Title: A New Era
Disclaimer: I have no rights to any of the characters that are depicted in this story cries in her emo corner
She let a night's breeze play with her pink hair before shutting the bedroom window. Sakura knew it was somewhere between really late or early morning when she finally left the lab. Her eyes were strained from reading ancient medical books and her fingers cramped from rewriting instructions into newer files. It was tedious work especially since some of the biological terminology had changed over time and they too had to be converted. Sakura knew that she looked as tired as she felt which was why she was so glad to find her husband sleeping so soundly when she got home.
Lee of course had seen her after a long day working at the lab and her current condition was nowhere near as bad as it could be. Although no matter the way she did return he was always happy to see her and on most nights had a hot meal and sometimes a bath ready for her.
He had his nights, though they were rare, when all he wanted was a meal and bed soon after returning to their apartment. One morning she found his side of the bed empty and later found him sprawled out on the couch obviously lacking the energy to go upstairs to their bedroom the previous night. She took that as an opportunity to take some candid shots of him for her scrapbook. She understood his fatigue because he put just as many hours in day that she did once he was finished his morning routine. Sometimes one of them would be on a mission and come home ragged but such was the life of a ninja.
Secretly she was convinced that he worked much harder than she did. He never fully revealed the extents of his daily training to her. Lady Tsunade had assigned Sakura to watch over him while he was recuperating. Every afternoon she would watch him repeatedly punching and kicking at the training posts. One afternoon in particular she dared to get just a bit closer and could actually hear what she thought was a battle chant.
"If can do a hundred punches then Sakura-chan will go on a date with me, and if I can not then I will do two hundred kicks," he said each time his fist made contact.
She watched bewildered and wonder vaguely why he thought the amount of punches he was able to do would ultimately change her mind. He was oblivious to her as he continued to pour his heart into the remaining fifty, thirty, ten, four, three, two punches that remained. Lee held his trembling arm in midair but didn't move it.
"What is the point?" He dropped his arm, "Sakura-chan will never even acknowledge me."
Her eyes opened wide as something twisted in her heart. Never had she seen him look so defeated even when his body had been mulled by Gaara's sand. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"From now on I'm going to be nicer to Lee."
"Are you crazy?" he inner self shouted.
Sakura ignored the voice and left the training ground to collect her thoughts. There had to be something that she could do for the green clad ninja.
The following afternoon Sakura walked into the clearing to find Lee already working on his post. She thought she had the confidence to this but now she was at a lost for words. Maybe she really didn't need any words. He had heard her steps and turned to see her standing at the edge of the clearing watching him.
"How long has she been there?" he wondered to himself trying to find something to say but she spoke up first.
"Hello Lee, um I accidentally made two lunches and it's really too much for me to eat by myself. Could I impose on you to share them with me?"
He looked around to make sure she was really addressing him. Maybe he had fallen asleep while training again, his fingers did feel slightly numb. While he was staring at her dumbfounded she had walked over and sat down next to where he was standing. She tugged on his pant leg and pulled him to the ground where she was sitting. He took the box when she pushed it into his hands. It felt real to him even the chopsticks that she had given to him.
After a few moments of silence Sakura spoke to him, "You'll recover faster if you eat," and to empathize her point she pushed some boiled egg into his mouth with her chopsticks.
Manly tears trailed down his cheeks, "This is not a dream! Sakura-chan is actually here sharing lunch with me that she made herself!"
"Well, my mom did help,' Sakura let a grin reach her mouth as he started to eat on his own. It soon became a daily habit for them to eat lunch together and it didn't take long for Sakura to learn that she enjoyed his company. However, she still couldn't prevent herself from thinking random thoughts about his goofy appearance.
When they were first married they would wake up together before the sun rose. Lee would leave for his daily workout and Sakura played her role as a doting housewife by making breakfast and their lunches. When he came home they would eat together before he would run off to the academy to teach and her to the lab. Those days happened much less now because she was finding it harder to roll out of bed in the morning. It was becoming common practice to find him in the kitchen already making breakfast. Sometimes if she was lucky she would wake to find him still in the shower. Those were the mornings she liked most of all although they always seemed to run late on those days.
