Fandom: Naruto
Author: thatreevesgirl
Title: Always
Pairing: NaruSaku
Word Count: 2063
Rating: PG
Warning: definitely heavy on the WAFF, no real plot either (it is just a ficlet), imagined version of older Naruto and Sakura
Summary: Naruto finally confesses to Sakura, with a little help from her.


"This is pretty," Sakura was in awe with the reddened horizon. "Good spot, Naruto. You were right."

Naruto stayed quiet, unusual for him, but he was trying so hard to get this right—trying so hard to use only the perfect words he could never seem to find. Tonight, he was going to find them if it killed him. Instead of speaking, the blond man nodded his head in agreement and plopped down on a grassy part of the cliff. Sakura joined him a moment later, a wide grin on her lips as she poked her friend in the ribs and giggled about it when Naruto threw her a slightly annoyed look.

"I'm rubbing off on you, aren't I?" Naruto asked with a sigh, and added another one to his first when Sakura heartily agreed.

"Not a bad thing by any means, Naruto. I should be thanking you for all that 'rubbing off' over the years. I'd hate to think of what I'd be like these days if you hadn't."

"Trite and Sasuke-obsessed?" Naruto ventured.

Sakura smiled and ruffled his hair playfully. "Has my Hokage-sama been perusing the dictionary again?

"Naw, Gaara's always lecturing me during our diplomatic kage crap for using such unprofessional language, so I'm trying to change it. Trying, not always succeeding. I've tried to change a lot of things."

Sakura mused respectfully at Naruto for a moment, it was only a split second, but her admiration was obvious to even Naruto. Sakura turned to the sunset, then praised her friend a bit, "The job is changing you, Naruto, you're so much more…"

The pause Sakura gave was long and the world seemed suddenly and infinitesimally quiet to the Konohan leader. Naruto was hoping for a compliment, so he ventured one for her. "…Handsome? Responsible? Intelligent?"

"I was thinking strong," Sakura told him. Naruto flexed his biceps in a corny attempt to demonstrate her words, but Sakura only rolled her eyes at him. "Not there," she said poking his arms, "Here."

Naruto swallowed the lump in the back of his throat when Sakura touched his chest, right above his heart. "Just like any Hokage should be, Sakura," Naruto told her firmly. It was his belief that kages were the backbone of their respective villages. He would be Konoha's strength the best he could, through the good times and the bad.

Sakura leaned her head onto her hands, slouching as she enjoyed the sunset. "Just like I knew you would be. I guess I didn't always know, but…" Sakura stopped and looked Naruto straight in the eyes, "I've known for quite awhile. I believe in you."

Feeling like he would burst at the seams if he held his feelings in for a second longer, Naruto interrupted his friend with a flurry of words, not many of them making much semblance of sense. They were rushed and rambling, and Naruto knew it as they flew from his mouth. "Sakura for a long time, I just wanted you to know, everything, you, me, I just think that, we…me…you…"

Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! He had screwed it up again. His heart had overflowed and it came out in a rush of brain vomit on his tongue. Couldn't his brain and his heart sync up for one minute so he could tell Sakura how he really felt? Naruto was positive that her opinion of him now was probably "strong and moronic" if even that nice.

"Hmm, you know, I've gotten pretty good at Uzumaki translation in the past few years," Sakura interrupted. "As your Hokage-assistant, I had to. Some days your temper makes your tongue a bit…useless."

Naruto's nervous chuckle hid his embarrassment slightly, but the red tips of his ears definitely gave him away. He hadn't even known that she did such a thing. Did he really sound like an idiot that much of the time? Naruto hoped not.

"Okay, my powerful ninja-deciphering deductive skills tell me that you were saying something about you…" Sakura poked Naruto with her long, graceful finger again, but this time not hard, and her hand seemed to linger on him as she continued talking. "…and me? Am I correct so far?"

Naruto could only nod dumbly.

"There was a 'we' in there somewhere too, so I assume it had to do with us?"

Naruto's cheeks flushed slightly as he nodded again. Sakura smiled at him warmly and reached over and took Naruto's hand in her own, twining her fingers with his.

"You plus me equals us? You were telling me that you wanted you and me to be an us?"

Okay, so Sakura knew what he was thinking (for the most part), and she was holding his hand in hers, so that was a good sign, right? "Good ninja-deductive skills, I was planning on it being a bit more…um, eloquent than that though," Naruto murmured quietly.

"Okay, then, try again."

Naruto did just that. As he spoke he took the hand that was wrapped in hers and brought it to his lips, kissing her fingertips lightly before resting their hands upon his heart. "You are my everything, Sakura. Thank you for believing in me, and I do want for us to be an…uh…us."

Not perfect, but better, Naruto thought. Then he noticed that Sakura was smiling again, and Naruto appreciated the good sign.

However, Sakura's response wasn't yes or anything of the sort. She just quipped a quick, "Twenty-two," like that explained everything to Naruto. The young Hokage was very confused, and his eyebrows scrunched into a confused look as he pondered her words. It made Sakura laugh. Her laugh was so charming to Naruto, it was probably the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.

