A response to dailyangel's Being Strong – because there is more than one kind of strength that needs to be recognised. Sasunaru with memories of Sakura.

AN - How could I not have a response for that? If you haven't read Daily's fic I strongly suggest you do but be warned, it does deal with some fairly heavy themes, all of which are true and heartbreaking. This isn't much but it's all I could think of to do and is inspired by and dedicated wholly to my omouto-chan who has taught me so much about life and love, friendship and two people who I would have loved to have known. Hopefully we'll meet one day.

'til then...

True Strength

Naruto grinned. He couldn't help it. Standing not two feet in front of him was Sasuke. Everything else was white nothingness and silence, a comfortably tense kind of silence; as though something was waiting to happen and they would be better off when it did. And yet Naruto wanted to spend forever right here. In this exact moment. Because standing not two feet in front of him was Sasuke.

And then there was only one foot between them, and then they were breathing together and Naruto's eyes were blurry with tears and their closeness and the fact that Sasuke's dark gaze was mapping his face as frantically as he was mapping Sasuke's. It felt like coming home, standing so close - being so near that they were blurring together at the edges. It was glorious and familiar and home and Naruto couldn't hold back, throwing his arms around Sasuke hard enough that he staggered a little and burying his head in the other man's neck, pressing his lips to the soft skin there before just holding Sasuke close and crying and letting go of the tension and misery for the first time in weeks.

He felt Sasuke's hands on him as well, Sasuke's arms strong around him, just as frenzied as they held Naruto tightly; one on his back and one on his head, tangling in his hair, lips pressing against his forehead and promising to never ever let go again.

Hours of agony, weeks of torture and separation and memories too painful to bring with them to this place except for those brief moments where things could almost have been alright. Everything was erased here, everything was new and perfect and just beginning except those moments, those gifts from Sakura that had had Naruto holding on long past the time he would have given in on his own. Those gifts he would take with him everywhere, those long hours of silent company and shared sadness and the hope of hope returning in the future. Long hours of tears spent together and a quiet that was painful and soothing and would fade with time but would never disappear entirely. Memories of a friend with so much strength and such protectiveness in her heart that he couldn't help smiling fondly at the memory of that spark in her eyes. The spark that would always be there no matter what hardships she faced.

She was stronger than him; she would make it and face everything and come out the other side and he would be here waiting for her at the end of it all, forever here and forever happy with Sasuke, because he was home. And one day she would be too, with plenty of stories about her life to tell the both of them. Until then Naruto was safe in Sasuke's arms. Forever here, forever happy. Home.

There are so many things out there that give us nightmares in life; hopefully this is a happy dream to shed a little light instead. This probably didn't do justice to the people I want it to but I can only hope the right person knows that goodbyes aren't forever so make sure to have plenty of stories ready for them 'kay?

Hugs – just in case you need them :)