She tugged her clothes off thankful that she didn't have the reek of dried herbs on her as she pulled her nightclothes one. Gently, she pulled the covers back and crawled under them. Her cautions were silly because in his given state an earthquake would not wake him. She breathed him in as she snuggled into his neck. Feeling his chest rise and fall lulled her into a doze. Sakura felt fingertips brush her cheek. She raised her eye lids just enough to catch Lee smiling at her. With her eyes slightly more open she returned his smile.
"Did I wake you?" he asked. She shook her head. He grinned at her, "I'm sorry, I tried to wait up for you."
She curled up to his body, "It's okay." He smiled and returned to stroking her hair as sleep captured her again.
The smell of breakfast cooking told her that Lee had returned from his morning routine. Staying in bed was a very pleasing idea but she knew if she didn't make an appearance soon she would hear all about wasting her youth away by sleeping in.
With practiced grace she flung the covers off as her feet found the floor. Her body followed her feet down the hallway and to the top of the stairs. She heard Lee's voice over the radio and she was sure that if she leaned over the banister he would be dancing along with the music. It wasn't easy sneaking up behind Lee even when he was so obliviously distracted. Even being a ninja didn't always help her.
She soundlessly crept down the stairs and down the hallway. Then she peeked into the kitchen and fortunately he had his back to her. Her hand latched onto her mouth to restrain herself from laughing out loud. She ducked when he briefly looked over his shoulder. There was a confused look on his face because he was sure he had heard something. With a shrug he continued to rinse out a bowl he had been washing.
Sakura took a few deep breaths to try to regain her control. It was amazing how giggly she got after a good night's rest. She wanted to share her, dare she say it, 'youthful' mood with him. Her choice of words caused another stream of giggles. With a gasp she ducked down again to avoid being seen.
Without a glance Lee put the bowl in the drain board and started on a plate. She got on toes in preparation for a sprint. She froze watching his shoulders and back muscles move under his clothes and a slight shiver ran through her body as memories started to flood her mind.
His arms around her waist as her arms clung around his neck. He breathed into her ear, and then she would pull his mouth back to hers until dizziness would settle over her mind. She would tremble as he moved his hand up her back so he could hold her head and play with her hair. Her own fingertips would move to his ears and rub the skin behind them. He in turn would pull her body closer to his own so much that hers was consumed by his body heat. Both of their breaths came in short rasps as they explored the other's body with their fingertips and lips.
She was tingling at the memory but soon realized that her feet had fallen asleep while she had been crouched in the hallway. It was now or never. She jumped up and made a beeline for him. He noticed the sound of her feet coming towards him and turned just in time to see a blur of pink crash into him. Surprise took him and the wet floor prevented him from being able to stand firm from the collision. They both slid down to the kitchen floor.
Sakura laughed all the way down and even after they hit the floor. He found her laughter catchy and couldn't help joining in after he landed on top of her. Her fit persisted even after he had stopped.
"She looks so cute like that," he thought to himself.
She calmed herself and giggled, "Good morning."
A wave of affection rushed over him as he saw a familiar look of fain innocence cover her features. Lee couldn't help himself when he wrapped his arms around her and squeezed. His affections were returned just as enthusiastically.
"Well, good morning to you too," he said huskily in her ear as a shiver ran done her spine. Their noses touched before he kissed her warmly.
He helped to pull her back up to her feet. The floor was still wet from washing the dishes although most of it had been absorbed by their clothing. She shook her arms slightly to get the slimy, soapy feeling off of her.
"Here," he took a wash rag with warm water and tried to wash it off. She had the look of a small child that had come inside after spending time playing with dirt as he rubbed her arms. He bit his lip to prevent himself from laughing at her pouting face. He kissed her forehead and pulled her into a hug, "You better take a shower before you go to the lab this morning," he said into her hair.
She drew circles on his chest with her finger; "Want to wash my back for me?"
His cheeks went pink. He was used to her constant teasing but she still could catch him off guard with some of her comments.
