title: Tonight

summery: The night he comes back and a couple more. In which Sakura cries, Naruto screams, Kakashi runs, and Sasuke sleeps.

pairing: Team Seven love.

note: I know. Doesn't happen like this. Let me have my fantasies, and write them too. AND apparently I can only write in one, stupid 'way.' Ugh.

word count: 777 (the MAGIC NUMBER! And not even on purpose! 8)

The night after the all stumble into Kohona, bruised and battered but healed, Sakura goes home and cries.

She walks through the door to her family's house with a smile on her face. Excited, giddy, she calls out to her parents and tells them he's back. They smile small smiles and give her big hugs and tell her they're just glad she's back. There's no getting used to waiting for a child off at war, so they hold her tight before sending their fifteen year-old not-child off to bed.

She turns on the shower, as high and hot as she can. Stepping back, she looks into the mirror and watches in morbid fascination as the mask cracks and crumbles.

As the water pounds behind her, Sakura cries.

The sobs bubble up, too forceful to keep at bay any longer. Each minute seems like an eternity spent gasping for breath and chocking on thoughts and feeling she doesn't quite understand. She feels like a child lost in a world of the past when there was only happy and sad and no in-between. There is no in-between here. Everything hurts and everything is wrong and everything is horrible but –

But everything is alright.

Sakura stands beneath the jets and tries not to know which scalding drops are hers.

Because tomorrow it'll be ok.


The night after Sasuke's trial, Naruto screams.

The council is a gathering of old, senile old men with nothing to their names but the years they have. Stupid and frail, no more ninja than saints, they deliver a sentence that is at once deserved, harsh, and wrong.

Baa-chan is at a foreign council meeting. If they have their way, Sasuke will be dead before she returns.

The deliver the verdict with cold eyes alight. They look at a boy that only ever wanted to be ok and sentence him to a future that doesn't exist. Naruto, sitting beside Sakura, stands. At his side, he feels her do the same.

For a second, the heavy weight of her hand is enough to remind him who he is and who he isn't. But then Sasuke turns to look at him, black eyes far too old and far too crushed to be nothing more than fifteen.

His pupils narrow and stretch into red.

His hands begin to glow a crimson light that burns and eats and is nothing if not pure power.

The tails come, more than ever before.

And Naruto screams a scream that holds that fury of centuries in its high yowl.

The old men-not-ninja agree to wait for their leader.


The night after the red rage of a demon fox, Kakashi runs.

He straps a pack on his back and double-knots his mask before looking behind him one last time. In a rush, déjà vu overruns him and he feels a split second of old terror and timeless shame. Then he turns back to the dark, takes a deep breath, and promises himself this time he won't let it fall apart.

Long legs trained by the years move with all the grace, precision, and power he can manage. Chakra pumps with every thud of his heart and he runs.

The sky is painted yellow, orange, and red when he stops.

On legs now trembling from exertion, he steps into a elaborate room guarded by ninja not good enough to stop him. One lazy eye scrunches in his familiar imitation of a smile.

Tsunande looks at him, one gold eyebrow cocked.

"We need you."


The night after Tsunande returns, Sasuke sleeps.

He's in the hospital, under Sakura's care. She's sitting at his door. So is Naruto. Kakashi paces the hall, face hidden behind his bright orange book. They are silent, for perhaps the first times in either of their lives, and watching each person that passes with such ferocity that Sasuke almost smiles. No one wants old demons to rise again. No one wants their ribcage crushed beneath tiny fists. No one wants the copy-nin's anger.

It's not all ok, not now. But it kinda feels like it.

It'll be a long, long while before anything returns to normal. He'll have to work for it, have to prove himself. But that's ok. Sasuke is nothing if not determined.

And he's tired. So tired. He hasn't slept in days.

His eyelids are heavy and his head loose. Every other minute he is jerking back up, blinking to try to clear away the haze of tiredness and exhaustion.

He looks at them.

They look back.

He actually manages an almost-smile.

And they're there, they're protecting, and they won't leave him.

Sasuke sleeps.

completed: 6/9/08

dedication: For everyone that reviewed my other two stories. As a newbie, every little compliment makes me bubbly inside – and willing to sacrifice precious sleep to write and post this 8D