoes she had been looking at this morning.

Her mouth opened, but he cut her off. "I'm sorry, Sakura." Not waiting to hear anything else, Sasuke leaned forward, and covered her mouth with his.

Too shocked to do anything, Sakura just sat there frozen, but Sasuke forged ahead anyways. He let go of her wrist and encircled her waist, pulling her closer to him. He sucked hungrily on her lower lip; his hand reaching up to tangle itself in her silky locks. Timidly, her hand crept up his chest, as she pressed herself closer to him.

Inner Sakura cheered and started doing cartwheels as his tongue swept across her lower lip before carefully entering her mouth.

Finally, he pulled away, his harsh breathing filling the room. She looked dazed, but her eyes were brighter than anything he had ever seen before. He decided that this was the way he wanted her to look every single day, with her hair slightly mused from his nimble fingers and her lips swollen from his ministrations. But most of all, he wanted to see that genuine smile that had made its way across her face.

She looked… happy.

And surprisingly, that meant everything to him.

"Ne, Sasuke-kun…"

He dropped a quick kiss on her lips as he leaned his forehead against hers.


"Welcome home."


AN: These one-shots are going to be based on the 30 kisses themes. I don't know if I'm actually going to submit them to a 30 kisses livejournal group. We'll see.