Home for the Holidays

Uzumaki Naruto stared at the Godaime Hokage in utter disbelief. She couldn't be doing this; it was almost Christmas for God's sake!

It was a week before Christmas, and Naruto was out shopping for a gift for his beloved Sakura-chan. He had spotted the perfect gift in the window of a local jewelry shop when a messenger from the Hokage told him that Tsunade wished to see him.

He had risen his eyebrow at the messenger in confusion, but nodded anyway. 'What could baa-chan want?' he'd thought.

As it turns out, Tsunade was assigning him a solo A-Rank, borderline S-Rank, mission. At first the blond was thrilled to be going on such an important mission, but when he was told the length of the mission, he wasn't too happy.

"How can you send me on a two-week-long mission when Christmas is only one week away?!" he yelled at her after a minute of silence. "This is my first Christmas in Konoha since I've been back! I was going to spend it with Sakura-chan!"

Tsunade smiled at him sadly. 'I see he still has a soft spot for her after all this time,' she thought before saying aloud, "I have no choice but to send you on this mission, Naruto. You're the only one who can fulfill it. You're the only ninja in Konoha with the chakra capacity to survive this mission." She continued when Naruto made no shouts of protest, "If I send anyone else on this particular mission, it'd be a suicide mission."

"So you're saying I could get killed?! Baa-chan!" he protested.

"No, Naruto," she disagreed, "you will not be killed on this mission, especially if you do it right. We cannot afford to lose anymore of our ninja. I'm sorry, Naruto."

The look of determination on her face shook Naruto's resolve to refuse the mission. He obviously had no choice in the matter, and whether he liked it or not, he was going. He sighed. There went his Christmas with Sakura.

"When do I leave?" he said dejectedly.

"Tomorrow at dawn. Dismissed."

'I have to tell Sakura-chan I won't be here for Christmas,' he thought sadly as he walked towards her house. 'I hope she's not mad or anything… especially since I promised her…'

"Hey, Naruto!" a sweet voice rang out. Naruto looked up from the rock he was kicking to see his favorite cherry blossom running towards him. He grinned. "Are you doing anything for Christmas this year?"

He thought about this for a minute. The past two Christmas seasons were spent with Jiraiya, and, in Naruto's opinion, though better than previous years, they weren't all that great. They'd spend the holidays training non-stop, much to Naruto's chagrin. And the holidays prior to that were spent alone in his apartment after receiving small gifts from his teammates. Sakura would attempt to spend her holidays with her beloved 'Sasuke-kun' and Kakashi--well…Naruto had no idea what his teacher did for the holidays. And everyone else was so caught up in what they were doing that they had forgotten about poor Uzumaki Naruto.

And why exactly was Sakura asking him this? She herself had no idea why; maybe it was because of guilt? Did she feel guilty for not spending Christmas with Naruto when she knew he had no family to spend it with?


"Nope, I've got nothing planned, Sakura-chan. Why do you ask?" he said, smiling.

"Well," she said and put her index finger to her lip almost flirtatiously, and this made Naruto melt on the inside, "I was just wondering if you wanted to come to my house for Christmas this year. My mom's making dinner and hot chocolate, and said I could invite you. Wanna come?"

Naruto's heart soared. Christmas at Sakura's house? And dinner, too? You didn't have to tell Naruto twice.

"Definitely, Sakura-chan!" he said with a grin. She smiled back and hugged him, to his surprise.

"Promise me you won't bail out on me?" she said as she laid her head on his chest. Naruto's heart was beating incredibly fast and his cheeks were burning despite the snow falling around them.

He embarrassedly stuttered out, "I-I promise, S-Sakura-chan."

She giggled and released him. "Great! Well, I gotta go, Naruto, bye!" As she ran off, Naruto couldn't help but grin.

He finally reached her house when he saw her exit. She looked up and smiled at him. "Hey, Naruto," she greeted sweetly. He continued to walk towards her, and her smile disappeared when she noticed his solemn features.

"Something wrong, Naruto?" she asked worriedly.