"Um, I think that would make..." her thumb ran along his bottom lip, "us both late for work," he finished with some difficulty. Her fingers had moved to the back of his neck and were playing with his hair. He caught a whiff of her hair as she moved even closer to him, "And there is so much grading," he could feel her breath on his cheek, "a-and tests to give." Lee was failing terribly and he knew it.
A loud and rather annoying voice filled their kitchen, "So early in the morning and already going at it?"
They both looked over to see a familiar knuckle-headed ninja standing outside their kitchen window.
"Naruto!" Sakura exclaimed, "When did you get back into town?"
He grinned at her, "Something like around an hour ago."
"Here have breakfast with us and then you and Sakura can go to the tower. I'm afraid I have to leave early this morning because we are having a field trip today. Naruto, you do not mind keeping her company in my stead?"
The former teammates grinned at each other, "No, I don't mind. I have to file my mission report anyway." He said while climbing though the window.
"Naruto! Use the front door," Sakura yelled while he was already halfway in.
"Because you'll get our floor dirty with your shoes," she said trying to push him back out.
"Then I'll take them off here."
"Like hell you will."
Lee watched them and for only a moment they appeared to be twelve years old again. The image was humorous because that was nearly ten years ago. Ah well, a hundred years could go by and change nothing. Sakura won the dispute only because she threaten to kick tender parts of Naruto's anonymity.
They exchanged news over toast and eggs. Lee gave his apologies and left not too long after they had started to eat. He gave Sakura a kiss and promised to have dinner ready by the time she returned from work.
Naruto watched the scene but didn't say anything until they were clearing away the breakfast dishes, "Is that what it's like?"
"Hmm?" Sakura replied while rinsing dishes.
She thought about it while she grabbed her work pack. He followed her out the door but she answered after she had locked the door, "Most of the time."
"Or is it a special case?" he said with a grin.
"What are you implying?" she asked while her eyes narrowed.
He put his hands behind his head, "Well, Lee is still Lee."
"And you're still Naruto," she sighed.
"What's that supposed too mean?"
Sakura giggled while he pouted at her.
They walked further down into the main streets, "Do you think you'll ever stick around the village long enough to get married yourself?"
He tripped over his feet at her question then let out a nervous laugh, "Oh not anytime soon."
"How come?" They both stopped.
"Well," he started, "Like you said, I'm gone for long stretches of time that can last months. It just wouldn't be fair to a wife." His reply was logical but since she had known him so long it was a weird thing for him to say.
It was time for a change of subject, "Here's one for you. When are you and Lee going to start multiplying?" Her face matched her hair in a matter of seconds. They had talked about children but other things had been in the forefront of their minds lately. Her expression changed to more thoughtful one.
"I guess we both have been so preoccupied. He's teaching now and I've been working long hours in the lab." Naruto had known Sakura long enough to know that was a lame excuse from her. Feeling the need to redirect the conversation, "So how was your last mission?"
He furrowed his brow, "It wasn't pretty," his tone had captured her attention. Normally a huge grin would spread across his face and he would blabber on and on about how much ass he just kicked. "I was sent to the Village Hidden in the Mist to bring some medicine out there."
"Oh yes, I helped make some of that. It was a pretty nasty virus."
He shook his head, "Nasty doesn't begin to cover it. What made it worse was the amount of children that had to watch their parents and siblings suffering."
She nodded in stunned silence as they reached the doors of the Hokage's office. "Any child I may one day have could lose one or both of their parents. We are ninjas after all. I wouldn't want a child to endure not having parents," she thought to herself as she instinctively looked at Naruto.
He knocked on the door but after a few minutes of silence they both just walked inside. The top of the Hokage's desk was covered with mountains of paperwork. Naruto and Sakura exchanged glances when they heard the soft snoring coming from behind the mock of Mount Hokage.
Sakura straighten her shoulders and marched towards the desk. She focused her chakra to the palms of her hands. The paperwork jumped after she slammed her hands on the top of the desk and shouted, "Good morning, Tsunade-sama!"
The stacks of paper flittered down to their original stacks as angry amber eyes looked up at pair of them. Sakura smiled sweetly at her master while Naruto's completion paled slightly.
