I do not own Naruto or the other characters, at this point my only creations are Kita, the Kiraa-bi (aka the Kiraa) and the plot.
Two months, it had been two months since Uzumaki Naruto returned from his travels with Jiraya. The blond ninja had quickly returned to the life he knew, catching up with friends and rejoining team seven. For the youth, the two years spent traveling and training had worn heavy on his heart, he had missed his home and one special pink haired Kunoichi in particular.
Since returning, Naruto had spent every possible moment renewing and rebuilding his friendship with Haruno Sakura and he hoped much more. Two years had changed them both, physically and emotionally. He was no longer a short twerp, having grown to a height of six foot one. His body had benefited from his continuous dedication to training and where there once was baby fat and love hands there was no only lean muscle that covered his broad shoulders and narrow waist. His blond hair remained unruly but having grown longer now fit the chiseled features of his face along with his mega-watt smile. That was one thing that remained the same, his goofy grin that could light up any room. While growing older and maturing he managed to retain his ultra positive attitude, making him more balanced. There was no denying that Naruto's dedication had paid off and he had indeed grown stronger, becoming a formidable ninja.
While many of the village's older generation still feared and hated him, upon his return it was somewhat easier to fit in with his generation, especially the girls. Like him, all the girls he had known growing up had matured in to beautiful women. None more beautiful to him that Sakura, in two years she had become a leggy beauty with slender curves that he loved to watch as she walked. Her mass of pink hair, always a standout from the other girls always smelled of strawberries and he found every reason and chance to stand near enough to breath in her wonderful smell and bask in the wonder of her.
Sakura too had matured, having mastered her skills as a medical ninja, second only to Godaime Hokage, Tsunade. A benefit of the additional training, she gained was a greater control of her anger. This was noticed only by those that knew her best: Lady Tsunade, Shizune, Kakashi and Ino, as Sakura did not draw undue attention to herself. Very few people knew of her skill or respected the price she paid to work at Tsunade's side.
Naruto noticed the change in her temper immediately on their reunion, when she did not beat him to a pulp, when his first sentence upon seeing her again after two years was to ask her on a date. Instead she had only looked at him incredulously and said, "You oaf, can't you even say hello first? How about 'how are you' or 'its good to see you'? She had watched as Naruto prepared himself for the first hit and merely shook her head and added, 'You know there's just no one else like you, Naruto...It's really good to see you again."
Then with a smile she had walked with him to his home, catching up on their time apart as he unpacked, then joined him for dinner at Ichiraku. Several times in that first meeting, they both brought up the situation of their lost teammate Sasuke, it was as if they hadn't been able to truly talk about it to anyone else while they parted. The opening of their hearts and the release of their shared pain gave them an unspoken bond, something closer than friends.
Ever the same knucklehead, Naruto never gave up but continued to follow after Sakura, hoping to win her heart. The young ninja wore his heart on his sleeve, with compliments and requests for dates. Sakura never openly said yes to a date and only thanked him politely for the kind words...but at the same time, she never sent him away. Somehow Naruto never noticed that all her time was his, so he kept trying and trying to someday replace Sasuke in her heart.
Sakura had no intentions of being cruel or stringing him along, but her battles with her inner self and doubts about her own worthiness kept her silent and aloof. During the time he was gone, she had come to accept the fact that the person she awoke at night hoping they were alive and well was Naruto, not Sasuke. No one knew but her, that she had months ago gone to his apartment and taken one of his t-shirts and that she slept with it every night...the only thing she found that brought her peace enough to rest.
Like Naruto, she had spent the time pushing herself to become the best she could be, to not be the weakest member of their team, but to stand as his equal when next they were sent to retrieve Sasuke. It had not been an easy time for Sakura as she faced the fact that Sasuke could never love her and that she had wanted him only because she saw him as way to prove herself equal to Ino. To win Sasuke would mean that all of the sly comments and back biting lines that Ino had said over the years were wrong. Sakura had to come to a place in her own heart and mind were she had to accept maybe she wasn't the most beautiful kunoichi...maybe she was just pretty. Sasuke had only been a tool to validate her beauty and to show Ino who was better. She had to accept that in her life, only two boys had told her they desired her, one was gone to places unknown and the other could never be more than a friend, no matter his promises. Sakura learned a hard lesson of self acceptance and traded in her shallow competition for a sincere desire to be a better ninja and just maybe fall in love with the man that had always loved her...if she hadn't already ruined it.
Sakura's worst fear was that Naruto would never come back. The second worst was that he would come back and be in love with someone else and she would never get a chance to show him she care, never get a chance to say she was sorry. These were the thoughts that plagued her dreams. It was only when she wrapped herself in Naruto's t-shirt and could smell his scent were her nightmares chased away. Even after he returned Sakura kept the treasured shirt, a secret that she would take to her grave.