He pulled his blue eyes from her as he said, "I can't make it to your house for Christmas this year."

Her heart broke. He promised, didn't he? The Uzumaki Naruto she knew never went back on his word! He'd promised he'd spend Christmas with her and---

Wait a minute, why did she even care?

She'd spent numerous Christmases without the blond before, so why would this year be any different? Why was she getting so upset that he couldn't make it? There was always next year…


He was scared that he'd upset her, that maybe she'd punch him for breaking a promise to her. But the punch never came; she just stood there, her eyes glazed over in thought.

Cautiously, he hugged her and whispered in her ear, "Gomen, Sakura-chan."

The sensation of his warm breath on her ear brought Sakura out of her thoughts. After she finally registered what was going on, she pulled away from Naruto slowly, almost hesitantly.

Her hands fell to her side and she looked at the ground. "Why?" she managed to ask.

"Tsunade-baa-chan gave me an A-Rank mission," he said, "and it's going to last for two weeks at least."

"An A-Rank a week before Christmas?!" Sakura shouted in disbelief, "Tsunade-sama can't be serious!"

"Dead serious, Sakura-chan."

"W-why didn't I know about this before?" she asked. She was on his team after all; maybe she wouldn't be so upset if she could at least go with him.

"It's…" he hesitated, "it's a solo mission."

"Why isn't anyone going with you?"

She couldn't help but ask all these questions. She had to find out if what Naruto was saying was indeed true; if he was playing some cruel joke on her, all these questions would throw him off and he'd have to make up reasons to make it believable.

"Baa-chan said that I'm the only one with the chakra capacity to come out of this mission alive; she couldn't risk other ninja."

She was surprised by his quick answer but pressed further.

"What do you mean?"

"This mission would be suicide to anyone else if they decided to take it."

A suicide mission? "Why is she sending you on a suicide mission if you're only a genin, Naruto?"

"If I come back alive, baa-chan will automatically promote me to chuunin."

"If? But you said you'd be able to survive!"

"I could, but there's also a possibility that I won't come back."

His seriousness was frightening her. This was Naruto! Naruto was almost never serious! She wanted him to say so badly, 'Haha, gotcha, Sakura-chan!'

But it never came.

Tears nearly fell as she thought of the worst possible outcome. Naruto couldn't die; it was Naruto! Naruto who would never give up, who was always true to his word, who was Konoha's most unpredictable ninja. He just couldn't, wouldn't die!

Now speechless, Naruto did the only thing he could think of. He hugged her again. She gripped onto his black and orange coat and let a solitary tear escape.

"When do you leave?" Her voice shook as she spoke.

"Tomorrow at dawn."

"Then I'll be there to see you off." She looked at him and smiled. "And I'll be there when you come back. Promise you'll come back, Naruto…"

"I can't promise that, Sakura-chan…" Her face fell, but he grinned at her. "But I'll sure as hell try."

It had been nearly a week since Naruto left for his mission, and Sakura was worried even though he wasn't scheduled to be back for another week. Christmas was tomorrow, and even though the chances were slim, she really wanted to spend it with him for reasons she didn't completely understand. She'd even made him something this year, and in years past, she'd find something decent for him for Christmas because she felt obligated to since he was on her team. But this year was different. She made him something for him from the heart.

At the moment, she was sitting in her room wrapping his present in a little cardboard box. Once her present was wrapped in white tissue paper and covered with the top, she began wrapping the box in orange wrapping paper. As she was about to place a white bow on top, Ino walked into her room.

"Hey, Forehead," Ino greeted. "Who's the present for?"

"That's none of your business, Ino-pig," Sakura replied. "Why are you here, anyway?"

"Well, I wanted to see if you wanted to do some last minute shopping with me."

"I have all my shopping done already. I see you forgot a few people this year?"

"Yeah. Me!" she said with a giggle. Sakura glared.

"Do you always think of yourself?"

"Hey! I did all my shopping for everyone else already! I had some money left over so I thought I'd get myself some Christmas presents."