"I trust it's important," Tsunade growled at them. Naruto pulled a folder out of his pack and handed it over to his Hokage. She opened the folder in a bored sort of way and they watched as her eyes grew larger as she continued to read his report.
A sigh escaped from her lips when she put the folder down, "Just as thought." Naruto and Tsunade shared the same grim look. Her interest landed on Sakura, "Well, looks like I don't have a choice. I'm sure you are aware of the flu epidemic in the Village Hidden in the Mist." Sakura nodded her head. "It has become more devastating than I originally thought. It seems the only way to make a medication effective enough a medic nin would have to deal with the disease first hand. Unfortunately I'm preoccupied here."
Sakura hadn't dealt with anything to this degree of seriousness not since she made an antidote for Kankuro but this was something that needed to be done.
Tsunade pulled some blank forms and started to fill them out, "Team Kakashi will be traveling to the Village Hidden in the Mist."
"Are you sure you want to send me?" Sakura asked knowing it was a stupid question even as she was asking it.
The woman behind the desk folded her hands and eyed her pupil, "Yes," she said firmly. Sakura nodded. "At the end of today you are to go down to the clinic and get a flu vaccination. Kakashi and Sai have both had theirs as a precaution." She looked over at the blond and said quieter; "Between you and me I doubt Naruto can even catch a cold so I'm not too concerned about him." Sakura giggled slightly because she couldn't agree more. "Once the virus has worn off you will start the mission. "You are dismissed." They nodded and left the office.
Naruto heaved a sigh as soon as they were out of hearing range of the office door, "Man I just got back too. I wanted to go have ramen with Iruka-sensei," he pouted childishly.
Sakura couldn't help but to smile at him, "Go ahead. Once I get the vaccination it will be a few days before I'm well enough to travel. I'm sure Kakashi-sensei and Sai will still be feeling sick for awhile."
"Yeah maybe I'll get the whole week off!" he cheered.
She scowled at him, "Should you be wishing ill on your teammates?"
He chuckled nervously as they continued down the hall to her own office. She opened the door and flipped on the lights. Naruto wandered in after her as she shuffled papers that were consuming her desk. The way she managed her paperwork was starting to resemble someone else's. Well it was just another thing to add to her list of things to do today.
Other than paper work Sakura kept a vase of flowers that helped to keep her office smelling fresh and two picture frames. Naruto had removed one of the frames from the desk's top and looked at it, "You were just about the prettiest bride I've ever seen."
She looked over his shoulder to see the photograph of Lee and her wedding day. They had chosen to wear the traditional wedding outfits although their vows were more like western ceremonies. This was mostly to prevent Lee from drinking any sake. Sakura fingered the image of herself and smiled at the goofy expression on Lee's face.
"You still have this?" Naruto was looking at the second photograph. The wedding picture was put back into its place as he handed over the other photo. It was group shot of team Kakashi that was taken a few years earlier. Sakura sat in the middle while the men stood behind her; Sai on her right, Kakashi behind, and Naruto on the left. Both pictures whispered words of comfort to her whenever she felt discouraged. They reminded her that there were people out there that cared about and needed her. The pictures also helped her from flinging her desk across the room whenever something annoyed her. Another trait she seemed to acquire from somewhere.
"Look at Sai's smug face," he continued to grumble incoherently as Sakura chuckled to herself replacing the photo.
Her eyes lingered on the clock that hung on her wall, "Looks like it's time to start the morning rounds," she said more to herself.
Naruto was pulled out of his thoughts of all the evil things he was going to do once he saw Sai, "Yeah, I have to find Iruka -sensei so he can buy me some lunch later," He waved to her from her office door, "I'll see you soon."
She waved good bye too, "Yeah, soon."
Sakura picked up her patients list and closed the office door behind her. It was just the start of another day but something inside told her that another day wasn't just another day when it came to her life.
(A/N) well that was a long first chapter I just started typing and didn't know when to stop. Hopefully the plot will surface soon lol even I don't really know what this story is about yet.
On another note, everyone's character is a little strange mostly because they aren't twelve or thirteen anymore gasp That's right they are all done going through puberty and know what their roles as ninjas are. So I thought I would mention that their goals in life are similar but they have made other things more important.
Okays that's it for now