With Naruto back, Team 7 was re-commissioned and the spot left empty filled by Sasuke, filled by the enigmatic Sai. For two months, Kakashi had led the threesome through team building exercises to help them function together. Once a week, Lady Tsunade would give them a short C or D ranked mission to keep their skills sharp, but the missions never took more than two days and were well beneath the skills of the young ninjas.
The upside of their repetitive schedule was that both Naruto and Sakura knew that they would get to spend the entire day together, first training, then dinner, followed by a walk or quick shopping trip. On weekends, Naruto pestered Sakura to help him do laundry, and she always sighed, sounding bothered and bored, but secretly, she loved anything that let her spend time with the handsome blond.
Inside her, a battle warred. Did she really deserve Naruto? Could she ever make him truly happy? Would someone as handsome him someday regret being with a woman that was just merely 'pretty'? These self-doubts tore at her soul in moments of quiet, as a remedy she welcomed time with Naruto, as it was the only time her inner self did not crusade against her, in those moments, she was truly happy.
Naruto tried again and again to get closer to Sakura, offering his hand to step over puddles and not releasing hers until she forcibly pulled away, sneaking up behind her every morning to whisper as gentle hello in her ear before training, and numerous requests for dates. Naruto would attain heaven itself if he could actually one day place his lips to hers. Frustrated, Naruto learned to will himself to sleep at night, telling him the tossing and turning would only stop him from enjoying his time with Sakura, and somehow this worked, allowing him to drift into a shallow slumber.
The kunoichi wanted to hold his hand, wanted to openly accept his requests for dates and be more than his friend. At first she was held back by her inner doubts, but then her parents noticed all the time she spent with 'that undesirable boy' and they quickly made a stern mandate that there could be nothing more than friendship between him and Sakura. But deep inside, Sakura searched for a way to be with Naruto and hoped he would not give up on her before she found it. She ached to tell him how she felt but doing so would only hurt more with their forced separation. The keeping of secrets tore at her heart at night as she cried herself to sleep.
But regardless of their feelings and desires, as ninja they knew their first duty. So every day started on the training grounds, where Naruto, Sakura and Sai drilled and repeated the task to hone them into a close knit team.
One the first day of the ninth week after his return, Naruto noticed a figure following his team through the woods as they ran obstacles. Signaling Sakura and Sai, the team performed a cross-back maneuver and attempted to surround the person, only the figure evaded them. For two hours they tried to pick up the trail of the person, but only managed to run in circles. The three young ninja decided to return back to the start and report to Kakashi what had happened.
As they returned to the training area, Kakashi stood leaned against a tree talking to a strange woman. The woman had long, thick raven colored tresses that flowed down to her waist as she sat on a large rock, wearing deep green pants that hugged her thigh and stopped at her knees, her shapely legs stretched out in front of her and crossed at the ankles. As the teens came into the clearing, Kakashi looked up at them and so did the woman. At first glance her beauty was breathtaking. She had large dark eyes, creamy smooth skin and full rich lips, the very movement of turning her head was like the flow of silk, making her hair billow and flow with a life of its own.
"Ahh, you're back...how did it go?" Kakashi asked, the unknown woman remained silent.
Sakura was the first to speak, "Kakashi-sensai, there was someone out there following us, we tried to surround them but they got away."
"Really, which way did they go? Anbu-"
Naruto cut Kakashi off, " We tried for two hours but couldn't find a sign or a trail. Its like they just were there and vanished or took off with wings."
"We thought it best we report back to you," finished Sai, wanting to impress his new sensai.
"Kakashi, you were telling me how good your team is, but they couldn't track one suspicious character?"
Sakura spoke up, sensing everything was not what it seemed, "Even the best ninja find dead ends sometimes, but a wise ninja knows when to stop wasting effort and try something new. If we could not find the one following us, it becomes vital we notify village security immediately."
The woman nodded, "Well said."
Kakashi stood and walked towards his team, in his usual lazy voice he said, "You did well and as a matter of fact, you did find the person following you – you just didn't know it." With a small gesture he motioned towards the woman.
Again the woman nodded with a fluid grace.
"May I introduce Daigo Kita, she was following you."
Smoothly she stood and turned to face the three in greeting, "Hello, I was observing your group hoping to find a candidate for my elite training. Of the other teams I've shadowed only yours picked up on my presence just minutes after I arrived, also congratulations you almost had me for a minute."
"Elite training! Do you mean like Anbu?" Naruto was quick to ask.
Kakashi strolled lazily forward and answered Naruto's question, "Not exactly, Kita trains elite kunoichi assassins."
Hearing Kakashi say elite kunoichi, sent Sakura's mind racing, back to stories, like fairy tales of a super secret sect of kunoichi assassins, super secret and super scary... But before Sakura could say a word, Kita stepped forward, saying, "Haruno Sakura, I'm impressed with your skill and teamwork, I would like to take you as my student and train you in the ways of the Kiraa-bi."
This is my first Naruto fanfic...I really like the cartoon, but never thought I'd write a story because of the Japanese terms, but one night I had this wild dream and had to write it down! Go Sakura!!