"Ino, even if I wanted to go shopping with you, I'm broke. Shopping for everyone else cleaned me out," she said as she slid Naruto's present under the bed.

"So you're just gonna stay inside all day?" Ino said with a frown. "That's a waste of your Christmas Eve."

"I'm not just going to be doing absolutely nothing," Sakura replied, "I'm going to help my mom with the deserts for dinner tomorrow and I'm going to finish wrapping a few presents."

"Alright, well…don't stay up waiting for Naruto too long, okay? You know that if he comes back it won't be for another week."

Sakura scowled. "Get out, pig."

"Fine. Merry Christmas, Forehead!" With that, Ino was gone.

"Stupid Ino," Sakura said to herself. "She makes it sound like I'm in love with the idiot…" She sighed and went downstairs to help her mom get prepared for tomorrow's dinner.

Sakura sighed as she sat down on her couch drinking her hot chocolate. She had kind of hoped that maybe, just maybe, Naruto would show up. She missed the moron, and though she didn't let his absence ruin Christmas for her, she had a feeling he would've made her Christmas just a little brighter. She had given her presents out to all of her friends, except for Naruto, whose present still lay underneath her bed. She'd gotten presents in return and said her 'thank you's and spent her Christmas Day with her friends with a smile on her face. But the whole day she knew someone was missing from the group. Other than Kiba, there was no one there to make them laugh so much that their sides hurt. Kiba was a good friend and all, but he was no Naruto. No one could replace him.

She looked at the clock: 9:30p.m. Christmas was almost over; looks like Naruto really wouldn't be back for another week, if at all. 'No,' she thought defiantly, 'He's coming back. He always does. He'll be here in a week, and I just have to be patient.'

She was about to put her mug in the sink when she heard a knock at the door. She placed the cup in the sink and headed for the door, curious who would be stopping at her house at this time of night.

When she opened the door, she was surprised to be met with shining blue eyes. There Naruto was in the flesh, and he had no life-threatening wounds; just a few scratches and bruises. He was fine. He was home. He was with her.

She motioned for him to come inside and told him to sit on the couch. He happily obliged, and she brought him a cup of hot chocolate within minutes.

"Wait here, Naruto," she then said and raced up the stairs.

While she was gone, Naruto absentmindedly fingered the little velvet box in his pocket. He smiled to himself. 'Sakura-chan will definitely love this.'

Sakura came back down with an orange box in her hands. She found no Naruto sitting on the couch, however. 'I leave for two minutes and he's already gone!' she thought as she looked around for him. She was surprised when she felt something cold around her neck.

His hot breath tickled her ear as he said, "Merry Christmas, Sakura-chan."

She looked down and saw a gold necklace hanging on her neck, and a cherry blossom-shaped pendant hanging from the chain. The outline of the pendant was gold, and the shape of the blossom was filled with diamonds. She held the pendant gently in her hands, and turned around to face Naruto, who was grinning.

"Naruto…it's beautiful," she said, "This must have cost a fortune."

"It was worth seeing you smile, Sakura-chan," he said, which deserved a kiss on the cheek. He blushed when she pulled away, and she was wearing that smile of hers that never failed to make him melt into a puddle of Naruto-goo.

She then motioned for him to sit on the couch, and she sat next to him. She placed the present in his lap, and he looked at her. "Go on, open it," she said with that smile again.

When he opened it, he found a black scarf with his name sewn into one side. "Did you make this, Sakura-chan?" he asked. She nodded and took the scarf from him.

"You look kind of cold," she said and wrapped it around his neck, "and that's probably because you don't have a scarf." She noticed his cheeks burning red, and inwardly smirked. "See, it's working already!" She poked his reddening cheeks teasingly.

"Ah, Sakura-chan…t-thank you," he stuttered.

"You're welcome, Naruto. Merry Christmas," she said, then grabbed his scarf and pulled his lips to hers.

Aww, now wasn't that sweet?

Just something NaruSaku for the holiday season. This idea was bugging me all while I was in Texas, but I held out until after Thanksgiving, haha. I ended up waiting til I was in the car to type it up. XD

Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read this! Please review!