-1Author's Notes: So here's my NaruSaku fiction for Heaven&Earth's Valentine's Day contest! The keyword I chose was 'candlelight', and I actually had more fun with it than I thought I would. Make sure to review my lovelies!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto; what the French toast.
Maybe we're just being dumb
Maybe it's time that stopped and we realized
Like a flag in the wind we are one
And how at first it's made so pure and lovely
But in battle can be torn to shreds
But with time and with patience and love and affection
Can be fixed with needle and thread
Because I love you and do you love me
And nothing will make this leave.
She was sore. Her entire body told her so, nagging at her relentlessly despite her efforts to massage out the kinks in her muscles. A familiar tap, tap, tap from the kitchen sink greeted her as she entered her dark apartment, the air still and cold. The girl tossed her keys onto the magazine riddled coffee table, the light switch a nuisance to flick since she was just going to shower and collapse into bed anyway. Her boots were kicked off to the corner, medical bag thrown to the couch, with her coat strewn over its arm. Those tired emerald eyes let the image of her empty home sink in until the sadness she had grown accustomed to swept over her.
The months without him were insipid, unremarkable…disheartening, as if all the hope had gone from the world.
Shaking her head out of the repetitive daydream she came to notice the candle in her front window remained unlit. A box of matches beside it was ajar, nearly empty from all the ones she had previously struck. Reaching in and plucking the closest one she could find, she ran it quickly along the packages edge, its sudden flame dancing excitedly as it was touched to the wick. Her eyes became unfocused as she stared at the glow until a face in the street below was staring up at her, a gaze that triggered a gasp as she fumbled to unhitch the window's lock and shove the panes open. With half of her body and all of her heart hung out of that opening, she came to realize it had only been a figment of her hopelessly hopeful imagination; oh, if only it had been real.
The window was closed and locked once more, the candle remaining optimistic as it flickered on the sill. She looked at it as if it were mocking her then inwardly cursed at herself for being annoyed with a candle.
"I think you'd be a lot more useful in the field, Sakura," the blonde quipped matter-of-factly before slurping up another handful of udon noodles.
This scene was apart of their daily routine; wake up, train together, dine at Ichiraku for lunch before setting off in opposite directions for the rest of the day. Today's conversation was slightly gloomier than usual though.
"My skills would be in a lot less danger and a lot more useful here, Naruto," she replied as if it was the end of the conversation; her longtime teammate, as usual, missed the hint.
"Are you insane? I know we don't go on missions together anymore, but your punches can be heard for miles around!"
"I am a medic-nin first and a fighter second, Naru--"
"It would be just like olds times, well, not exactly like old times--"
"…and then Kiba and Shikamaru, maybe even Lee--"
"Naruto if I get killed out there then all of my medical training will have been a waste!" Sakura finally shouted, breaking the jinchuuriki out of his nostalgic babbling with wide blue eyes. Her gloved hands clenched on the counter, wanting so badly to avoid the route their conversation was about to take.
"Sakura chan, I didn't mean," the blonde began, that cerulean gaze showing the utmost concern.
"I hate all of this. This stupid war. Everyone being sent in different directions, without even a whisper of a goodbye." She roughly wiped the tears from her face, angry that they were coming involuntarily. "I'm lucky I haven't woken up to find you missing." The kunoichi said bitterly.
The boy watched her in silence, having learned that she did not like to be soothed in these situations. It was in hope that she would seem strong to the others around her, when in fact, it made her appear completely fragile. Naruto sighed, laying his chopsticks across his empty bowl.
"I can't refuse to leave, Sakura, and it just wouldn't help to become pessimistic about the whole thing." He answered honestly, leaving out the part about him staying if she only said the word.
"Don't not come back."
"What?" Her sudden statement caught him off guard, turning on his stool to face her.
"If you leave, and don't come back, I don't know what I'm going to--"
Naruto wouldn't let her finish what she wanted to say, instead his arms wrapped around her shoulders, pulling Sakura's small frame against his chest tightly. She tensed in his hold, shoving her fists into his jacket and pushing as hard as she could.
"Stop it, Naruto! Let go of me!" Sakura sobbed but he only tightened their embrace.
"I wouldn't leave you alone, Sakura. I never want you to know what that feels like," he whispered into her hair, that serious gaze looking out to the street hiding an underlying sadness. The kunoichi relaxed under his hold, her fists now clutching his jacket in two twisted bundles of cloth.
"You'll come back," she whispered in reply.