"That is how many times you have dragged me off to some place alone and tried to confess to me," Sakura admitted sheepishly.

Naruto didn't try to count all the failed attempts he had made to admit his feelings to her, but he was sure that twenty-two was a fairly accurate number. Quirking one eyebrow up, Naruto narrowed his eyes at the lovely woman beside him. "Waaaait a minute, you knew? How could you have known all this time and not said anything about it?"

"Don't whine, Naruto," Sakura interjected, then gripped his fingers tightly in her own. "Sometimes a girl just wants to be romanced. And sometimes she decides she's just tired of waiting, and takes said romancing into her own hands."

"Hrm?" Naruto grunted, but his confusion wasn't long lived because Sakura's soft lips brushed his cheek as she gave him a light kiss, but didn't pull away.

"Are you going to kiss me now, or do I have to be in charge of initiating that too?"

Naruto stared at her wide-eyed. A playful smirk was on Sakura's lips, and her eyes glinted such a particularly interesting shade of evil, a good kind of evil, but evil nonetheless. "What part of your little scheme to put me through all this humiliation for a little romance deserves a kiss?" Naruto shot back, unable to keep the corners of his lips from curling upward into a grin.

"The part where I waited nearly four months for you to spit it out, and you haven't yet. Therefore, I am getting that kiss, whether you want to give it or not."

Sakura was a strong kunoichi, and very quick, so it was no surprise to Naruto when she successfully tackled him and pinned him to the ground below. He never figured Sakura would be a submissive kind of girl, but the fact that his wrists were held securely by her hands made him wonder for a second what he'd gotten himself into, that was until Sakura kissed him. Then Naruto didn't really care what kind of trouble he was in with Sakura. This was definitely a good kind of trouble.

Her lips were so soft compared to his, and her motions very gentle. Naruto reveled in the sweetness of their first real kiss, then took it over and kissed her hard; passionately. Naruto wasn't that good with words, he was more of an action kind of guy. He showed Sakura what he couldn't say or express verbally, and she accepted it, completely.

Pulling away from the maniacally grinning blond, Sakura straddled his stomach, releasing his hands and let out a contented sigh as she watched the last bit of the sun fall behind the horizon. The dusky purple was already settling into the skyline. Sakura cupped Naruto's cheek and murmured, "Idiot…why do I love such an idiot?" playfully and kissed him chastely.

"Because this idiot loves you back, and would do anything for you," Naruto told her as Sakura nuzzled her face into the crook of his neck. Naruto's arms wrapped around the woman atop him and held her smaller frame to his own, gripping her possessively like he never wanted to let go. "Anything," he repeated again.

"Oh, is that right?" The timbre of Sakura's giggle was reassuring to the man beneath her, "Even if I asked you to…" Sakura couldn't think of a very good test of Naruto's feelings, so she jokingly added, "Shave your head bald?"

"Yep. I'd even polish it and make it shine for you if you asked." Naruto's fingers locked on Sakura's hips, and urged her up from his chest, at least enough so that their eyes could meet again. Very solemnly, Naruto looked into her face. "But…I am the Hokage, Sakura. You know what that means, right?"

"I'm your assistant, of course I know what that means. I watched two Hokages die from protecting this village, so I understand. Being Hokage is your dream, and I know that there is nothing in the world that you want more than that."

Naruto broke his gaze free of Sakura's eyes. He couldn't admit this next part to her with those jade depths peering into him. "I want one thing more than I want the position of Hokage, but I know that I have to be Hokage. I can't put my own desires before the safety of the village, even if I've loved her since I was twelve."

Sakura actually believed that Naruto's feelings as a young man had been merely a childish crush. Over the years their feelings had grown and matured for each other, so she wasn't sure that she believed what Naruto was saying. Had he really loved her since they were kids?

Naruto had this uncanny ability to read your mind. Not really read your mind, but he was immensely intuitive when he needed to be. "Want to know the truth, Sakura?" She nodded, and Naruto continued. "I often wondered if I could really fall in love after I found out about the Kyuubi. I thought maybe the demon inside me made me unable to really have those kinds of feelings. Then there was this girl, and she was strong and beautiful and ready to give what I wasn't sure I had, even if it wasn't to me back then," Naruto admitted with a roll of his eyes. "But I could see that her heart was incomplete. She couldn't see how great she was, and the people around her who she adored couldn't see it either…but I saw it. Love is always so small when it begins, when it is just a seed in your heart; but it grows Sakura, so much and so fast that you can't even begin to understand it. I don't love you now like I loved you then, but I have…"

Sakura silenced Naruto with her lips, trying her best to hide the tears that were falling from her eyes. The kiss communicated everything that she couldn't say, because Naruto had once been a foolhardy and obstinate boy, but had grown into a man to love and admire. Sakura was grateful that he was stubborn to a fault, or he might have given up on her years ago. Naruto sighed into Sakura's mouth contentedly and finished the words he had been saying to her in his head as he kissed Sakura back:

I have always loved you Sakura, always.


End of One-Shot