"I'll come back to you." His voice level matched hers, settling his chin against the cool metal of her headband. "Will you be here when I do?"
Naruto's one question held several underlying ones for the kunoichi, but Sakura was not a fool; that single inquiry laid it all out for her in black and white. She remained silent in the next few moments, the heartbeat against her ear kept its steady rhythm despite their intimate position; the blonde was stronger than her in more ways than one.
"For every night that you aren't here…" her head turned to rest her forehead against his chest, "…I'll put a candle in my window, so that you know I'm here, waiting for you."
In the years that had passed their relationship had grown close, closer than everyone knew it to be since all the intimacies were kept secret from the world. At that moment the boy did not care. As his heart constricted with sudden anguish, he bit back his tears and forced Sakura from his body to find her gaze was just as damp. Without a chance to utter a word her arms were thrown around his neck and she was kissing him desperately, with warm tears trickling down both pairs of cheeks.
The next morning he was gone.
The warm water ran over her body as she stood below the showerhead, lost in her reminiscence. Slowly soreness faded into exhaustion; exhaustion from running the hospital, from coming home to the same empty apartment every night, from just missing him. The pipes shuddered as Sakura shut off the water, fingertips lingering on the door handle as she stepped out onto the tile. Leaving her hair damp and untamed, she quickly dried off and slipped into her pajamas before walking out into the darkness of her living room. She stood in the doorjamb leading to her room, casting one last look at her candlelit window that remained bright and hopeful and everything that Sakura wasn't.
Her steps were quiet as she strode towards her bed of tangled sheets; she didn't even bother making it anymore. The kunoichi settled back into the many pillows, pulling the comforter to her chest and exhaling deeply from the severely missed comfort. Those green eyes stayed focused on the ceiling, fading back into her thoughts and remembering all the reasons she had felt so alone these passing months. With a steady flow of tears rolling over her cheeks, her eyes fell shut and that nagging fatigue forced her to sleep.
The flame of the candle quivered in the window, a sudden nervousness possessing it as it danced in plain view of the street below. Cerulean eyes watched it curiously, unable to suppress the smile spreading across his face at the surprise of finding that candlelight still in the window after all this time. Walking up the familiar steps to her door he was also happy to find it unlocked, but made sure to do the opposite when he closed it behind him. The candle was waving at him, its flame swirling and swaying and begging for him to come near. He smirked and hooked a finger through the loop on the base of its holder, carrying it towards the bedroom as quietly as possible. The glow barely revealed Sakura's sleeping form, but as it was set on her bedside table the girl's distress read all over her face.
His eyes ran down the dried tear streaks, over her now soft bangs, curled at the end from not being combed through. He paused at those slightly parted lips and then back up to her eyes, noticing that the ends of her lashes just barely brushed against the top of her cheeks. Slowly he began to undress, his jacket and shirt dropping softly onto the floor beside the bed until all he was left in was his undergarment. Pulling back the edges of the sheets the blonde was careful to hover over the kunoichi without making it known. He remained above her on his hands and knees, unsure of how to wake her calmly…and then that heavily missed emerald gaze was staring back at him as if lost to a dream.
In the soft glow of candlelight, her fingers slid over his sun-kissed cheeks. She brushed her thumbs across the fading whisker marks as he moved in closer to touch her lips with his; this sensation once forgotten now came flooding back. Sakura had no energy left for tears at the very moment crying seemed the proper thing to do; instead Naruto was crying for her. She felt his body shudder and then two warm droplets hit her face, sliding down her cheeks and over her chin.
Her lips trembled as they pulled into a smile, softly brushing his oncoming tears away with the pad of her thumbs. Their foreheads rested against each other, the blonde swallowing the lump in his throat as they became tangled under Sakura's now warm sheets.
"Tadaima…" his words ghosted over her lips, making her shiver.
As she nuzzled his jaw and settled her head under the crook of his chin, she realized the weight on her chest had finally lifted, leaving behind a warmth only Naruto could provide.
"Okaeri…" she replied as her eyes fluttered shut, drifting to sleep with a smile gracing her lips.
Beside the bed the candle flame twinkled, just as content as the two in bed…if not happier.
"Tadaima…" Basically, "I'm home…".
"Okaeri…" Roughly, "Welcome back…" or "Welcome home…".
Author's Notes: Thought it was going to end up sad, huh? Well you were wrooooong. I hope you liked it, it was my first NaruSaku fiction so I hope I didn't disappoint anyone too much. Please review!
Until next time!